Jon Sanders blog – anchored off Jamestown, St Helena

Well, I have anchored off Jamestown, Saint Helena. A good place to be. So it is.

Tied to a visiting yacht mooring; they are yellow or red. Red £2 per day under 40 tonnes. £3 for over 40, that’s not me – 9 tonnes. There are 23 buoys.

I made the usual approach calls on channel 16 to Saint Helena (Maritime) Radio; all easily done. Especially as Kelly Scott, PR at Royal Perth Yacht Club, had already advised the Port Control. Just like she would.

I have email and SMS on the yacht via Iridium.

I will, one day, stick up a hotel style sticker “this is a WI-FI zone”. Because it is…

Also, a tracker on the yacht which many of you follow. Thanks, heaps. And the General Manager of the Royal Perth Yacht Club (Stuart Walton) has full access AIS, and I guess transmitted VHF and satellite.

All powered by SuperWind, the whispering giant.

Ever been to London (Britain) in recent years and decades. Expensive! The value of the £ (exchange). So it is at Saint Helena. Plus everything has to get there.

On St. Helena, the people (folk) are a mix of nationalities and are all very good looking. In former years a combination of different nationalities including, slaves, Boers imprisoned in the Boer War, etc.

Friendly, (dare I say the friendliest people on the planet). True. Really true. And loyal to the crown.

On arrival, the Port Captain (a youngish) South African comes out to see you, or you see him in his beautiful building and office, as was with me. Then to the Police Dept. who handle immigration and customs.

All visiting yachtsmen must have health insurance, easily obtainable on the Island at £2 per day, bit more for me; I’m ancient – don’t even feel it (or should that read behave it).

It is not wise to use one’s dinghy to shore. The landing is stone – built, and there is always a surge. Once in a while untenable. Teenagers like to swim off the landing and nearby rocks.

The island is surrounded by high cliffs, as is the town itself – Jamestown – which is in a narrow valley. Much of the island is hilly.

Most of the domestic houses are high on top of the cliffs.

To get to the top is a winding road. Or you can walk up Jacobs Ladder. 699 steps. There is no way in the world I could do that. (You would have to pay me to go down it, and lots).

In the year 1502 Portuguese sighted St. Helena. For more than 100 years they kept it a secret.

1659 English East India Company annexed it. The island has been a British possession ever since.

1673 the Dutch did the Argentinian thing (Falkland Islands 1982) and nicked it. British recaptured it. They usually do.

1829 Jacobs Ladder was built, 699 steps.

During the 1800s the buildings took on a beautiful British Georgian style. In its own character and style.

Napoleon after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo was exiled to St. Helena for 30 years, lucky thing. Nice house in the middle of the beautiful country. He died on St. Helena. It is not so long ago his remains were removed and sent to France.

There are no ATMs. Not one, or very few. I have not found or looked for shops that use credit or debit cards. All Cash £. Some places still use 1950s cash registers.

No supermarkets to speak of and the mini supermarkets are called grocery stores. They have all one needs: little choice, but obviously most wanted. OK by me.

I was waiting and waiting, and then they came. (While I was in the one and only Bank: The Bank of Saint Helena).

Liberdade have arrived

Rhys Brindley and Trevor Youngberg (young mountain), in the Kim Swarbrick design 27 ft. SS27 named Liberdade.

They were going to leave Cape Town same day as me, but no wind.

I think they went out. They didn’t feel so bright next day, so they left the following day.

(Like me, they take no grog whilst sailing).

They did the passage in 14 days (excellent), me 13 days.

The sudden gale I got, they got too.

Except they were several hundred miles south. The depression was with them.

First wind fresh behind and strong. Fun, wow!

But it increased. White-water was breaking over. They were knocked down 90 degrees twice. The self-steering could note cope. They put the drogue out (a drag behind the yacht on a rope), took all their sail down and hand steered two hours on two hours off. Steering was difficult. No sail. Hoisted little storm jib on the front. Steering good.

One occasion Rhys said you could hear the white-water, then it flooded over the boat, blew the companionway cover (from behind) out. Worried it would burst the washboards which blocks the sea coming into the cabin.

It was awful during the two hours off. Hear the surf coming, the roar of the sea going over and worry about the other guy outside. Is he alright!

Winds to 45 knots eventually moderated.

With the drogue out stopping an uncontrolled surfing yacht and help steering – the Aires self-steering on my boat copes. Better than me steering. Their unit, different to mine, might be too small. Maybe their yacht is too light.

It seems they did everything correctly. Sailed in a real gale and came out the other side A1. (First-time in a major gale)

I have a lot less apprehension in that stuff than when I first started, decades ago.

Didn’t stop them putting more sail on later and start catching me. ‘Good sailors so they are’.

Regards to all. See you next week.


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