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More Cruising Information for Ascension Island - March 2016

By SY Yindee Plus — last modified Mar 23, 2016 03:34 PM

Published: 2016-03-23 00:00:00
Countries: Ascension Island

More Cruising Information for Ascension Island - March 2016

Landing Steps

The Bright family on their cutter-rigged sloop Yindee Plus began their "extended cruising" from the UK in 2008. Their blog has lots of interesting reports and twin sons Sid and Wilf have their own blogs also. They have contributed regularly to noonsite, just put "Yindee Plus" into search to read their reports - http://www.yindeeplus.net/Yindee_Plus/Welcome.html

Advance Permit

We followed the procedures to the letter and applied for our Ascension Island Government (AIG) permits a month in advance, before we left Cape Town. We didn't realise that the arrival and departure dates on the forms are fixed; they aren't approximates.

The AIG allows you to arrive up to 72 hours after the arrival date on your permit and leave up to 72 hours afterwards.  Of course, because we were travelling by yacht and we stayed longer in St. Helena than we had anticipated, we actually arrived in Ascension Island after the expiry of our permits! It wasn't a big problem, but we had to apply for new ones and wait a few hours for them to be approved before we could complete the clearance procedures. They kindly waived the fees for the second permits, as they did for other yachts, but technically they are able to collect these.

So, it might be best to apply for the permits before you leave St. Helena, when you will have a much better idea of your itinerary. You can see most things in Ascension in two days, but a permit for a week or more gives the chance to stay longer if, like us, you really like the island.

Anchorage

We anchored well away from the floating fuel boom (unlit), but it moves around a lot with the wind and current and we found ourselves much too close to it one night in position 07°55'.166 S  014°24'.751 W. The boom has vertical metal posts intermittently along its length, which could do damage to a hull / hull window in rough sea conditions.

Yachting Facilities

Apart from the metered water tap on the pierhead, there is now a facility with toilet (including toilet paper), shower, washing machine and laundry sink. Water is metered for the sink and shower (£1 for 20 minutes). The coin operated washing machine is a brand new domestic one which costs £1 a load. It takes three hours to do a 60°C cycle, but you can safely leave it there and come back later for your very clean clothes.

The AIG Stores near the pierhead acts as a large hardware store and has all sorts of useful items in it. Our engine start battery failed while we were here and it was easy to buy a new one (sold at the  fuel station too and cheaper (£71) than the AIG stores).

There's a large book swap outside the museum.

We arrived just before the RMS St. Helena came in, i.e. at minimum fresh fruit and veg time, but even so could buy apples, grapes, carrots, beetroot, potatoes and onions. The store in Georgetown also has an adequate supply of tins, jars and frozen veg / fruit.

Car hire

This seems to be much easier than in St. Helena. New cars are available at the Obsidian hotel, but we opted to rent a cheaper one from the Solomans Fuel station (tel: 66241) in One Boat (£18/day); the car got us around just fine even though it was a bit old and worn out.

We tried using the public phone box outside the AIG stores, but couldn't get it to work so Cindy at the police station kindly made the booking for us. Solomans will come to collect you from the pierhead.

You can easily drive every road on the island in one day. We had the car for two days and managed to 'do' the whole place including 4 Letterbox hikes, a swim and lunch at Two Boats Club, an evening snack at the Volcano Club at the US base, and a visit to the cinema at the NAAFI. There's lots of interesting geology here.

You don't need a car for two of the hikes: Up Cross Hill and the walk along the beach in front of the anchorage. You can also walk to the interesting small museum and fort (open on Saturday mornings 10 – 12pm and Monday evenings) and the turtle egg-laying or hatching tours with the conservation department are all on foot from Georgetown.

Eating Out

We can recommend the Two Boats Club terrace for lunchtime meals (12 – 2pm). There's a nice breeze which keeps it cool there (Georgetown is very hot). Not alot of choice on the menu; mostly of the burger and chips or sausage and chips variety, but well priced and friendly. You can buy wifi access here too with same rates as the Obsidian Hotel.

We went to the USA Volcano Club, which is the only option for an evening meal out, apart from the expensive Obsidian Hotel. The food was the type you find in a low quality burger chain in the USA, but the experience was interesting to us anyway.

Things to Do

We really enjoyed doing several of the Letterbox hikes. Favourite one was Elliots Pass on Green Mountain which was muddy, but worth it for the amazing views. Take a torch for the tunnels if you do that one. Look out for wild Raspberries growing on Green Mountain.

We booked on a turtle egg-laying tour (Jan – March) with the conservation office in Georgetown. It was a really special experience and only cost £5 per person. Our guides were interns based here and knew a lot about the turtles, which was good as we were able to view a turtle laying eggs without causing any disruption to the process. Turtle hatchings start at the end of March.

It was great to see the BBC World Service relay station and the Ariane European Space Agency station, plus the RAF and USAF bases. These places crop up in the news from time to time and it's interesting to be able to visualise what they look like.

There's a proper 42 seat cinema at the RAF base on Travellers Hill, in the NAAFI building.

Susan Bright
SY Yindee Plus

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