Day 103, Year 6 Getting Ready to Leave St. Helena

Day 103, Year 6 Getting Ready to Leave St. Helena
Date: Friday, February 4, 2011
Weather: Mixed Sun and Clouds, Very Few Sprinkles
Location: James Bay, St. Helena Island

Our day was spent doing all of the things that needed to be done to ready us for the long passage ahead. Some things were self-imposed like getting the photos on the website and mailing post cards while other things were necessary like checking out, doing the last laundry on shore, and buying the last fresh veggies and eggs. Much of the day was spent uploading photos to the website, and now I can finally say that all South Africa and St. Helena photos are uploaded and linked to the website! That took a huge effort but I am so happy that it is done. We spent most of the day in town getting these things done and waiting for the right time to Skype Heather and gang. The ‘right time’ was 1:30 pm our time, 8:30 am on Cape Cod, but unfortunately we had an impossible connection. We would be connected one minute and off the next. We tried for almost half an hour, but never had more than a couple of seconds of connection. We got a quick glimpse of Sam and Jonah, but that was it. Oma and Granddad were not happy campers, but there was nothing we could do about it so we just had to move on. After the attempted Skype connection, we headed back to Windbird to hang out the laundry I had done on shore and to deliver tons of water. We bought twelve 5-liter plastic bottles of drinking water in town and filled all of the jerry jugs to complete filling Windbird’s water tanks. On the way we made a quick stop at the St. Helena Museum. It was a good stop as the little museum is jam-packed with local history. We no sooner got back on Windbird than it was time to return to town, but I did get to hang the laundry out for an hour before bringing it back into the cockpit. It was almost dry. And Mark got the water tank filled and two of the water jugs tied on deck. The other two had to go back in with us for the evening for another refill.

The dinner at Anne’s Place with other cruisers was delightful. There were nine adults and two children-Dominique and Dominique of Kea, Larry and Mary Ann of Traversay III, Swante of Chaconne, Lisa and Paul of Kire (plus Arne and Karl), and Mark and I. The food was good and the chance to talk with one another was great. Everyone is heading in slightly different directions, but it was great to compare notes. Only Larry and Mary Ann of Traversay are headed in our direction, so we exchanged contact information and will hopefully be able to keep in contact along the way. We had arranged for a late night ferry at 9:00 pm, so the party ended and we headed home.

Once here, we thought we would try to contact Justin, Jo, and Ziggy via Skype. The connection in town is much stronger (supposedly), but JJ&Z were not home earlier. They just bought a new (used) car and needed to pick it up in Albuquerque. We thought we were not going to be able to talk to them at all, but the Skype connection from the boat tonight was far superior to the connection with Heather and gang earlier in the afternoon. We at least got to see Ziggy and he got to see us. When we are ready to send this log, we will give one more try at connecting with Heather and Jed. They should be home from work now and maybe we’ll have a lucky connection.

Tomorrow morning we will make one more quick trip into town before take-off. We were convinced tonight that the local rum is just too good to leave here without buying some. And I have a few more post cards that I’d love to post. So it will be early into town and off for the loooooooong passage to the Caribbean.

110204 Day 103 St. Helena–Last Glimpses of Jamestown

Day 102, Year 6 Water, Water

Day 102, Year 6 Water, Water
Date: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Weather: Rainy Until Late Afternoon
Location: James Bay, St. Helena Island

It seemed everything we did today had to do with water. It rained on us all day while we did the two ferry runs to bring jerry jugs of water to the boat. We took showers and I washed the cockpit cushions in the wash tubs on the pier. So we were just wet all morning. The new plastic jerry jugs hold 25 liters of water which means that each jug weighs 55 pounds. Getting those on the little ferry boat that is swished this way and that by the undulating waves that reach the shore is also a wet job. By the time we did the second load, it was high tide and the waves washed over the concrete pier, over our feet, and all around the jerry jugs. By the time we got them on the constantly moving ferry, everything was wet. So it was just a wet kind of day.

Dominque and Dominque of Kea arrived around noon today. They had very little wind all the way from Namibia, so it took them ten days. Like us, they had totally overcast skies all the way. People here are saying that having this much rain and overcast weather is quite unusual for here. It should be bright and sunny, but it certainly is not. So it goes. But back to Kea. When we were doing our second water run, we had the ferry pick up the Doms, and while Mark filled the jerry jugs, I went with them to Customs and got them started on the check-in process. Robert, the tour guide we went with yesterday, was on the waterfront when we went ashore, so we were able to arrange for a tour for Kea tomorrow. Mark met me in town at the bank as we needed money to pay for the diesel jerry jugs that the ferry man picked up off our boat, went to get them filled, and returned them all while we were on shore. The charge for having this done for you is so minimal that we were willing to pay the little extra instead of trying to lug more heavy jugs in and out of taxi and onto the ferry. So all fuel tanks are full and all diesel jerry cans on deck are full. We have two more water runs to do tomorrow to fill the one empty water tank and will then have four jerry jugs of water on deck as well. Once that is done, we will spend the afternoon in town making Skype calls to our kids, and then tomorrow night there is a cruiser organized dinner at Anne’s Place. On Saturday morning we still plan to leave here if the weather is okay. We’ll check that tonight when we send the log.

In between all the runs to town, Mark has managed to get almost all of the South Africa photos uploaded to the internet and now just has to link them to the website. Mark also went up the mast to attach a Spectra line to our first set of spreaders and then bring the line down to the deck level to secure it to the chain plate of the aft port lower stay. He did this because there are now several broken strands in that stay. The hope is that if the stay should break, the Spectra line will support the mast at the lower spreaders. At this point, there is nothing else that we can do except hope the stay doesn’t break. And if it does, we only hope the Spectra line will do its job. Between this and the watermaker that is not working, we are feeling a little “broken” at the start of this up-coming passage. So we’re hoping the weather will give us a little break and that we will have smooth sailing. One can always hope.

110203 Day 102 St. Helena–Evening at Anne's Place

Day 101, Year 6 Tour of St. Helena

Day 101, Year 6 Tour of St. Helena
Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Weather: Sunny with Intermittent Low Clouds and Drizzle
Location: James Bay, St. Helena Island

Today we did the whirlwind tour of this beautiful, mountainous island. We went in the back of a Datsun pick-up truck with a canvas top. It was just the right size for the five adults and two children on our tour. Lisa and Paul of Kire (Germany) and their two little ones, Arne aged 4 and Charles aged 2, plus Swante of Chaconne (Finland), and Mark and I were the passengers. Our driver Robert, a local man who used to drive the school bus and has retired to tour guide, was wonderful. He gave us the formal history of the island as well as the personal view. We saw the beauty of the mountains, learned all about Napoleon’s exile here, visited Longwood where Napoleon spent his last years, learned much about the agricultural history of the island, visited the Governor’s home called the Plantation House and met Jonathan, 179 year-old tortoise who was brought here in the late 1800’s from the Seychelles, and ended our day at the top of Jacob’s Ladder, the 699 steps that lead down to Jamestown from Ladder Hill. It was a jam-packed day, but most enjoyable. And we learned so much.

We no sooner got back to Windbird that we had visitors–Mary Ann and Larry of Traversay from Vancouver, Canada. We met them briefly in Simon’s Town and had a great time getting to know each other this evening. They came over in their dinghy for an impromptu Happy Hour and then invited us back to their boat for dinner. They went home to get dinner started and then Larry came back to get us. Traversay is a 45-foot steel boat with SO much room inside. It is a beautiful boat and we had a lovely dinner and evening. Mary Ann is a musician and when they had their boat built, they specified room for a full-size electronic piano to be installed on a slider that goes under their bed. Before we left Traversay tonight, we got a little concert. How delightful!

Tomorrow will be a workday. We need to get fuel and water for the long trek ahead and since that needs to be ferried out here jerry can by jerry can, it could be a long day. But hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow, we will be ready to leave for the Caribbean. We plan to stick around on Friday to make Skype calls to our children, and then take off on Saturday morning if the weather looks right. Friday night there is a cruiser-organized dinner at Anne’s Place, a restaurant in town, so that will be the perfect send-off for our almost 4,000 mile trek.

110202 Day 101 St. Helena–Island Tour

Day 100, Year 6 Arrival in St. Helena

Day 100, Year 6 Arrival in St. Helena
Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Weather: Overcast, Foggy, with Drizzle; Winds SSE 8-10
Temperature: Water and Air 74 degrees F
Latitude: 15 55.035 S
Longitude: 005 43.072 W
Miles Traveled: 1878
Location: James Bay, St. Helena Island

Passage Statistics:
1878 miles in 339 hrs 20 mins (14 days 3 hrs 20 mins)
Sailing Hours-319 hours 05 minutes
Motor Sailing Hours-20 hours 15 minutes
Average Speed-5.5 knots per hour

After a squally night, we sailed along the rugged northern coast of St. Helena at 6:45 am GMT and then motored the last twenty minutes into the anchorage at James Bay. I came on watch at 5 am this morning and took note of the lights behind us. Mark and I both thought it must be a fishing boat as we were very close to the eastern coast of St. Helena. But as I watched, I realized the lights were those of a sailboat under power. After days of seeing no boats, I couldn’t believe we were approaching the island in company with another sailboat. As it turns out, the boat was Kiboti from Spain, not a boat we have ever seen before, but hope to meet while here. As we closed in on James Bay, a small ferry boat came out to greet us and show us the way to a mooring ball. And on the mooring ball right in front of us was Kire with Paul, Lisa, and their two little ones aboard. We sailed with this German couple from Mossel Bay to Simon’s Town and it was wonderful to find someone here we know. They swam over to say hello and to invite us to join them in on an island tour tomorrow. They arranged for this yesterday but thought it would be fine to add two more. Perfect. And by 10:00 am Customs had come to the boat to check us in and we were on the ferry to town. There is no dock here. Cargo and passengers alike, even if it is the Queen, must all take the reasonably priced ferry into the concrete bulk head where you grab a rope and pull yourself ashore as the ferry does a little dance trying to stay in place as the surf rolls in. It was calm today, and should be that way the rest of the week, so hopefully we’ll not have to leap ashore in wicked surf. It’s tricky enough when it is calm. The town is as advertised. It is like stepping back in time, but not really back all that far. Jamestown reminds me of small town USA in the early 1950’s. We dropped our laundry at a Anne’s Restaurant and the waitress said she’d pay the woman who’d pick it up and we could pay her later. Nice. We went in one store looking for water jerry jugs. They had none, but told us where to go. A little later we saw a woman on the street and she asked if we found the jerry cans. She remembered us and took the time to make sure her advice had panned out. Everyone wants to talk and everyone wants to be helpful. It is by far the friendliest little place we have ever stopped in all our travels.

But that said, I must add that the appearance of the island is almost surreal. It looks like the mountains were violently thrust out of the sea helter-skelter and then a number of volcanoes erupted pouring dripping lava over the mountains kind of like melting ice cream, and then this flow was stopped dead in its tracks and frozen in time. There are shades of olive green, brown, and rust on the mountains and there is a huge network of wire netting around Jamestown, keeping the mountains from collapsing into the town. And then there are those 699 steps (I think I reported some higher number in an earlier log) that go straight up the mountain. I’m really not sure I’m ready to tackle this one, neither up nor down, but we shall see. When I had to climb 4 flights of stairs to the Customs Office this morning, my knees almost collapsed under me. But there are those who have run up the steps in five minutes. Count me out on that one!

110201 Day 100 St. Helena–Arrival