Saint Helena Wrap-up

We were in Saint Helena for nearly 4 weeks! It started with 6 days in quarantine which was a drag at times, but did allow us to do a number of needed chores and make some minor repairs on the boat, as well as to spend some focused time together and decompress from the passage. Then we were finally freed to come ashore after 37 days alone together on the boat. Other than having to regain our land legs and aclimate to the warm temperatures, we were all quite happy.

We had ordered a replacement generator for our Watt&Sea hydrogenerator while on transit to Saint Helena. The plane that comes to the island every 2 weeks from Johannesburg brings DHL airfreight and our package was already in Jo-burg before we even arrived to Jamestown, St Helena. So things were looking good for about a 10 day - 2 week shore visit with the plane due in on 23 April. Well, not so fast! Isolated islands don't always work the way other places can. The DHL cargo got bumped from the plane. We were slightly disappointed but it wasn't a huge problem for us. We felt even less frustration when we learned that critical medications were also bumped. While power generation is very important on sailboats, our issues were certainly not life or death.

We knew we should be on our way before too long, but we also didn't want to risk never seeing our expensive part. So we decided we should wait to see if it would make the 7 May plane. We are happy to report that it did indeed. Of course, cargo needs a couple of days to get moved to town from the airport and to clear through customs. This was completed Tuesday and we followed that up by clearing out for a Wednesday morning departure.

The extra time turned into a blessing in so many ways. The time gave us a chance to sort out evisas to obtain permission for a short stop at Ascension Island on part 2 of our Atlantic transit to the Caribbean. It also allowed us to tackle a number of admin issues and figure out where it made the most sense to clear in to the Caribbean. We plan to do boat work in Trinidad for hurricane season. However, for a number of reasons, we decided we would plan to go to Grenada first. So after that decision, there was more admin to complete - health checks for the cats and electronic paperwork for the boat and crew.

Additionally, the extra time and those quarantine days to make repairs, meant that we got a chance to slow down and enjoy Saint Helena. We had an amazing island tour from Derek Richards. Not only was it an extremely solid tour, we became friends. He took us back to Napoleon's house a different day so that we didn't lose our tour time with a longer visit inside the house and afterwards he treated us to a wonderful BBQ afternoon at his gorgeous home with his wife Linda. The gardens and grounds of his house are amazing with a lovely view out to the sea to top it off. We tried to get them out to Zephyros, but Linda was not having it - no boats for her. (And while we pushed and teased, we can hardly blame her! The mooring field is indeed quite rolly most days and you have to take a small ferry boat out and back. It is a tough ask for anyone who is not a fan of boats.) So after trying to get them out to the boat, a run in on Friday night in town saw us making plans together for Sunday. We had another BBQ at the cricket pitch as Derek tried to explain cricket to us. It was another fun day and felt like a true Saint Helena experience watching cricket and mingling with the locals at the makeshift field bar.

We also took some excellent hikes. Saint Helena has 21 "post box" walks. These are trail walks with a small box at the end with a guestbook and stamp. Many people try to do all of them. We managed to complete 3 and had planned to do an additional one, but got rained out (and then ran out of time). Besides the post box walks we did a few other hikes. We climbed Jacob's Ladder - 699 (steep) steps built between what was an old incline (40% grade!) in the 1800s - first built in 1829 and then again in 1871. We walked around old fortifications - there are lots of them. We saw the house where Napoleon served out the last years of his imprisonment and died as well as his old tomb. We visited the world's oldest living land creature - Jonathan, a Seychelle Tortoise that is thought to be over 190 years old. He was actually quite active and seemingly interested in us, or at least getting the best leaves to eat near us.

It was an informative and educational visit, as well. Besides the Napoleon house there is a well done museum that we spent an afternoon in. We also took a hike to Diana's Peak (one of the post box walks) and searched out bugs in the cloud forest. We were later able to sit and have a debrief of the pictures with an entomologist at the conservation trust. We bought the bug book for the island (and have met 2 of the 3 authors) and Daxton is enjoying reading about all of the endemic and invasive invertebrate species. (Unschooled Science win!) While we were on the hike we were also able to stop by the endemic nursery and talk with the plant specialists. They are trying to keep invasive species at bay and replant endemic plants. We also saw field workers and had friendly chats with them about their conservation projects.

We of course spent time eating ashore and relaxing as well as visiting with fellow cruisers. We met so many interesting people from different boats. Many people were just starting out from Cape Town and others were continuing on or wrapping up circumnavigations. We made lots of new friends that we hope to see in other ports along the way. Skylark, one of our new friends, held a massive Cinco de Mayo party on their 54ft Amel with 17 people aboard - somehow it didn't even feel very crowded. We are looking forward to hanging out with them again in Ascension. They are about 2 days ahead of us so we hope to share more good times and sundowners with them. We also hung out with our Falkland friends on Kelper. They left the Falklands at the same time as us, but had a heck of a trip and arrived almost 2 weeks behind us. Thankfully they only had to wait 2 days to go ashore in the new testing scheme after 44 days at sea. We enjoyed catching up with them and swapping passage stories. We will see them again in Trinidad.

All in all, it was a fascinating stop. There were so many wonderful, welcoming and helpful locals. We enjoyed meeting them all and there are too many to even start to name - every one made our visit special. We really enjoyed the extra time that allowed us to get to settle in just that little bit more. Sometimes cruising is fast stops where you only brush the surface of a place and the people that you meet. Sometimes cruising is staying put, making friends and really getting to know a place like we did in Puerto Williams. This was something in between and it felt just like what we needed - warmer weather, a beautiful spot with lots to explore, friendly locals, interesting cruisers and a comfortable re-entry to tropical cruising.

Many thanks Saint Helena!

Note: As was the case in the Falklands, internet was very expensive, so it's been quite awhile since we did anything on social media other than quick Instagram posts shared to Facebook with a few pictures. We will try to find time to get the blog updated with pictures someday! Thank you for following along, posting comments (we do read them eventually!) and sticking with us even without picture heavy posts. Xx

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