I love the Falkland Islands. It’s my favorite adventure destination bar none. I managed to spend almost two weeks down there several years ago (several, several) and still remember it fondly.
What brings this up is an item in the news today at http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/satellite-spots-light-show-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean-153852876.html
I knew what it was as soon as I saw the location. Korean squidders massed and — for all practical purposes — raping the resource. Nonetheless, the resource seems to come back every year.
Here’s a little tale about my experience with one. The Dave mentioned is Dave Enyon with whom I spent much of my time in the islands. (Below: The Lady Elizabeth, one of the many wrecks to be found above and below the water of the Falklands. (Right): Just another regular "track" in the Falklands. Mines from the 1982 Falklands War reappeared now and again, so it was best to know where you were walking/driving! When I was there British EOD were still stationed in the islands).
We decide to try and dive the sea lion colony off Kidney Island the next day, and again, the weather goes through its usual eight changes, but we luck out and grab a bright blue sky and fairly warm temps. We shoot out through the harbor entrance and into a nice four- or five-foot rolling sea, swing around Menguera Point and head out toward Kidney. Near the horizon line we see a 200-foot-or-so Korean squid jigger and notice that it has seemingly changed course for our direction. Dave is pointing out where we’re heading and what our strategy will be to entice the lazy, lolling mammals into the water.
“Hey, Dave,” I say, “is that sucker following us?”
Dave doesn’t think so, but he does note that whatever the squidder is doing, it’s doing it at full speed. We turn our attention back to Kidney Island, and then both glance back at the squidder, which is now considerably closer and throwing a really good bow wave. The boy be charging somewhere.
Our attention to Kidney wanes and we watch the fishing boat as it closes on us. There’s some laughter, and “what the?” head scratchings, but the boat comes on and shows no sign of slowing. Enyon gets on the radio but elicits no answer from the squid boat, which right now is waaay too close. He gooses the engines, we spin the boat and head off on an angle toward the other ship, all the while trying to make radio contact to no avail.
The Korean boat is heading for a shoal reef about six feet deep. The boat draws about 13 feet, our bottom is reading 12 feet, and the crazy sucker is pounding 13 or 14 knots and not showing any inclination to stop.
“This maniac's going to pile it up on the reef,” says Eynon rather calmly. He climbs up on the pontoons and starts waving his hands for the captain to back down and go back, something the squidder’s squire seems to have no inclination to do. I climb on the other pontoon, and while very anxious to actually see a shipwreck happen (I’m figuring Admiralty Laws, salvage rights and whatnot), decide I’d better get into the spirit of things. I start making throat-cutting gestures as the big boat passes us, and this seems to do the trick. The engines idle down, the ship goes hard aport, and arcs a big turn back toward us.
“Bloody hell,” yells Eynon as he powers over to the open loading door of the rust-blood-gut-stained white hull. “Anybody speak English?” he yells. We get that look that children give teachers when they ask, “Who has the answer?” to math questions.
Well, to make a long story endless, this ol' boy had hauled all the way from Korea, and thought the entrance to Stanley Harbor was where we were heading, so he decided to follow us in. Nice navigating. Right up until the — almost — end. Well, at least the shoal he would have hit was already named, sparing the area from an indignity like No. 55 Jai Won Shoal, or somesuch. But I sure would have liked to seen him hit the beach. I figure we could have off-loaded the crew in about 25 minutes and, presto, owned a Korean squidder.
A full-length version of my Falklands journey can be found http://www.sportdiver.com/rivers-stone-oceans-wrecks