To St. Helena 5

Our last day of the passage went by fairly quickly.  The kids did school and I have to eat my words about Marin struggling to write three sentences because today she wrote almost a full page with perfect handwriting and no complaints.  Once again, we have been able to tap into the talents of our crew and the girls got a dance lesson from Gemma. 

After school, Tully decided that everyone should have a water gun fight.  Cobin joined in and taught the girls how to conduct a duel with their water pistols.  After that got old, he decided just to throw buckets of water on them, which they not only tolerated but encouraged.

We had tacos for dinner, which wasn’t quite the same as a pig roast but we had the added benefit of seeing St. Helena around sunset, which more than made up for the lack of pork.  That, and we had bacon for lunch.  Joe called, “Land ho” in the late afternoon, long before I could make out anything on the horizon but a couple of hours later,  I could finally glimpse a land form in the distance that was distinct from the clouds. 

As usual, it took much longer to actually arrive at our destination after spotting it than it seems like it should have.  Land takes such a long time to get closer when you’re on a boat.  Eventually we were able to raise St. Helena Radio.  It was lucky we had Gemma on board because she was able to translate the lady’s British English for us.  Otherwise, poor Joe had to keep saying, “Could you please repeat” because we couldn’t figure out what she was saying. 

They told us to pick up a red mooring ball and that Customs and Immigration would visit us at 8 am in the morning.  Good news – it means we should be able to get off the boat before their regular office hours on Monday morning.

Once we arrived at the mooring field, it was completely dark with no moon so it was a bit of challenge to find the mooring balls.  Coco de Mer helpfully called us and told us where one was located and a few minutes later Gemma found it with our search light. 

Normally mooring balls have some sort of smaller ball on a line that allows you to pick them up with your boat hook and attach to them without having to climb down to the level of the water.  Not so this mooring ball.  It’s a giant buoy, obviously securely attached to the floor of the sea which is comforting.  But there was no way to reach the metal ring on top without climbing down one of the lines on the front of the boat.  Thankfully it’s the route we use to get back on the boat when we’re swimming so I was accustomed to being on it. 

Gemma was stretched out on the starboard bow, balancing the search light so we could see while holding onto the line we needed to pass through the mooring buoy so she could hand it to me when we got close enough.  I was standing on a cable about a foot off the water’s surface, yelling directions back to Joe so he could drive me within an arm’s length of the buoy.  I had to be extra loud to be heard over the sound of massive waves crashing on a beach about 40 feet away at the foot of this island which seems to be primarily made up of steep cliffs.  The process took about 10 – 15 minutes, with lots of minute adjustments as Joe had to contend with driving in the dark towards a destination he couldn’t see with interference from wind, waves, and inaccurate directions (“No – I meant forward and port, not reverse and starboard”).

We managed to get Charm attached to the buoy, then Joe came up and looked at it and we spent another 10 minutes rearranging the lines in a way that wouldn’t chafe anything or bang against the hulls.

Gemma, Joe and I had just walked inside when a friendly rainstorm greeted us.  It was perfectly timed as Charm needed a good fresh water rinse and none of us did.

It’s quite rolly here in the mooring field so I’m guessing we won’t be spending much time on Charm if it stays like this.  It looks like it’s a bit of a hike (literally straight up) to get into town so we will see how our visit progresses. 

We continue to be grateful to Gemma for doing the crossing with us and to her family for letting her join us on this adventure.  She is a lovely companion and is always ready to help in any way – approaching ballet classes, sail changes, cooking, night watches, mending, reading, card games, karaoke and everything else with equal enthusiasm.

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