Day 16, 1 St. of July 2007 Sunday
Today I met with the governor. I woke up on the boat, made coffee, jumped off the back of the boat and took a sea bath while a soft rain fell, then went into town on the water taxi at about 8am. Mike from Saint FM lent me his car and I went up to the governor's house and interviewed him about the airport and conservation efforts on the island. He has these huge tortoises on his property and after a brief interview in his drawing room we went out, and he actually scratched them under their chins while I took photos. Sunday is a very quiet day in St Helena. Thank goodness the sun was out for the first time since I came here and I was able to take some landscapes. Me and the crew climbed Jacob's Ladder, a long ramp of 666 steps ( truly there is 674) up the side of the mountain and then went to the old WW2 batteries. It was amazing. We could even go inside them. The barracks and the bunkers were still there. The rusted guns sat silent vigil looking out over the vast expanse of the Atlantic stretching from horizon to horizon. The bad news of the day is that we seem to have hit something in the water on our way here and we have to raise the boat out of the water to check tomorrow, do any necessary repairs and clean the bottom of the boat. There is a lot of seaweed growing on the bottom, and we will get a lot of speed if we clean it off. This means we will be here a few more days. It is Sunday today, so we should probably be off by Wednesday or Thursday. Bernice and Mike from Saint FM invited us to a huge meal tonight so I am now in my bunk about to snooze after too much red wine, chicken, lamb and beef. People here in St Helena have been so good to us. That also why the guys are taking the boat out of the water tomorrow, it's the cheapest and best place, since the people take such pride in their work. It's a very strange place, insular and yet very outward looking. People are of many creeds, races and religions yet all seem to get along well. Of course like in any small town such as the one I grew up in, there must be undercurrents of unhappiness that the casual visitor will never understand in a short time here. By and large though people get on with their lives and exhibit a stoic sense of pride in their community that the rest of the world could learn a lot from.
Day 17, 2nd of July 2007 Monday
I am writing this from my bunk, now, 15 feet above the concrete pier where the boat is safely resting. We successfully raised the boat from the water with the help of many St Helena dockworkers and the assistance of Deon and Andre. I mostly took pictures and video. It looks easy from the images. It was not. Lifting a boat with a crane is maybe one of the most stressful things you can do with a million dollar yacht. Virtually anything can go wrong, and often does. This time it did not, but we are only halfway up this particular mountain. This is the biggest boat that they have ever lifted here, so it was new ground for everyone. Deon mentioned that he could not believe we lifted this thing in St Helena. There isn't even a real dock here, just a pier where the boat could not pull up right alongside, she had to lifted from about 15 feet away. Andre thinks we will get most of the repair work tomorrow and may have her back in the water by Thursday if we are lucky. I guess we will leave asap after that. We decided we probably wont stop in Ascension Island, it will take too much time and we need to make up some of what we have lost. It's a shame since we have some good contacts there to see sea turtles nesting. It's a small price to pay though. It was either raise the boat here or end the trip. I have become attached to this project very closely and last night, before the successful raising, the idea of ending the trip filled me with such sadness. I was surprised at the depth of my feeling for it. You never know how you will feel about something until there is a risk of it leaving. I hope putting her back in goes as smoothly. Tomorrow I am looking for one of the rarest birds on the planet. Its called a Wire Bird, and there is only 340 in the whole world and they all live on St Helena. I am going with Eddie, a local who works with the St Helena Wildlife trust. He can get right next to the birds, less than 3 feet away! I look forward to it. Maybe after that Dr. Cairnswicks might take me for a walk in the peaks area, the highest place on the mountain, if the weather holds.