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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.
July 24, 2016
This opens with one of those Oriental-zero-degrees-of-separation-stories. It’s last New Years Eve in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. That’s 6,000 miles from here (in a straight line – more like 10,000 if you sail). There is a New Years Eve gathering of a small group of sailors from the island, and the crew from a visiting sailboat.
One of the visiting sailors is Bernie Harberts. Bernie, who has worked here at TownDock.net, is talking with life-long Falklander Andrez Short, who tells Bernie that he recently bought a sailboat in the US. Online. In North Carolina. “Hmmm”, Bernie thinks. “Where in North Carolina?” Andrez responds the town is called “Oriental – from a brokerage named Deatons.”
Andrez had bought it a few months earlier sight unseen, except for photos. It would be another half year – late June – before he arrived in Oriental and walked its decks for the first time. There were a few jobs he wanted to do on the boat and a lot of provisions to buy. But he didn’t tarry long. By mid-July Andrez left – his teenaged-son and a friend of Andrez (Andy) as crew – on the long trek home.
On a 37 ft sailboat, this is their route home:Oriental to the Falklands.
A few days before “Fiddler’s Green” and her crew of three took off, Andrez Short talked with TownDock.net about, among other things, why he came so far for the boat.
“Fiddler’s Green,” is docked at a slip on Whittaker Creek while her new owner preps for a 9600 mile trip, pinballing down the Atlantic. Sitting at the salon table Andrez Short says, “We didn’t know where the boat was when we bought it.”
It was his wife, Allison, who found the boat – online – last August “We were looking for a steel boat, cutter rig, with aft cabin. This didn’t have an aft cabin, but that’s okay. We definitely love sailing with a cutter rig. She found it, we both liked it, we put an offer in.”
“It was one of only six made. It’s a Ted Brewer Cutter 37, or what some would say is a stretch 35,” the more standard size. The steel hull was a plus for Andrez, who among many other trades, is a metal fabricator.
As much as they liked the boat, others questioned the way they were buying it. “People back home in the Falklands thought I was crazy to buy a boat I had not seen and had not had surveyed.” He forewent a survey he says, because he “wouldn’t know a surveyor here and would have to trust whatever report I received if I hired a surveyor.”
Andrez says he did Google “the brokers office to make sure they existed, then I searched the internet to find out what I could about them. I didn’t learn who was really selling the boat in the buying process. When the broker and I agreed on a price, I said it was subject to photographs of the boat with the date stamped on them. I didn’t know who the previous owners of Fiddlers Green were, Drew Peretzky and Cathy Brugett, until after the money had changed hands.”
Not how most boats are bought.
But then, few sailors live on the Falkland Islands as Andrez Short has, all of his life.Andrez Short. Sheep farmer, mechanic, engineer, metal fabricator, and sailor.
When it comes to sailboats, Falklands “is not a buyers market. It’s not a sellers market.” he says. “There’s no boats.”
Well, almost none. When “Fiddlers Green” gets there it will be the 7th sailboat registered in the Falklands, a cluster of islands in the South Atlantic, 300 miles east of Argentina, and at 52°S near South America’s southern most tip – Cape Horn. 3,000 people live there and according to Andrez, very few of them care about boats.
“People there are mostly landlubbers.” Andrez says “Boaters are hard to come by; it’s cold and wet. A few people have power inflatables. We had a spate of those awful jet skis but they have faded. You run up and down the harbor a few times on a jet ski and that gets old. People were interested in kite sailing for a while, but that died out. A few people can be seen kayaking.”
Despite being an island nation, few people fish, even. In the Falklands territorial waters, ships from other nations harvest the sea, paying the Falklands government for the licenses to do so. The license money, Andrez says, is the closest the country comes to income from commercial fishing.
“The people of the Falklands are just not interested in the sea,” says Andrez. “They are land people, farmers, raising sheep.”
For more than a decade, that’s what he did.
“We had over 600 acres we subdivided into 150 acre fields, moving the animals around. We had a system of giving the land a rest. As sheep farmers, we did some genetic work to improve the quality of our animals. Our farm was the most productive in the Falklands. We only had 150 sheep, but our range land was so much more healthy, we could feed the animals so they were much larger than the average size of sheep in the Falklands.”
Last year, Andrez turned his back on all that. He sold the farmland – it’ll become vacation homes – and he focussed attention on getting a boat to go cruising.
Posted Sunday July 24, 2016 by Melinda Penkava
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