Arriving at St Helena
Pearl of Persia
Tue 28 Jan 2014 17:13
St Helena appeared over the horizon, at 0430 on 24th January, as we hoped, a
black volcanic peak, seemingly devoid of all vegetation. It took us another
4 hours to round the northern tip and approach the anchorage off Jamestown,
and finally tie up to a buoy and be able to relax, the first time in almost
two weeks. The etiquette arriving in a new country is to fly the host
nations flag from the starboard spreader, and then the yellow 'Q' flag to
show we were an arriving foreign vessel and request customs and immigration
clearance. Within an hour, a little boat arrived with three officials,
paperwork was completed and we were free to go ashore. Entry into the town
itself is across a moat, through the gated archway, the remnants of the
fort, and into a perfectly preserved Georgian main street. The church, the
magistrate court, H.M. Prison on the right, old fort on the left, a few
We tried to do some provisioning but surprisingly virtually no fresh fruit
or vegetables. The only contact with the outside world is the supply ship
which arrives every 6 weeks from Cape Town, but why nothing locally grown?
Early visitors describe the gardens and orchards. And the early visitor
included the famous and infamous. Napoleon of course, his place of final
exile after Waterloo, but also Captains Bligh and Cook, Darwin, and Halley
(of the comet).
We did an interesting tour of the island, 6 hours up and down the small
lanes, in a 1929 GM Charabanc, visiting Napoleon's residence, the elegant
Governor's Plantation House and the surprisingly lush countryside.
The people, known as Saints, are a light brown in colour, reflecting the
many who have passed through, and the English spoken is a gentle cross
between west country, South African with a touch of Jamaican. Everyone is
universally friendly with old fashioned manners.
The town is squeezed into the valley between barren volcanic hills and
rising up the cliff overlooking the town is Jacobs Ladder, 699 steps at a
dizzying angle. Originally installed as a slide to drag provisions to the
upper settlement, now just the steps remain. We dutifully climbed up, trying
to avoid vertigo enjoyed the views and then down again. Where did our
fitness go to?