Boating NZ




I have recently noted your obituary to Bruce Askew in your November [2022] issue – great to see a tribute to Bruce. However, I would like to amend a few details.

Stokes (originally Excalibur) was built in 1988 by Chris Sturrock who added another frame, making her 9.1 metres along the deck, and extended the mast. [She was] purchased by Austin Brookes in 1992 and renamed for [the mountain peak] Cerro Stokes on the southern border between Argentina and Chile – he and Invercargi­ll climbing mates had made the first ascent in 1975.

Austin and his partner Jay Davison circumnavi­gated in 1997-2002, sneaking through the Strait of Magellan (not rounding Cape Horn) and exploring the 600 nautical miles of channels in southern Chile before returning across the Pacific.

Visiting us later at Mana Marina, Bruce was chuffed that one of his designs had circumnavi­gated and admitted that the changes perhaps made Stokes a better boat.

Jay Davison

PS. I don’t think we really saw Cerro Stokes from the Patagonian Channels to the west – too cloudy in late summer. I later found that the original Mt Stokes was 40nm north and had been named by Commander Robert Fitzroy of the Beagle in 1834, when he ventured 9nm up the Santa Cruz River from the Argentine coast. This later proved to be a small eastern outlier rather than a giant of the Andes and the Argentines moved the name south to a more suitable summit during their border squabbles with Chile in the 1900s.

Fitzroy had named Mount Stokes for Captain Pringle Stokes who had commanded the Beagle on her first voyage to chart southern South America. He committed suicide in the Strait of Magellan.

Incidental­ly, John Lort Stokes, who later surveyed the New Zealand coast (1849-51) in the Acheron, was a midshipman on Beagle’s first voyage, and as hydrograph­er on her second (most famous) voyage, was an integral member of Fitzroy’s 1834 Santa Cruz expedition.

Some lesser features of the Patagonian channels were named for the then more junior John Lort Stokes.

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Bruce Askew. Cerro Stokes peak, and its receding glacier, left.
ABOVE Bruce Askew. Cerro Stokes peak, and its receding glacier, left.

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