Friday, March 05, 2010

March 7, 2010 - James Bay, St. Helena

We've spent much of this week working on projects on the boat, something we haven't done all that much of the past few months. I've been doing our taxes, laundry, and slowly plugging away at re-stitching the UV cover on the jib, which came loose on the run up to St. Helena from Cape Town. Meanwhile, Sten has done about a hundred other things. He's changed the oil in the generator, rebuilt the generator raw water pump, topped up the transmission fluid on the main engine, and topped up the fuel tanks from the jerry cans. He has also spent some time working on the dinghy outboard, to get it back in top form after 4 months of sitting on the back rail.

He also did a bit of sailwork on the mainsail, putting on some additional spreader patches and adjusting a batten. He's inspected our standing and running rigging to make sure there are no issues we should address before setting off on our next leg. As part of his inspection, I've hauled him up and down the mast twice (with the assistance of the windlass). The first time he was at the top of the mast he removed the anchor light, which had become very dim as one LED after another burned out. We didn't have the exact bulb we needed to replace it, so he jerry-rigged something that should get us back to the Caribbean.

Lastly, but certainly not least, he has spent quite a bit of time working on our grill - clearly an essential piece of equipment! He came up with a very creative, and somewhat horrifying, solution to a faulty regulator control. If we go up in a ball of flame cooking up a ribeye one night, this (and the two 20lb bottles of propane we carry) will likely be the culprit.

Pretty sure this violates the warranty.

We haven't been entirely boat-bound this week. We try to get ashore at least once a day to stretch our legs. With no protected place to leave the dinghy, we are dependent upon the local ferry service to run us in to the dock and back again. The service is only 1.20 Pounds per person round trip before 7pm. But after 7, the price jumps to 10 Pounds, which puts quite a damper on having dinner out or drinks ashore. While the RMS St. Helena was in port the crew boat ran until Midnight each night and they were happy to bring us back out to the yachts. So we took advantage of that and had a night on the town. After drinks at the hotel bar, which was a great place to meet people, we had dinner at Ann's Place, a casual restaurant that is the yachty hangout. It was fun flipping through her guest books and seeing what friends who have passed this way had to say. And the beef curry wasn't bad either!

Jamestown is a compact little town, studded with Georgian homes and businesses. The streets run up the volcanic valley at a gentle incline. The first time we walked up to the end of Main Street, every other person we passed called out "You alright?" I was thinking "Jesus, do we look that out of shape?" And then it dawned on me that "You alright?" is the local greeting. And unlike "How are you," which can be answered with a blunt "Fine," "You alright" invites conversation. It could only be the common greeting in a society where people still have time to stop and chat. And it perfectly suits an island where there are no ATMs, cellphones or airports.

A big bird in Castle Gardens, in front of Ann's Place

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