|Port William - Falkland Islands
(From the Nautical Magazine for July, )
Sir,- For the general information of masters and owners of vessels trading round the Horn, I must request you to publish the following account of Port William, on the south-eastern extreme of the East Falkland Island ; as I think the value of it, as a port of call, is at present very imperfectly known.
The harbour is so situated on the point of the island that it is almost impossible to put a vessel in an unsafe position, should the wind prevent a stranger entering the port at night. The dangers on this part of the coast are few near the land, and with one or two exceptions above water. Of these I have no occasion to speak, as there are good charts published. A master having no chart need not hesitate, being careful. but not to approach the coast nearer than 2 miles in the night. In daylight the Kelp will indicate any danger with the exception of the Volunteer Rock, off the north head of Berkeley Sound. These remarks apply to the coast from the Sea Lion Isles to Berkeley Sound.
Pilots are not required ; as any one using common care may take a vessel in and out, day or night, without the slightest danger, it being one of the easiest and safest harbours I have ever entered. There are two harbours - Port Stanley (the inner) and Port William (the outer.) A vessel calling for supplies has no occasion to enter the inner harbour, the entrance to which is deep but narrow, as you can bring up in from seven to nine fathoms, and be landlocked in the outer,
Three-fourths of the year the winds prevail out of the harbour, which lies nearly W.S.W., and the distance to beat up is not more than four miles, with plenty of room.
Supplies.- Beet is now charged 2d. per lb. as soon as demand increases it will not be more than half that price. The cattle are now estimated at more than 100,000 head, of good quality, and cure well. Water is easily ob-tained at present; but Governor Moody, aware of the importance of despatch, is about building a floating tank, that will supply any quantity in twelve hours. It keeps well. The supply of small stores is at present bad and expensive ; this will alter of itself when the demand increases. No firewood to be had, but plenty of peat for fuel. Game is very abun-dant - rabbits, geese, ducks, snipes, and a va-riety of water fowl ; in one day you can obtain a good sea stock. There are no vegetables at present, owing to the settlement haven; been recently moved from Berkeley Sound ; but there is no doubt they will be plentiful in time.
Succas grass, coo can obtain in any quantity ; it is excellent food for stock, and will keep a fortnight. In case of sickness or accident on board a vessel. there is a government surgeon. For a ship requiring repairs, the inner harbour is excellent, deep water alongside, and good landing for cargo. At the present time there are no shipwrights, and very little timber is to be had; so that it would not be advisable for a vessel requiring much repair to touch at this place, but any ordinary accident might be made good.
There are no harbour dues, pilotage, or Custom forms to. create delay, expense, or trouble; and from what I did, I can confidently assert that any vessel may get the supplies she wants and be to sea in forty-eight hours. When this is compared with the expense, trouble, detention for water, and deviation from the route occasioned by going to the ports of South America, where fresh provisions are inferior, and cannot be kept fresh for more than a few hours, the advantages must be obvious to everyone. A vessel leaving the colonies with passengers, requiring twenty tons of water for the passage to England, by taking only twelve tons, and eight tons more of freight, and less live stock (which are very likely to be lost on the passage round the Horn), the additional amount of freight, and the saving in live stock, would more than cover every expense she would be put to in this port, and afford the opportunity of giving the crew fresh meat for ten days in the middle of the passage.
In the last few months two vessels going to the westward received damage off the Horn and bore up for the Falklands. One reached Port William in safety, and was condemned; the other, from the master not knowing the settlement, was lost during, the thick weather in attempting to reach Port Egmont, in the West Falkland, approaching which the islets and reefs are very numerous. These circumstances show the necessity of making that port better known, and induced me to send you these remarks.
Governor Moody and his officers are most anxious to render every attention to the masters and passengers of vessels calling, and every aid to give despatch.
I cannot speak too highly of the kind attentions and assistance my passengers and self received from Captain Sullivan and officers of H. B. M. brig Philomel. I feel them the more, as during my wanderings in New Zealand I have seen some instances in which the interests of British subjects have been much neglected by commanders of Her Majesty's ships (in one instance in a .British port the commander of a French frigate gave protection to British subjects when our own ships had refused and left the port.) But did they know the respect it causes our navy to be held in by the merchant service. and the kind feeling it produces between all classes of British seamen, from high to low, they would not be deterred from rendering attention and assistance by individual instances of ingratitude.
William C. Daldy
Master of the barque Bolina.
At sea, April 4, 1845.
^ back to top ^