Feb 22 - Safe arrival St. Helena

Pos: S15deg55.495min / W005deg43.516min. This last night was a rocky-rolly one as we put in a third reef in the main to keep our speed slow to plan arrival to St Helena in the daylight. Some other boats we know had arrived at night, but I wanted to see the island in the early morning and imagine what Napoleon and his entourage might have felt upon first seeing their place of incarceration. It worked out well; at sunrise (0611 UTC), we could just see the outline of the island, and were still 15 miles from our outside waypoint. When we were 10 miles out, I called St Helena Radio on VHF 16, and they instructed me to call back when we were 2 miles from the yacht anchorage. There are yellow and red mooring balls in James Bay now; the red ones are for vessels over 20 tons. They are a new issue, the powers to be apparently having decided that support of visiting yachts is a good thing, and that the difficult chore of anchoring in 60 feet of water with a rocky bottom wasn't conducive to tourism and people wanting to come visit and stay a bit here. The really good news is that we finally caught some fish, just outside the island; a nice dolphin fish, and a 4 foot wahoo. The last time we caught fish was in Chagos, and that was by dinghy! At any rate, the wahoo was on the deck and Port Control called and told us to get ready to go in to Immigration and Customs by water taxi. So much for relaxing a bit. Everyone was very accommodating, and the paperwork went smoothly; fees were put off until tomorrow, Monday, when the bank will be open to obtain British pounds, and we were requested to return to their office for payment. The water taxi is a good idea around here. The swell near the landing area is terrible even on a calm day, and landing by dinghy is just dangerous. As it is, you jump from the small water taxi onto a concrete pier, grabbing a knotted rope hanging down from a cross beam; not for the non-athletic or faint of heart. I've concluded it's been a somewhat demolition derby for yachties getting here. We know of two boats whose engines have packed it in; one boat is getting shipped back to South Africa, the other boat is going forward to the Caribbean without an engine. Another yacht had engine troubles, but sorted it all out and blamed dirty fuel as the culprit. Two boats we know of blew their spinnakers and another lost its spinnaker halyard. One yacht had its watermaker motor burn out, another its refrigerator compressor pack it in. One had a rigging failure; we're unsure of the details. And these are just a few of the yachts we know or have heard about....At any rate, we're happy to report that our damage report aboard Infini was quite minor; one block developed a crack in its stainless bale from crevice corrosion; it's already been replaced this afternoon. So...this has been a nice 1215 mile, 10 day passage; a bit slower than we would have liked, but we had no major gear problems and there were lots of sail changes, wind shifts, and reaching pole usage. We're really excited to be able to, once again, explore a tiny island (8.5 X 5 miles) with so much history.

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