18 Apr 2018

18 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty: St Helena

It was another morning when I was up early as we were due to arrive at St Helena & there was always the chance of Seabirds, Cetaceans & other goodies on our final approach to the island. All the islands we visited were volcanic in origin & had steep sides below the waterline. As such there is only a narrow coastal strip around each of the islands before the deep water commenced. This resulted in an abundance of food close to the islands & hence plenty of wildlife. So, it was always worth being up early to be looking from first light when arriving at a new island.
St Helena in the distance with an atmospheric sky: Just like Gough Island we traded blue skies at sea for cloudy skies
St Helena: Looking to the rocky islands on the South West coast
St Helena map
The first view of Jamestown
St Helena has a number of steep valleys
A close up of the white building in the valley bottom: This looks like a barrack block behind a protective wall left over from the Napoleonic era
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: We saw several parties along the coastline, but unfortunately none were close. Still they put on a good welcome display
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: They are quite a dark Dolphin with a fairly long beak, a dark upper body at the front & a paler strip below
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: The dark upper body curves down on the side of the body
Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: The dark upper body finally curves up & ends behind the narrow, sharply curved dorsal fin
St Helena is a largely flat island with deep valleys including the Jamestown valley
Jamestown sits in a deep valley
Napoleonic gun emplacements protecting Jamestown: The RMS St Helena was the much loved passenger & supply ship for the island. With the airfield recently opened on St Helena, the UK government has cut the ship service & the locals are sad that the RMS St Helena left for the last time in Feb 18. This was the UK government's plan to cut the costs of replacing the RMS St Helena with a cargo only ship. Visitor are now expected to arrive & depart on the weekly plane service from Windhoek, Namibia. All sounding a great idea, but as four of our passengers found out the hard way, flights into St Helena can be cancelled due to strong winds & large planes cannot land full stop. But to be fair to the UK's Tory government, they weren't to know about the problems of these strong winds as the problem had only been known about since Charles Darwin detailed it on his Beagle voyage when he visited in 1836. Darwin wouldn't have written it up for several years after his visit. I doubt the consultants who would have been paid a lot to develop the airfield would have highlighted it, if it reduced the money they would make on the consultation
Another building by Jamestown
Looking to the right of Jamestown
This was a damp vegetated edge of cliff compared to the rest of the cliffs: Looks like a stream must run down here
Some of the quay buildings
The main quay office
Jamestown has kept its old quaint look
Our first Saints: We were not allowed ashore until the ship had cleared customs & had approval from a few other officials
We also had to have all the passports stamped for our visit
Having got our clearance, Hans from the expedition staff heads ashore to check the landing
Leon followed soon afterwards
We were finally ready to head ashore by mid morning. There were a variety of trips laid on for us to sign up for, along with a free morning historical trip on the second or third mornings depending on which group we were in. However, they didn't begin until after lunch so we had a few hours to run ashore & have a general look around.