The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sat 17 Feb 2018 18:26



15:55S 05:43W


We’re safely tied up on a big mooring at James Town, St Helena.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


17 February 2018   Namibia to St Helena (Day 11)

At dawn, we were only 15 miles away from St Helena and could see the flat-topped, rugged island shrouded by clouds - very exciting.  As we sailed closer, the island looked very bleak with huge cliffs soaring up from the sea.  The clouds continued to hide the tops of the hills, but occasionally a flash of green would peek out high on the island, showing signs of cultivation. 


We sailed within a half a mile of the north-east corner of St Helena and then maintained our distance off the cliffs.  For a change, the wind chased us around the island and we were able to sail to within ½ mile of the mooring field at James Town.  On the approaches to the town, we could see old fortifications built into the cliffs defending the town.  


Glenys and I always play a little game when approaching a new anchorage, trying to guess how many other cruisers will already be there.  My guess of ten was much closer than Glenys’ six because there were already eleven boats swinging on the moorings. 


The moorings are rubber-covered, 5 foot diameter disks, with a huge 8” diameter ring lying flat on the top of the mooring.  There are no nice rope pennants to pick up with a boat hook, so we were fortunate that a French guy from “Altea” came over in his dinghy and threaded my two mooring lines through the ring.  We were settled by 10:30.


I called Port Control on Ch14 and they said that we could either come in to clear at 11:00 or 15:00 this afternoon, so we elected to go in straight away.  I called for the Ferry Boat on Ch16 and he said that he’d pick us up at 11:00.  We were grateful that we’d put fenders down on one side of Alba because the rough ferry boat doesn’t have any fenders.  The charge for the ferry is £2 per person per return trip. 


David in Port Control was waiting for us in a white building on the dockside, which has a clock.  He took us into the Customs office, where two lovely ladies helped us to quickly fill in a form.  We filled in another form for Port Control and paid over £35 in Port Duties.  David then directed us to the Police Station where we completed the Immigration forms.  We have to go to the Immigration office in town on Monday morning to get our passports stamped.  We were done and dusted by 12:00.


My first impressions are that I love the place.  James Town is tucked into a narrow valley with very steep rocky slopes reaching hundreds of feet above the town.  We entered through an arched gate in the defensive wall stretching across the mouth of the valley.  Once inside the fortifications, the buildings along the winding streets look to be centuries old.  Everyone is very friendly.  We can’t wait to explore the island.


We wandered around for a little while, bought a couple of loaves of brown bread and retired to Anne’s Place, which is inside a lovely little park.  Mark & Ron from “Beguine” were already seated in the nice little restaurant, so we joined them.  They’ve been here for a week and gave us some hints and tips.  After a couple of beers and fishcake burgers, we retired back to Alba for a well-earned afternoon nap. We had an early night.