Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

St Helena

Approaching James' Bay at dawn
After an easy two week passage, where the only known item that broke was a Harken block on the kicker; the first approach round the NW of the island in the dawn gave the impression a forbidding and uninhabited area of steep and fairly arid cliffs. On entering James Bay you see buildings on the top of the cliffs and the 699 steep steps of Jacob’s Ladder leading to them.
The town of Jamestown is almost completely hidden in its valley behind the port area. With its relative isolation from the rest of the world landing in St Helena requires a step back in time. It has a three-weekly supply ship from Cape Town. There are no ATMs, a mobile phone system that appears to be accessible only with local SIM cards, expensive WiFi in a couple of locations and currency which, although equivalent to pounds sterling, comes in banknotes that are apparently not exchangeable off the island. The bank, where you have to queue, does not even exchange US dollars!

We took an island tour with Robert, an octogenarian who runs tours. His minibus was off the road so 8 of us were in the back of his 4WD, with two in the front.
Longwood House
The main tourist attractions on the island are related to Napoleon’s enforced stay there after Waterloo up to his death there in 1821.  It’s amazing to realise that the risk of Napoleon’s escape was so high that the British acquired Tristen de Cunha and Ascension Islands to further isolate him.  Longwood House in which he lived has been kept largely as it was. At our time of visit some of the furniture and artifacts have been sent to Paris for restoration.
Napoleon's empty tomb
The tomb in which he was buried until he was removed to Paris sixteen years later was unmarked because the British and French could not agree on the inscription.
The new airport site
St Helena's isolation will soon be broken. A new airport, to be opened by Prince Edward, is in the final stages of construction – a test flight by a 737 landed on 12 April.

Green interior
The interior of the island is fairly green, but with barren areas clearly showing it's volcanic origin. Agriculture, although formerly extensive, has declined. An attempt was made to establish a flax industry but now the flax covers the hills. Dairy industry declined when farmers were no longer allowed to sell their own milk.

With barren volcanic peaks
Jacob's ladder from the top
The easiest way to get to the top of Jacob's ladder is by road from the valley bottom.
James Bay anchorage
There is a good bird's eye view of the anchorage.

Consulate Hotel
The Consulate Hotel in the main street of Jamestown was the preferred watering hole with the best WiFi and reasonably priced snacks for lunch.
Minnie B at sunset
Being on the western side of the anchorage the anchorage was the scene for some excellent sunset shots of the boats.
Sea Bunny at anchor (Photo: Phil Heaton)