Friday, February 22, 2013

Ann called around noon MST.  They are 800 miles from the coast of Brazil.  Skies are sunny.  All is well. Location posted below.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ann called 5 PM her time.  They are progressing well as you can see by the map.  The sailing has been going well.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

We left St. Helena yesterday just before noon. We really enjoyed ourselves there, we are glad we had a chance to see it before the airport went in. There is something special about going to a place that is only accessible by sea. The winds were fluky when we left, we were in the lee of the island for about 3 hours.  We have light winds but are able to fly the spinnaker so we are making over 4 knots most of the time. We saw the big dipper very clearly last night, that is the first time in a long while.  The skies were so cloudy on our way from Namibia to St. Helena that we were never able to pick it out.  There was no moon at all so it made for a dark night and the big dipper was a welcome companion in the wee hours.
Feb 14.  Happy Valentines Day to all you sweethearts out there.  Barry managed to smuggle a package of mini-chocolate bars onboard and a necklace made from St. Helena clay onboard to mark the occasion, what a sweetie. He got a package of pistachios that I have been hoarding for a special day.  We are experiencing super trade wind sailing and are making really good time.  The sliver of a new moon made a welcome appearance last night.  We are in radio contact with four other boats daily, it is great to exchange news with others in the same situation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ann called at 9 PM her time.  They are at 17 degrees 10' S , 10 degrees 47' W, see map below. You can click on map to make it larger
They have about 1000 NM to their destination.
Weather was similar to crossing from Galapagos to Marquesas Island.  Almost perfect sailing conditions.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Me, struggling up the last bit of the stairs, 15 minutes into the climb!                                       

We climbed up Jacob’s Ladder, it was quite the heart racing climb.  Barry continued to ascend fairly steadily, although he did stop to rest and I was close enough to talk to him until just past the middle.  Then I had to stop longer and more regularly than he did and he was 3 minutes ahead of me at the end.  We walked about 2/3 of the way down the steps and then hiked along the ridge and down into town.  My legs were quivering for awhile afterwards.  We visited the museum and learned more of the fascinating history of the island.  St. Helena played a role when the British were attempting to stop the slave trade between Africa/Brazil and the Caribbean. When the slave ships were captured they were brought here and the slaves were freed here.  The island population’s demographics are a testament to that with a great mixing of the races.  The white British sailors and soldiers, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Boers, the Malays and the Africans all mixed and matched here and the people are a wonderful light brown, and when the locals are talking to each other one really has to listen to catch what they are saying, their accents are so broad. 
Tagish arrived from Namibia so we arranged to do one last hike with them before we parted ways.  We are heading to southern Brazil and they are off to Ascension and then the Barbados.  We hiked the highest point on the island, Diana’s Peak. Most of the hike was on an old road through the flax fields. Flax was brought in from New Zealand and was a viable industry here from the 1930’s to the 1960’s when cotton and nylon killed the market. The climate is totally different at sea level in town from the our hiking route.  In town it is hot and dry while up above the clouds roll up from the sea on the windward side of the island and it is damp and cool.  We all really enjoyed our time up in the clouds.  
We had a great dive on the steamship Papanui that sunk just off shore in the harbour.  It was using coal for fuel and when it left a fire was discovered in one of the bunkers, they managed to sail back into Jamestown and beached the boat.  They got all the passengers off and awhile later she sunk.  It is over 100 meters long and it was great fun, swimming around the pieces that were left on the bottom.  There were lots of small fish and we saw 4 or 5 good sized crayfish.  There tentacles were monstrous, they would have been great for supper. 
We are off in a few hours, just going ashore this morning to check out and stock up on essentials such as mild, bread and chocolate!!  If I can hook up to the internet via our ham radio I will send reports, if not I have promised to phone every three days so you can monitor our progress. My brother who is vacationing in Arizona has said he will keep up the blog for me. 

Note the height, 823m and that is very close to sea level
The lichen was awesome on this tree

The flax along the old road

Friday, February 08, 2013

Members of the British Empire, preparing to defend Napoleon's home!

Our education on St. Helena continued with a tour of Napoleon’s homes and his tomb.  When he first arrived on the island with his entourage of 28 he was shown his proposed accommodations.  I guess they weren’t to his liking, it was a converted barn in much need of renovations.  On his way back to town he glimpsed a house and requested to be allowed to see it.  The owner graciously offered the front room to him, while his permanent residence was being fixed. 
Napoleon's first home on the island
 The first house where he lived for 6 months is situated overlooking the harbour with gardens surrounding it. We were shown the front room and told that he lived there with one general interacting with the family that owned the property and lived in a nearby home. He also had a tent that was erected on the front lawn so he could rest there in the shade.  
 This is supposed a kneeling chair. 

Isn't this a beautiful piece of furniture

The home where he lived for 7 years until his death, from stomach cancer, is located up in the hills.  It has lots of pictures and paintings from the era and the tour guides were filled with stories.  
Napoleon's residence from 7 years

He apparently loved his bath and was known to take meals, dictate correspondence and read for hours in it.  It is very deep and he had to have a step in order to get in.  

Apparently the house was very moldy and damp and rats were common.  Arsenic was put out to keep the rats down and it would get in the walls and apparently the English did not really try to poison him, it was just in the air in his home!!!

 His bed is very short but this was the style of the day, you didn’t lay flat but were propped up in it.  
We headed off to see his tomb.  When he was buried the English and the French could not agree what to put on his tomb, the English wanted General, but the French insisted on Emperor, the English wanted Napoleon Bonaparte, the French wanted just Napoleon so nothing was put.  We walked about 400 meters down a grassy lane to the spot were he was buried.  

It was  idyllic vale, with bougainvillea blooming and lush foliage all around the tomb.  There was a 24 hour guard posted after his death so that his bones would not be disturbed.   25 years after he landed on the island his remains were disinterred and repatriated to France. 
While he  was alive the English took great pains to make sure he did not escape.  There were 2 war ships in constant motion around the island.  The army presence was increased from 600 soldiers to 2000 and a guard was posted around his home at all times. No ship was allowed to leave the harbour until it was insured that Napoleon was  in his house and the Governor gave the go ahead.
At the end of the tour we stopped at the top of Jacob’s Ladder.  It offered great views of the town and the anchorage.
It is a long long way down, great view though!

 We plan to walk up the ladder in about an hour. Yesterday we participated in the melee that takes place every Thursday morning to get fresh fruit and vegetables.  The only fruit we got were bananas but I did buy some guava jelly, that should keep the scurvy away! The market was supposed to open at   0900, by 0910 there was a crowd edging forwards to be the first to get the best choice of the produce.  We got some very nice lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots and a few beets, all locally grown which was very nice.  We have booked a dive for Sunday morning and will be leaving for Brazil on Monday morning after we check out. 
Just hanging about around the back of a building
Proof that we saw albatrosses
What a gorgeous site to see from the deck of Cat's-Paw IV

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

View from the east coast of St. Helena

We went on a mission yesterday, to find an endangered bird on St. Helena, the wirebird.  When we met our guide in town a local came up as we were leaving and asked us if we had our insurance paid up.  He wasn’t kidding, Eddie was a maniac on the road, wheeling the Land Rover around the blind  twisting corners like a madman.
We went on a mission yesterday, to find an endangered bird on St. Helena, the wirebird.  When we met our guide in town a local came up as we were leaving and asked us if we had our insurance paid up.  He wasn’t kidding, Eddie was a maniac on the road, wheeling the Land Rover around the blind  twisting corners like a madman.
Boer cemetery, Boer's prisoners were brought here by the English 
It was quite the ride, bumping and thumping over the undulating terrain, Barry had to hop out and open all the gates so we could have access to some of Eddie’s favourite spots and to the wirebird habitat. The wild rugged scenery of this remote island  in the South Atlantic is breathtaking. We walked to the edge of a cliff and gazed down a vertical drop to the water where you can spot manta rays at certain times of the year.  A lot of the endemic ground cover has been eaten by the cattle and sheep that are on the island and erosion has created some unusual vistas, the earth in places is bright red and then where the erosion has occurred , the earth looks bluish gray. 

Eddie works for the National Trust on the island, they are in the process of getting rid of the introduced plants, brought by well meaning English settlers and replacing them with endemic plants.  We had a tour of the nursery where they are growing these plants and then went out to the area where they are planting the millennium forest.  We spotted the elusive wirebird, it is so well camouflaged that if the bird is not moving it is virtually can’t be spotted by the untrained eye.  Thankfully though it runs about on the ground hunting for beetles and worms,  It can really move on it’s spindly little legs. 
 Katrina from Sea Level spotted one form the car and we stopped and walked back to see if we could spot it’s nest.  I almost stepped on it!!  It was one that had not been noticed before and Eddie got out his notebook and his GPS to record it’s location and gave credit to “the yachtie girls” for the find.  We cruised across another field and came across parents with a  young chick.  
Wirebird chick
The chick just freezes on the ground while the parents try and lead you away.  Eddie showed us how he would pick up the chick and band it.  Apparently the recovery program is working and the wirebird population is growing every year. 
View from the cliffs
Eddie was born and raised on the island so it was interesting to here his view points and stories about growing up on St. Helena.  At the moment the only access to this island is by boat,  but there is an airport that is being built.  I wonder how the influx of tourism that will come with the planes will affect this gem of a community.  
View of the Jamestown Harbour
Donkeys used to be beasts of burden on the island
Scenes from the Namibian Desert

Dune just out of town

Flamigos hanging out in Walvis Bay

Wild ostriches in the desert

Climbed my first dune

Desert canyon

I just love this picture, don't you think it looks like someone's knees

Desert moonshine

Our car on top of the hill

Monday, February 04, 2013

We are safe and sound in St. Helena.  We made the 1222nm journey in 8 1/2 days.  It was a good passage, we hit the trade winds about 65 miles from the coast and rode them all the way here.  We broke a snatch block, it  was old and worn out and metal fatigue set in and bang it broke.  The "bangs" when you are on  passage are always very scary and we are really happy that it was only an old snatch block and there was no     collateral damage.  The other victim was Barry's new Kindle, he put it down then got up and turned around to adjust the self steering, then he sat down again and you guessed it, right on his Kindle.  He heard a crack and something broke, it won't turn off and the screen is all scrougy, meanwhile I and my low tech book that has bent pages and some sea water on it are still having a meaningful relationship. P.S. Barry would like me to add that Kindles aren't made for asses like him!
Pics and better update later.
Hello, Ann's daughter Trish here.

Ann and Barry checked in by phone last night.  They are close to their destination, St. Helena, and hoped to arrive today.  They have not had luck sending messages by radio so if you have emailed them and not heard back, no worries they are still safe and sound and sailing the ocean blue.