Sunday, 21 February 2016

St Helena Day 5

Hi everyone,
Today we went on a tour of the island with Robert Peters.  It was a great day with a very good tour guide.  We saw a lot of the island.  The varied environments are amazing, ranging from semi-desert to rain forest with almost everything inbetween.  There appears to be very little flat land on the island, with most of that used for housing.  The cattle have to graze on very steep hillsides.

View of Jamestown from inland

Napoleon's exile at St Helena seems to play a large part in the island's story.  To us the longer history of use as a stopover for ships returning from the east is far more interesting.  The fortifications on the island are substantial and were kept up to date right through to WW2.  High Knoll is a very impressive 18th century fort. 

Entrance to Longwood - Napoleon's residence/prison

Walls of High Knoll fort - built in the 1790s

View of Jamestown from High Knoll fort

We visited a point overlooking the new airport which is a few months from opening.  The project has provided work for 500 saints, a substantial percentage of the population of 4000.  The airport is apparently designed for 737-sized aircraft.  There is limited over-run at each end - in fact there are cliffs!

View of airport from Millenium Garden

The island is volcanic in origin but no volcanoes have been active in recorded history.  The natural features of the island are extremely varied.  Within a mile or two one moves from desert to lush grassland to forest.

Lot, Lot's Wife and the three Pinnacles

Beef cattle on steep hilllside

We visited The Plantation where HE the Governor resides.  A very impressive building.  Jonathan the giant tortoise lives in the grounds and is the oldest resident of the island.

The Plantation with 150 year old Jonathan

We visited the St Helena Distillery which is run by a dedicated entrepreneur.  He produces spiced rum, a coffee liqueur, tungi and gin.  All very tasty.

The still at the St Helena Distillary

After returning to Zen Again we had a very pleasant swim off the boat.  The water here is very clear, perhaps 20m visibility.  Some of the sailors have seen whale sharks pass under their boats here on the moorings.

This evening we were listening to the BBC World Service on the HF radio when a DSC Distress message came through.  It was from a vessel nearly 3000nm to the NW.  The call was repeated several times without acknowledgement so we called St Helena Radio to inform them.  More than an hour later with the DSC distress calls still coming in regularly we received a broadcast DSC acknowledgement from an RCC in Hawaii - 9000nm away!

Tomorrow will be our last fully day at St Helena.  On Monday we plan to clear out and depart.  We have decided to bypass Ascension Island and sail direct to the Caribbean.  Based on our consumption of water since leaving Australia we will have enough for the 4 week passage.  Can't believe our next port will be in the Caribbean!

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