South Atlantic, St. Helena: Four Months in a Friendly, Welcoming Community

Cas van Niekek and his wife spent nearly four months anchored at St. Helena in the South Atlantic and enjoyed being a part of a friendly, welcoming community where everyone shares and looks out for each other.

Published 4 weeks ago

Friendly St. Helena

We have been anchored at St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic for four months, from February to June 2024, and are now on our way to Brazil. The people on St. Helena are so friendly and will try to help with everything they can. Although it is a very poor community, the people are looking out for each other and share everything they get. Today I help you and tomorrow you help me.  It was very emotional saying farewell to some of the friends we made there.

Arriving at Saint Helena

Approaching Saint Helena, establish contact with Saint Helena Radio on VHF Channel 16 when about 30NM out. They will advise you to contact Port Control on VHF Channel 14 when 1NM out. The reason is that the mountain prevents further communication and the Port Captain uses a handheld radio with limited reach.

Anchoring and mooring

The mooring-field is still closed. Unfortunately there is no money available for the repairs, so no action has been taken.

Anchoring is between 15 to 25m deep in sand. The wind changes regularly and there is a constant swell from the north at Jamestown. As you sail around the island from the north-east, drop anchor as close to shore as possible before you get to the buoys of the local boats and just past the harbour wall of Rupperts valley. There is a spiderweb of ropes and mooring-lines where the local boats are tied to. Do not enter there. The current varies in direction and is about 1 knot in speed.

James Bay, Jamestown, St. Helena

Clearance procedures

Customs and immigration operate Monday to Friday from 08:30 till 16:00. You are not allowed to go ashore if arriving after hours or on weekends, unless arranged beforehand with the Port Captain.

Contact the Ferry service on VHF Channel 16 for pick up. The ferry service runs on the hour every hour from 04:00 until 18:00. Last drop-off at your boat is at 18:30. You can call Johnny (ferry owner) to arrange for a later drop-off if you want to go for dinner/event in town (but this does cost extra).

Cash only on the island. It is possible to withdraw pound sterling from the bank on the island, but a 5% levy is collected on any withdrawl.

[Editor’s Note: A pre-paid tourist card is also a good option – see Money for details]

Fishing permits

A fishing permit is required if you want to fish from your vessel ONLY! You are not allowed, by law, to take your tender and go fishing on your own. If you want to go fishing, you can get a fishing permit for free at the harbor office on the first floor. A fishing logbook must be completed for all fish species caught and you must measure and record the length, weight and total weight for each day’s fishing. Logbooks are usually available at the yacht club or enquire at the fisheries.

Try to hook up with one of the local fishermen and ask them to take you on one of their fishing runs.

Insurance

Medical evacuation insurance is still required and can be obtained from Solomons in town. It takes about 10 minutes to aquire. You can email Lisa at [email protected] for a quote and to get all documents ready for arrival. Lisa is an angel and very helpful.

Supplies

There is a very limited supply of fresh fruit and veggies available at the shops. Only frozen veggies are available and beef and lamb is almost unheard of in the shops. Local pork and frozen chicken is available.

Contact Solomons at the wharf for fuel. Diesel can be supplied in 25 liter plastic cans at £2.06 per liter. Petrol can also be supplied, but you need your own cans. There is a water tap at the jetty for fresh water. The water is highly chlorinated, but safe to drink. Supply your own containers to fill. Water is free.

Tours and Activities

In the main street on the way to town is a blue shop where Tracy can help with tours of the Island. Her dad, Colin, does the tours and is extremely helpful.  He has lived on the island his entire life and is a wealth of information.

Kenny (the ferry skipper) can also advise and help with the Whale Shark tours. His boss, Johnny, does the tours and is the best!!

Scuba-diving is excellent! Various operators on the Wharf can take you wreck and cave diving in crystal clear water. They have all the equipment available.

steep valley sides with a bay behind and on the valley floor a town in a narrow strip of land with red roofs
Jamestown, St. Helena

Repair services and facilities

There is a self-service laundry and shower room with washing machine at the yacht club. It is £5 per load and £1 per shower. The honesty box for your cash is in the laundry room. Contact Alex for the code for the lock. His number is +290 64445 for Whatsapp or calls.

Basic repairs are possible with very limited spare parts from Solomons. You can also take your boat out on the hard for about £75 all-included, in an emergency. Work done is a separate charge, but while labour is cheap paint is extremely expensive. Only dark red anti-fouling paint is available at £55 per liter, so it is advisable to bring your own paint with you if planning to do any work here.

St. Helena is a wonderful place with the most amazing people!

Cas van Niekerk
SV Stenella

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About the Author:

Cas van Nieker, his wife (both retired) and their two chow chow dogs are from Namibia and are heading to Brazil in South America.  They are new to the cruising life and started out from Walvis Bay, Namibia at the beginning of 2024.  Their sailboat is a 51ft steel ketch, SV Stenella.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Noonsite.com or World Cruising.

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