St Helena

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 21 Jan 2011 15:54
The AIS doesnât seem to work any more so we are unable to ascertain details of ships, with whom we might wish to call on the VHF, to identify their intentions and ensure that they have seen us. We can and do still call up other ships if we feel threatened by their proximity but it is a lot easier when one can call them by the ships name, MMSI number or call sign.
The radar became faulty but after Dick had stuck his head in a hole for a while, this problem was rectified. Whew!
A number of the rally boats have been celebrating the completion of their circumnavigation by longitude, having crossed the meridian. We completed somewhere between Cape Infanta and Cape Agulhas, on the Wild coast of South Africa, having started from Prevasa in Greece April 2009. David and Sue on Voyageur have now completed two circumnavigations. Their first was with Blue Water Rally via the Red Sea. I think that it is safer to take the Cape of Good Hope route, despite the dangerous south coast of Africa.
Sunday night, when the sun disappeared below the horizon, there was a green flash. Wow! I would never have believed this phenomenon but have seen it three times now. We have been told that it is an optical illusion but on this occasion, three of us watched this amazing sight and it looked real enough to us. Moe captured it on camera but kicked himself that he hadnât been filming it on video.
The SSB net was conducted on channel 6Bravo on Monday morning as the duty net controller felt that the fleet was so dispersed, it would be easier to contact everyone. I guess it cut down on the number of relays that had to be done but we were not able to hear any of the other boats responding to the net controller, only the positions as they were repeated by him.
It appears that one of our debit cards has been cloned and since we left Cape Town 8th January, 10000GBP has been withdrawn from our UK bank account. While at sea we cannot check the on-line banking but fortunately, our relationship manager at the HSBC alerted us by email that things didnât look right, so we have now managed to cancel the card.
Way back in 1972 while waiting in Cape Town for the ship to sail back to Southampton in the UK, all our luggage, including irreplaceable jewelry, was stolen. Perhaps twice is enough, maybe we wonât rush back to Africa after all.
We finally gave in at 6.30am on Tuesday morning, with the wind blowing between 2 and 5 knots, Dick and I took down the parasailor and resorted to the iron sail. The forecast for today is for little wind and what there is tends to fluctuate between 4knots and 10knots true.
We arrived at the anchorage in James Bay at 1.30pm and picked up a mooring buoy. As soon as we had eaten lunch, we took a water ferry to the island to sort out the formalities with Customs and Immigration. There was cloud over the island and a light precipitation fell but didnât last long and within a couple of hours the sun was shining.
HMS Prison is attached to the same building as the office where we had to sort out the immigration procedures with a female constable. There are currently four inmates in the prison although there is capacity for 15. One of the inmates was serving a six year sentence. Also in the same building was a large room with 2 single beds, 2 wardrobes, 2 chest of drawers, 2 easy chairs and a large table. This was for juvenile detainees.
We bought an access card and managed to get on-line in a local cafà though we were unable to access both of the email accounts.
A helicopter was busy flying back and forth, involved in the construction of the safety net which was being put in place to catch rock falls from the steep cliffs.
Wednesday night we took the water ferry ashore and went for a meal at Annâs Place with John, Jenny, Chris and Lela from Tzigany and David from Voyageur. Susan didnât join us as she was not feeling well and had felt that way since before we left Cape Town.
Thursday morning we once again took the water ferry ashore. The water was low and the boat was thrown all over the place making it difficult to get ashore.
The Tourist office had organized a round the island tour for us, taking in all of the places of interest, at no charge to us. The bus picked us up outside the yacht club around 9.30am but being over subscribed, a second bus was provided for only 4 of us and the tour guide.
We visited the Briars Pavilion where Napolean stayed for the first three months of his exile here while the renovations to Longwood House were being completed; we then had a guided tour around Longwood House, where Napoleon remained until he died 5th May 1821.
We passed the heart-shaped waterfall at the top of Jamesâ Valley but the reservoirs were not overflowing yet so there was no water. We then went to Sane Valley to visit Napoleonâs tomb. His body was exhumed some years later and taken away by the French.
Next stop was Plantation House, built in 1972 by the East Indian Company as the country residence for the Islandâs Governors. The Governor was not in residence, currently visiting Tristan da Cuhna but the Union Jack was still flying at the top of the flagpole.
In the garden we met Jonathan, a hug,e 200 year old tortoise, along with another giant tortoise as well as a smaller one. They were originally from the Seychelles.
We drove to the top of Jacobâs ladder, built in 1829, to haul manure and send goods down. The ladder, consisting of 699 eleven inch high steps, is 600feet high.
When we returned to the boat and switched on the generator, it failed. Initially we thought it was the impellor but it turned out to be a woodruff key in the pump. Thankfully, we had a spare pump on board so once again, Dick saved the day.
Thursday night there was a barbecue at the yacht club. Two of the boats that were due to leave during the day, deferred their departure until after the barbecue. The food provided by the local people was excellent and because they had gone to so much trouble, each of the skippers made a donation to the club. Subsequently, on behalf of the World ARC, Bev, one of our crew, in the absence of anyone from Rally Control, gave a burgee and a WARC flag to the Commodore.
Next day more jobs to be done on the boat and the final provisioning of fresh vegetables for the passage to Brazil.
On the way back to the boat, we visited the local museum and placed in the appropriate box, the slip containing our vote that the indigenous Ebony should be the national flower rather than the Arun Lilly. The Ebony, only found in St Helena, was all but extinct with a single plant remaining, the rest having been grazed by wild goats. Due to the hard work by the local conservationists, there are now a number of Ebony plants growing on the island.