7/8 Mar08 Arrival at St Helena - Napoleon's exile & last resting place

Friday

Clouds were lined up nicely downwind - "Trade wind clouds" at last... and it's warm! But often not much wind so had to motor several times to make be sure of making St Helena before nightfall Saturday, rather than having to hang around for another 12 hours for daylight Sunday - or later. Wind has only given boatspeeds of around 3-4 knots at most, for most of today.

While sailing this morning, seas were fairly calm again so I finally bit the bullet and got into the engine compartment to take the cover off the generator (awkward & heavy) - can't see anything obviously wrong with wiring - checked 25A blade fuse with multimeter & that's OK but there are also two relays - maybe one of those has gone?

Saturday

Thought I was going to have to motorsail overnight - but wind came up nicely soon after dark and so had an excellent sail all night long, mainly goose-winged with genoa poled out to port. Has been very showery overnight and over the day - had to close the hatches several times so as not to let the rain down below ... but benefit was being able to wipe down decks and generally clean off accumulated salt.

Over the day, sailing has been mainly good, with quite a bit of sunshine in between the showers.

I caught sight of St Helena, which is not so very high, when about 30 miles off, but then it disappeared into thick mist for quite a time - a bit worrying when coming in to land if you can't see where exactly you're heading, even though the coast is relatively steep-to, so I turned on the radar and kept well offshore until the mist lifted & I could see the shoreline clearly.

I was able to keep sailing nicely until rounding the rocky NW point (Sugar Loaf Pt) of the island, when the wind died in the lee of the steep, grey, highly-stratified, mainly bare, volcanic hills as I came towards the Jamestown anchorage on the sheltered west side of the island.

It was fairly obvious where to head for, since there were three other yachts in the bay. As I came in to anchor, Greg, the 'water-taxi' ferryman, came to point out where I should head for - but, in fact, the holding is good almost anywhere, in about 18-20m. When I'd finished tidying up the boat, Greg came by again to take me onshore to clear Customs with the friendly, helpful official there - but Immigration & Port Authority will have to wait until Monday. I made my way to 'Anne's Place' - full of flags & burgees - where I was welcomed by the skippers of the other boats in the harbour - all three were singlehanders I knew from Richards Bay & Simon's Town. As we chatted, they were able to give me useful advice on seeing the island and later we ate together before heading back to the dockside to catch the latest possible (6.45pm!) 'ferry' out to our boats.

Time here is GMT - I'm actually in Britain's time zone!! The money in use is sterling - but I discovered that they have their own 'St Helena & Ascension' notes & coins. I had been intending sending postcards to quite a few people from here - but heard that the supply ship was in this morning to collect post.... and wouldn't be back for another 6 weeks to deliver/collect the next lot of post. The nearest airstrip to here is on Ascension Island, several hundred miles to the NNW. The supply ship makes its run between the U.K., S.Africa, St Helena & Ascension....

Written by : Mike

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