Living The Dream - Or Not.
20 September 2022
It was another wild ride from Luderitz out to the speck in the ocean that is St Helena. Other than the other speck to the north, it's sister island Ascension, or the speck to the south, Tristan de Cunha, the nearest proper land is over a thousand miles away. Leaving in mid winter wasn't the greatest passage plan. However, we did get here quite fast.
As per Murphy's Law, we arrived in the dark, the first sighting being the red lights on the control tour of the island's new, three hundred million pounds plus airport.
Just a quick tack on the subject of the airport - after the contractors dug up half a mountain to create a level runway long enough to take your average tourist plane, tarred it, painted all the white lines, put in the lights and built the terminal buildings did they discover that it's actually quite windy on St Helena. Not much gets past these engineer types but on the St Helena project I think maybe the windiest it got was in the air conditioned offices of the consultants in London.
On land, in real life it turned out to be so windy that in fact the planned weekly arrival of three hundred excited, wealthy tourists bringing much needed cash to the island, onboard the likes of Boeing 737s had to scrapped. The blustery winds make approach and landing something of a challenge to pilots, passengers' nerves and insurance companies. The plane about to go into operation is the ninety eight seater Embraer which some readers may have squeezed into at some point in their commuting life. One third as many tourists as originally planned. There goes the business plan! No doubt those in charge will be arranging a refund to HMRC.
Anyway, back onboard Time Bandit, we sneaked under the cliffs at the airport, heading for the island's main conurbation on the north side of the island. Following our noses we found the cleft in the cliffs that is the entrance, marked with flashing red and greens. Cautiously we started our entry, rising and falling as we motored in the Atlantic swell through the narrow channel, volcanic cliffs on either side towering into the dark sky. To our amazement, after about two hundred metres, the channel opened into the mill pond calm caldera of a now defunct volcano with Jamestown, the islandâs capital nestling at the foot of the steep volcanic walls. We tied up to the new marina pontoons as dawn broke and within minutes were tucked up under the duvet snoozing in the luxury of the silence and flat calm of the early morning.
WAIT A MINUTE!!!!
That was last night's dream. There is no caldera. There is no mill pond calm. There are no pontoons. There is no sleep. Not a flippinâ wink.
There are however moorings. Laid on trots off the harbour wall, to all intents, right out in the middle of the South Atlantic, I mean, a whale swam past us this afternoon. The sturdy moorings come complete with katabatic winds blasting down the cliffs while the ocean swell induces a gunwhale to gunwhale roll or teeth jarring jerks for monohulls and catamarans respectively.
Not that I'm one to complain.
And so, tonight, we've lashed ourselves fore and aft with twenty metres of old rope extravagantly using two moorings to keep us nose into the swell.
Let's just hope no one else arrives in the dark and yachts themselves into our spiders web. That will disturb my beauty sleep.