APPROACHING ST HELENA
27 February 2012 | One hundred miles south of St Helena
ST HELENA Im now about 100 miles from St Helena and approaching from the south side. Right now, the wind is up to near 20 knots (first time in 2 weeks!) in roughish seas and Im going too fast - don't want to arrive in the night...so warps are out. I expect to round South West Point tomorrow morning, March 1st , in the early morning. Then its about 10 miles up the back side of the island to the "Anchorage" at Jamestown. And, speaking of anchoring, Im a little concerned with the situation there as the designated spot for anchoring is very deep...about 60 feet. Apparently, they had mooring balls but some failed so they have pulled them all. However, Im told by many of the cruisers before me that the 'holding' is very good - will have to trust that united opinion...but still don't like it. The saving grace is that with the prevailing SE wind, if the anchor did drag one would be pushed out to sea - apparently they have fetched a boat or two off the horizon in times past.
St Helena is indeed an island with history and color and, if it was not for that fact, I would continue on without stopping. Shearwater is doing well and, up until today, the weather has been wonderful. Today, we are being buffeted about as I write.
A few interesting details of this island: discovered in 1502 by the Portuguese who tried to keep this strategic point in the middle of the ocean a secret; lush vegetation and fruit trees were plentiful until the goats brought by the Portuguese finished them all off - bad goats!; one anchorage with the rest being towering rocky cliffs backed by green slopes climbing to Mt Acteon at 2683 ft.; the English couldn't tolerate this Portuguese settlement so in the mid 1600's they came and set up base via their English East India Company; the Dutch couldn't stand it either so they invaded in 1673 only to be foiled by Black Oliver, who led the English counterattack; In 1815 St Helena received its most famous visitor, none other than Napoleon (whom the English couldnt abide) ...exiled to the Island - about the only place they could put him to keep him out of trouble! He remained there with his mini-imperial court until his death in 1821; today the population is a mix of Portuguese, Dutch, English, Malay, Goanese, Madagascan, East Indian, African, Chinese, Boer, American whalers and perhaps "some of Napoleon's entourage!
Joshua Slocum, the first single-handed navigator, paid a call there in 1898.