During the summer months of December to March, St Helena is visited by some of the most interesting and adventurous travellers, and we’re not talking about the whale sharks! Yachting season arrives with a plethora of races, rallies and leisure sailors each year, and this year has been no different.
The World Arc Rally
In January, St Helena was once again a stop along the World Arc Rally, a voyage starting from either Saint Lucia or Australia and travelling through to Brazil. The participants include families with children, retirees and sailing enthusiasts. This year’s participants began mooring in James Bay from 16 January, with some showing up later in the month. All stayed for the required three days, but many enjoyed the island and decided it was worth extending their visit that extra couple of days. All participants were offered a complimentary island tour and spent the rest of their time climbing Jacob’s Ladder, visiting the Museum, taking part in the Island’s Post Box walks, and, a highlight for many visitors, swimming with the adult whale sharks in James Bay.
We spoke to a few of the participating yachts’ crew members about their favourite experiences.
“The trip to the island was fantastic with steady winds, sunshine, not a lot of waves; it was such an easy ride. We had dolphins coming in that stayed with us for three hours, this is very unusual as you only see them for half an hour, so it was great to have them for such a long period. We had flying fish landing on the deck, and even an octopus.
We went on the island tour and we absolutely loved all the different areas and the incredibly diverse nature. The environment is so lush and beautiful on St Helena; and it’s such a small place with so many different environments. We also enjoyed Longwood House and Napoleon’s Tomb, and our driver took us up to Flagstaff to show us the amazing views.
Our favourite experience was the whale sharks because they can be seen so clearly here and that is absolutely incredible. We had to do Jacob’s Ladder because everyone else on the World Arc has done it. We extended our three day trip to nine days because there is just so much to see and do. We would love to come back as it feels so safe and so friendly here.”
Into the Blue
“St Helena is amazing, beautiful, very friendly, and as soon as we arrived we felt very welcome. The landscape is absolutely incredible and unique, there’s loads to do, whether walking, swimming with the whale shark, diving, climbing the Ladder, relaxing or bird watching. It is also very peaceful.
There is lots of culture, heritage and history. The Museum is fantastic, absolutely amazing, and I could have spent hours in there. It was really interesting, and for a small island it has such an amazing history, and an amazing museum and amazing people.
We absolutely enjoyed the whale sharks, it was an incredible experience on our last day and residents of St Helena are so lucky to be able to do that every year.
There has been so much more here than we ever expected and it has been lovely each day. Everything we did just blew us away. We did Diana’s Peak and that is just unbelievably beautiful.
This was our first trip to the island, but we would like to come back if we could; and would tell other people to come and experience how unique it is. We feel very lucky to have come here and experienced it.”
“It is such a wonderful island. You spend so many days at sea, and then you see her, and you think it’s all rock but when you come closer you see the vegetation, and James Bay and Jacob’s Ladder surrounded by beautiful clear water.
Everyone on the island has been so helpful and nice, and we couldn’t wait to get out of Jamestown and see the rest of the island. We were so excited about the whale sharks, as we haven’t been swimming with anything that big. We were excited about the history of the island, and there is just so much to see. It looks so small, but it’s amazing how much time you would need to see everything the island has to offer.”
Another yachting visitor during January was the Sørlandet, a Norwegian heritage vessel and the world’s oldest fully rigged ship in operation. She anchored in James Bay on 26 January, with 50 students from 20 different countries, and departed 29 January. During their short stay, those onboard hiked to Diana’s Peak and took island tours.
We will be visited once again by the Class Afloat from 7 to 10 March 2017. The Class Afloat last visited the island in February 2016, and those on-board enjoyed three days of hiking to the highest peak, swimming with whale sharks and taking island tours.