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Day 12, June 27, 2007 11:34 pm
Squalls, mild wind from the southeast to south. Its Channel Day today. The night before hitting landfall. I suppose it comes from the old English navy expression, marking the night before getting to Portsmouth after entering the English Channel. We are far from Portsmouth, and heading instead for a tiny little rock in the Atlantic, deemed far enough in the middle of nowhere to be the perfect place to exile one of the most respected and feared men in Europe. Even there, though, someone saw fit to poison Napoleon with arsenic. I am looking forward to being there. We have gotten so used to being here, living in these few square meters, that to be on solid ground with a whole island to explore sounds like paradise. The people of St Helena are called saints, more proof that I will not be the most welcome person there. I guess I will be watching what I eat. Hopefully our weather will improve for the leg to Fernando, but we aren’t going to hold our breath! Moral is good and the guys are sitting on the back of the boat under the rain tarp chatting about islands, what it will take to buy one or own one or just have a little spot on one. I like islands, and ever since reading David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, a book about the nature of biodiversity, I like them even more. They are the creators of the odd, the gargantuan, the colorful. I wonder what that means for the people who live on them, could we say the same of the people who inhabit these far-flung places? I guess we will see. The hospitality of the Saints is legendary, and already Mike, from the local radio station, is coming down to the boat when we get in to welcome us. Winter still has us in its icy grip, even this far into the tropics. A huge storm has blown up from Cape Town with 75 mile an hour winds. Hope we get to St Helena before it hits us!
Day 13, Thursday June 27, 2007 11:34 pm (same time as last night)
Landfall. St Helena sits off the starboard beam. Mike Olsson, from the newspaper here, invited me to the dock for a chat. It was amazing to stand on dry land. It kept moving. There is no place to dock here. We are laying anchor in the bay, using the zodiac to go ashore. To do this we take a leap from the little rubber boat, grab hold of a line hanging from a pole and pull ourselves onto the stone pier. The ropes hang in a line like a hangman’s nooses. There are about 10 f them there, hanging. That is the only way on or off the island. No beaches, no docks, just step over the gunwale of the boat and onto the dock, with a rope in your hand. It makes this island seem like another ship in the sea. It is certainly all alone out here. It rises from 4000 meters of sea depth within only a couple of kilometers and is surrounded by shear cliffs. There aren’t even any stone beaches because if this steep rise. Mike and his wife are very friendly, very open, and have invited me around in the morning to visit and offered to assist in getting around. That would be great. There are cars here, and from our position in the bay we can see strait up the famous 666 steps of Jacob's ladder. Its a strait stairway up the hillside with a line of lights. I think there are more lights on the ladder that in the whole town put together. It really feels like the bottom of nowhere here. It’s a good feeling. I like it already and I haven’t even seen it in daylight! No watches tonight, just relaxing and sleeping. What a pleasure. Have a big day tomorrow. I finished the third edit of images and video. I hope I can upload it here! It’s a large one, but after watching I thought it was more negative than positive, which disturbs me a bit since we also had our fun too…though when I think about the last week and a half have been pretty hard. So I suppose they reflect reality. But sometimes adventures are hard, and those hard times make the good times stand out and be appreciated. Like any good exercise, no pain no gain. Sitting here in the harbor it feels like I have gained a lot on this trip already.