Half way across the Atlantic, between South Africa and Brazil, is a little island called St. Helena. It’s a popular stop fo
r yachts doing a crossing (it is only accessible by boat). After 14 days at sea we could almost taste the beers and burgers waiting for us on land. We were beyond excited (and relieved) to arrive at our first international port.
Rufus was the only one who had visited the island 10 years before so the rest of us didn’t quite know what to expect. From the sea it definitely doesn’t look like your typical “island getaway”. There is an almost constant cap of cloud over the dull rock face that surrounds it and the (only) anchorage in James Bay is notorious for mooring issues and anchor trouble.
The first thing we did was take a FRESH WATER SHOWER!! After two weeks of only being able to wash in freezing salt water the shower (even though it was also cold – solar heating doesn’t work so well when there is so much cloud cover…) was heaven sent! Next stop was Anne’s place for a beer and a burger.
Anne’s Place is well known amongst yachties and the locals, especially around the time of the Governor’s Cup. It’s in a great spot and the décor is festive but if you are looking for good food, reasonable prices and friendly efficient service The Consulate Hotel/La Concorde deli is the place to go. This place became a regular haunt for us. Hazel, the owner and a fellow South African, was one of the kindest, friendliest and most generous people we met on the island.
We spent a week in St. Helena and we used the time to tour the Napoleonic sites, visited the oldest living tortoise on earth, learned about the island’s history at the local museum, explored the coastline’s Naval defence ruins and, of course climbed the 699 steps of Jacobs Ladder – a must for everyone who visits the island.
The locals are very friendly and the island is so safe that you can leave your shopping in one grocery store while you go about the rest of your business around town and then collect it again afterwards. The town itself is very quiet during the week and the “Saints”, as the locals call themselves, only really venture out on weekends, to socialise and dance the nights away at local bars & pubs, or when the RMS St. Helena visits the island with supplies from South Africa and tourists from the UK & S.A.
St. Helena was a great experience. We are all glad we got the chance to visit this extraordinary community, rich in history and hospitality. The friendly relaxed pace of this island’s life was just what we needed to rest up after a taxing two weeks at sea. We can’t wait to see how the business & tourism develops once the airport is completed in 2016.
First published on offtheline.co.za