Vibes from the Warm South Atlantic

Wed 26 Mar 2008 22:05

It is a delight when you stumble across a little place with totally its own character, and everything about

ST Helena is unique, to start with the Island itself rises up from the Ocean with steep sided cliffs these

Level of about 1000 ft above the sea and nearly everyone has to live at that higher level. There is a narrow

Valley cut into the steep sided volcanic rock which leads down to the sea and it is nestled into this that the

Shops, bars and offices are based most of these buildings where built during St Helena hay day between the

1800 and 1900`s. When ships where able to make it to South Africa without refuelling there was no longer any need for a mid Atlantic Bunkering station.[fuel station] So for the last 100 years or so the people that

Live here have gone their own way minding their own business, whilst the British have been sending out

Governors and civil servants trying to decided what to do with the people and place. The people originate

From places like India, Courtesy of the British and Dutch East India Company, UK America and a few

French as a result of Napoleons imposed exile here until his death. As a result of both their heritage and

Isolation they speak English in their own very strange way, and if two ST Helena`s are speaking together

There is no way that I would have a clue what they were talking about, Even when you are speaking on a

One to one bases it is still very difficult to know what is being said and they have to make a special effort

To speak for us otherworld people. The irony is that they are very often forced to find work off the Island

To enable them to earn their living and a number end up working for the UK forces or civil service.

  As we approached the Island we were able to see the houses all built up on the flat top of the hills with corrugated iron roofs, we could only guess at this stage that that was indeed where everybody lived, but

At that stage we could not understand why anyone would want to build a house on the windy top of the

Hills. It was only after we had done a little tour around with one of the locals that we were able to see that

The hills are to steep sided and unstable for building houses on only the tops of hills are level enough. The

Sole method of contact with the rest of the world is Via a small passenger cargo ship probably one of the

Only ones still in operation travelling on an Ocean in the world. So Should you wish to visit you can board

From Portland once a year or Cape Town every 5 weeks or so depending on how many other Atlantic Islands

Need there food and postal needs attending to.  The Island is a fantastic Green Oasis in the middle of a very

Blue ocean and Sky, Their is Cricket played at the High school on a beautiful flat green field, at one end of which is a 500ft drop into the lush green valley below. The buildings down at the main town take you back

150 years and give a great feel to the place. The water around the Island is superbly clean and clear, so it was

with pleasure we were able to once again indulge in our favourite pastime of snorkelling and watching the sea

world go by. As was apparent by my repeated attempts to send the photos with the last web diary Internet links are not good and there are only 3 BBC TV channels, One sad note is the Beer comes up from Cape Town so unfortunately is South African.

 We had a very pleasant three day stopover during which we had a tour of the Island Three persons with

One guide and his taxi, taking in a visit to the Governors residency where we meet a tortoise who was in

Residency during the period that Napoleon was on the Island 180 years ago, a tour of Napoleon House

And Garden,  All for the princely sum of £10  per person very good value. Our final day was fun because

We were trying to get things sorted out for departure, fill water and diesel tanks stock up with fresh food

Milk ect, The problem was that their was a team of French mountain specialist working on the hill directly

At the back and above the quay, they were removing the loose rock from the hill to make the quay safe also

The buildings on the quayside had been taking a pounding from the falling rocks. This meant we could only

Get access to the boat between 12.00 and 13.00 whilst they had lunch and we would then be allowed back to

The boat at 17.00 when they finished work for the day. So our finally day included periods of chasing around

Getting things done punctuated by periods of hanging around waiting to be allowed back out to the boat. Our

Final contact sums ST Helena and the people up, Niamh had meet a Lady and Daughter the previous day

Whilst out walking as we were leaving the ferry boat man gave us a tin full of Home made Cakes and some

Homemade jam, for us to eat during our trip to Salvador, What a kind friendly thing to do.


So we finally got away at about 7.o clock Monday evening, this gave us a target to get to Salvador for

Saturday the 15 which so happened to be both Paddy’s day  and the date on which the 6 nations was being

Decided, with one other interesting twist England happened to be playing Ireland at Twickenham. This gave

Us 11 days to travel the1900 miles, just a bit of a big ask of the Flying Carpet but you never know with some

Good trade winds and a bit of helpful current it might well be possible. I always was an optimist. Just like to

Thank Rob Cole for very kindly thinking of me and sending on the results of the Six Nations Rugby, I am sure he was afraid that I might be unable to find out the results and would be keen to know them. So that`s

Two Welsh grand slams in 5 years I don’t believe it!  well done anyway.   


Niamh Andre and Tortoise outside the Governors House.


 We Did have a very pleasant sail to Salvador but the trade winds stayed light and pretty much from directly

Behind us for most of the passage, we had to do a fair amount of motoring and are new Spinnaker was flown

Nearly everyday, but it was just never quite possible to cover enough miles each day. And during the last few days we had to calculate our distance and fuel supply to see if we would have enough to get in. Luckily the

Wind picked up and we had a great final 200mile sail in, leaving us with 60 litrse of fuel in the boat enough

For 130 miles of motoring. We finally arrived on Sunday night and had used  about 380 litres since leaving Cape town 30 days earlier. We passed by a moorings 47ft motor catamaran on its way from Cape Town to the Caribean that had taken on board 5000 litres to get from Cape Town to South America where it would take on a further 2000 litres to finish the trip up to the Caribbean. About £4000 worth of fuel,  That made me

Feel better about buying a new spinnaker in Cape Town.  Andre had Joined us in Cape Town to get to see

What long distance sailing was all about, and we had given him a flavour of what it is, mostly patiently passing the time and miles with the occasional small burst of excitement. More of an endurance

Test than anything else. A good book or two is very helpful, and you can always use up a few hours each

Day doing your sun sights and getting a fix for your noon day position,  {in house, ops boat joke.}Coming

From windy Cape Town Sailing  for 28 days and only having winds above 20 knots for 4 of them was a

Bit of a novelty I am sure. So I do hope you enjoyed it all thanks for all your help, and good luck with all

Yours and your families plans back Home. He received his entry visa on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday

Morning he was on a flight back to South Africa. Cruising Vacation over back just in time for the Easter

Break! You see how well he`s catching on to this way of life. 


So here we are sat now in the smartest marina in Salvador surrounded by loads of very expensive big motorboats, Penguin looks very modest and far to small to be crossing Oceans.  Directly behind the marina

Is a dual carriage way behind which are a fair number of very run down houses in which a number of  

Poor people live, amongst whom are a number of young males who look across at this place I am sure

With a fair amount of envy. As our route to town is to walk along the carriage way for ½ a mile they

Must also very quickly be aware of where it is we are coming from.  Within a couple of days of us being

Here  a German crew member from our neighbouring boat was mugged at knife point by a gang of youths,

This was in broad daylight on a main street on his way back to the marina. He was shaken by the experience

And lost his wallet, but no serious injuries thank goodness. Since that encounter I have been using more taxies not taking out much money or credit cards and not going out with a camera. So not to many photos

For this city. Niamh has a small camera so she has been snapping a few shots.  This is a massive city there

Is a down town area by the docks with all the banks then you go up in the Elevators to the main old town

Full of great 200year old grand buildings. This area is heavily policed and gets a large number of tourist, it

Is also the area that you find all the live music for dance and drums.  Because of the problems for us to

Understand the Language, Portuguese, it has taken us a fair time to get to know our way around and are just

About beginning to have our bearings sorted. Even getting places in a taxi can be difficult if the guy has not

Got a clue what you are trying to say to him. As usual there are one or two bits to fix on the boat which is very entertaining try to talk about fridges or Hydraulic steering to a Brazilian. The joy of trying to keep a boat fully functional in foreign countries. This web diary is courtesy of an enforced morning on the boat waiting for the fridge Man.  But no fridge means no child Gin and Tonic when we arrive in Cape Verdes

And not being able to keep fish fresh for long if we get to catch any on the next trip. So there you have it

When Niamh lets me have some of her photos I will put some of the night street scene’s on for a bit of

Brazilian atmosphere but for now that’s all from me.       




Inside Longwood Napoleon’s Home in Exile to be fair this was the best room. No Flash photos allowed.

Last night we went up into the old town to listen to music and have a meal, It is certainly an experience not to be missed this town sure does Rock to the sound of Drums and Samba. You might get the occasional close

Contact with a person on the street when you have to hang on to what’s in your pockets but with large number`s of police at every corner things are generally peaceful. So the tourist walking around the old

District are looked after hopefully to encourage others to visit.


Penguin sailing the trade winds from Africa to Salvador,  Don’t want to think how many Slaves are

Lying on the bottom of this bit of ocean.  New Spinnaker looks good though.

View To left  and then right of Penguin parked at the Marina