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Thirteenth Blog from on board Perie Banou II

by Jon Sanders on 9 Mar 2017
The Castle is the main government building of Saint Helena - Jon Sanders 10th Circumnavigation RPYC
Well I am anchored off Jamestown Saint Helena. Good place to be. So it is. Tied to a visiting yacht mooring, they are yellow or red. Red £2 per day under 40 tons. £3 for over 40, that's not me. 9 tons. There are 23 buoys. I made the usual approach calls on channel 16 to Saint Helena (Maritime) Radio. All easily done. Specially 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 yacht which many of you follow. Thanks heaps. And the General Manager of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, (Stuart Walton) has full access AIS, I guess transmitted VHF and satellite. All powered by 'Super Wind', 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 ones dinghy to shore. The landing is stone - built, 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 cliff 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, - 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. Been a British possession ever since. 1673 the Dutch did the Argentinian thing (Falkland Islands 1982) and nicked it. British recaptured it. Usually do.

1829 Jacobs Ladder 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 to France.

There are no ATMs. No one, or 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. Mini Super Markets are called Grocery stores. 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. Bank of Saint Helena). 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. Didn't feel so bright next day, so left the following.
(Like me take no grog whilst sailing). They did the passage in 14 days (excellent) me 13.

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 breaking over. Knocked down 90 degrees twice. Self-steering could not cope. They put the drogue out (a drag behind the yacht on a rope). Took all their sail down. Hand steering 2 hours on 2 hours off. Steering difficult. No sail. Hoisted little storm jib on 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 wash boards 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 all right. Winds to 45 knots eventually moderated.

With 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 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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