The day after our arrival also Wairima and Phoenix 11 join us in the mooring field, they are going towards Brazil as most of the yachts stopping here.
(yes there is a whale at the anchorage between Eidos and Wairima)
We spend our first day in Jamestown gathering information about the island, it is Saturday and almost everything is closed. In the evening there is a fish fry at the St Helena Yacht Club where we start meeting some local sailors. We talk a lot with James who is the founder of the yacht club, he sailed over 40,000 miles in his five years circumnavigation with wife and three children arriving back to St. Helena in 2016. He also runs “St Helena Yacht Services” providing all sort of services to the yachts visiting the island.
There are no many tourists in town and we feel that every “saint” here knows about us (the St Helena residents are called saints). Saints are extremely friendly, there are just 4,000 people in the all island that has few villages. Apparently there are also about 4,000 cars, we saw plate number “1” and few other single digit plates.
Jamestown is tiny and I soon develop a daily routine that includes:
- some work on the boat before going to land
- coffee and internet at the Consulate Hotel chatting with Hazel (owner of the hotel from Botswana) and Peter (former professor of Physics at Oxford university and now helping at the hotel and owner of a farm in St. Helena)
- hunting for something for the boat at one of the Solomon’s shops (almost all shops are owned by the Solomon Family)
- some type of excursion
- swim at a very nice fresh water public swimming poll situated on the seafront
- stop for a beer at the yacht club before returning to the boat, where we meet the other cruisers or some locals
We spend nine days in St Helena and we could easily stay much longer. We walked up Jacob’s lather (699 steps), visited the “most remote” distillery in the world, had a very informative tour with Robert (the oldest guide on the island – now 82 with a mother over 100), met Jonathan an over 180 years old turtle that they claim is currently the oldest living land animal, visited the Napoleon sites, had some walks (not enough), spent time with locals.
There is so much history and variety in the environment for a such small island in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean that we are continuously surprised.
We were told the island was very expensive, in general we did not find it being the case other than for the internet, the vegetables and the ferry service to go ashore from the boat. Because of the surge it is not always recommended to land with the dinghy – in Cape Town they also told us that the ferry guys do not like cruisers using their own dinghy and that some dinghies disappeared, I do not believe this is true.
The ferry service is managed by Port Control to provide to local fishermen a simple and free service to reach their boats at the buoys and it is also available to visiting yachts for 2 pounds per person (plus extra for after-hours trips), it is a great idea but the guy managing it is very moody and can be rude and aggressive making the experience unpleasant. He also lied about the latest time to return to the boat (it is 7pm and not 6pm as he tells you!). The local yacht club is trying to improve the way dinghies can be left at the landing, but there is a lot of tension about this matter as the ferry guys also get tips and they would lose their extra income from yachts (not immaterial and probably tax-free as we did not have any receipt).
I hope Port Control will do something about it as this was the only unpleasant experience on an island that otherwise was extremely welcoming and worth visiting.