On Christmas Eve, the annual Island convoy of revellers tours St Helena, visiting various care facilities and homes to hand out festive treats, blasting out Country Christmas songs as they go. At the top of Jamestown, floats and costumed performers join up for a parade into Jamestown. This is an annual event organised by a group of volunteers. thank you to Simon Pipe of We Love St Helena
It was only a few weeks ago many supporters, friends and family gathered at the landing steps in Jamestown St Helena to wave farewell to the crew of the yacht Carpe Diem who was about to set sail on a 1700-mile journey to Cape town to prepare for 2018 Cape to St Helena yacht race. This a was journey that had been carefully planned with the help and contribution by many local St Helena people and Island organisations.
The Cape to St Helena yacht race which was formally known as the Governor’s cup race was invented by a former Captain, Dave Roberts of the RMS St Helena, along with the help of then Governor David Smallman and the Royal Cape Yacht Club which resulted in the very first governor’s cup race been invented on the 8th of December 1996 starting at table bay in Cape town.
After the first race which was proven to be a great success a team from St Helena was invited to part take in this exciting scheduled event and the 2018 race was no different.
This year Carpe Diem a Bavaria 38-foot boat owned by St Helenian born James Herne was entered into the 2018 Cape to St Helena race but this was not an easy challenge for James as his boat was moored in St Helena after he and his wife Hannah and their 3 kids had recently returned home to settle in St Helena after circumnavigating around the world.
James an experienced skipper with 75000 nautical miles under his belt, and now the commodore of the St Helena Yacht club James was keen to compete in the race and was offering up the opportunity for a St Helena crew to share his passion to be part of this event.
After weeks of planning and making sure that all the logistics were in place James was ready to sail his 38-foot Carpe Diem back to Cape town in readiness for the race.
The challenge to get Carpe Diem into race mode was not straight forward, the training and recruiting of a St Helena crew began and the planning began and in typical St Helena fashion, the support of the local St Helena community behind him was helping to fund raise for the event with every one making sure this was another success.
Finally, James and his son Josh and three selected St Helena crew members, Andrew Turner, Michael Owen, Dennis Owen got underway and team Carpe Diem departed Jamestown harbour.
As the journey progress, local media reported “The journey was progressing well despite experiencing some calm weather on route and having to motor for a few hours the crew on board was doing amazing and in very high spirits.
A YouTube video shot during the trip showed the crew enjoying their time on board and some of them also managed to swim during the calm period along with some great onboard home cooking.
Social media messages flooded the internet with well wishes and support for team Carpe Diem, despite been a little behind schedule the St Helena yacht club finally confirmed that team Carpe Diem had arrived safely in Cape Town at 5.15 am on December 18th.
Shortly after the arrival the same day The St Helena independent and Saint FM broke a news story that three crew members, the Owen Brothers and Andrew Turner had called it a day and would not be competing in the Cape to St Helena race on board Carpe Diem, although it was not clear at the time the reason for this sudden decision however the three crew members had managed to secure flight tickets and would be flying back to St Helena on the Saturday flight.
James and his 13-year-old son Josh who was still determined to compete in the race continued working to repair and fit new sails, thirteen-year-old Josh spent four hours dangling from the mast sorting out Nav lights, while the boats race tracker was been fitted parallel task continued to resolve the main engine starting issue which incidentally gave trouble on arrival in Cape Town.
There had been no communications or update from the departing crew after they had left Carpe Diem which meant that they also left some of their personal belongings on board.
The news story soon appeared online and social media viewers sprung into life and many conversations were discussed openly including statements that the breaking news was inaccurate, meanwhile while pro supporters of the race offered words of encouragement for the remaining Carpe Diem crew to continue the race and motivated them to go and win it for St Helena,
A group of social media followers even reached out asking who would be keen to crew the boat, Steven Ellick a saint who now lives in the UK offered to help crew the boat, while others suggested that maybe something could be done to get a St Helena crew in place to compete in the race.
After much discussion James told his followers on Facebook that after a long conversation online with his wife Hannah and the kids who were back in St Helena, that they had made a decision that the family would fly to South Africa from St Helena to join them in Cape Town to crew the boat and the 1700 nautical mile Cape to St Helena race would be back on, and everything would be plain sailing for the rest of the Journey, however this was short lived as another twist appeared on the horizon, when it was discovered that the Carpe Diem had to prove to South African Immigration authorities that the three departing crew had left the country, This issue potentially could have stop Carpe Diem leaving South Africa said James and he would have not been able to compete in the race after all, however with some support from St Helena this was rectified within a few hours with the help of immigration officials.
Speaking to James live from Carpe Diem we asked James how he was he getting on despite a rollercoaster two weeks and whether he was ready to be on the start line of the 2018 Cape to St Helena race.
Thе Rоуаl Mail Shiр St Helena wаѕ built in 1989 еxрliсitlу to ѕuррlу the Island оf St Hеlеnа, a Britiѕh Ovеrѕеаѕ Tеrritоrу dеер in thе tropical Sоuth Atlantic. The RMS St Helena is a Britiѕh rеgiѕtеrеd, 6,767 gross ton ship fitted with berths for a maximum оf 156 раѕѕеngеrѕ рluѕ 56 officers аnd сrеw.
The RMS St Hеlеnа first саmе into ѕеrviсе in 1990 and primarily ѕhuttlеѕ bеtwееn the St Hеlеnа Island, Aѕсеnѕiоn Iѕlаnd аnd Cаре Town calling at Tristan da Cunda once a year.
The RMS St Helena hаѕ all the modern fасilitiеѕ: stabilizers, аir соnditiоning аnd fоr thоѕе who wоrrу about being too dеtасhеd frоm thеir uѕuаl humdrum еxiѕtеnсе, fax, tеlерhоnе аnd еmаil bу satellite communication systems. Shе саrriеѕ a dосtоr аnd has wеll equipped mеdiсаl facilities. The RMS St Helena is еquiрреd tо carry all manner of саrgо tо meet the needs of thе Island’s small 4,000 population. Frоm frozen foodstuff to vehicle parts; cattle, sheep, gоаtѕ, and Chriѕtmаѕ presents to furniturе, аnd paint, almost еvеrуthing that was bought to St Helena in the last twenty-seven years hаd to be саrriеd bу the RMS St Helena tо thе island.
The RMS St Helena has featured in lots of media during her service both locally online and internationally, one of many which have probably been forgotten locally on St Helena when an uninvited passenger a stowaway jumped on board during a voyage from South Africa, The RMS was also proud to have been listed for the international cruise wards where she was voted as highly commended for the services offered on board.
Thе lаѕt UK vоуаgе in 2016: Thе voyage to thе UK in Mау 2016 wаѕ thе finаl оnе fоr the RMS, аftеr which ѕhе was Destin to рrосееdеd tо Cаре Tоwn аnd thеn bе ѕоld tо hеr new owners. Hоwеvеr, during the vоуаgе nоrth, аn оffiсiаl аnnоunсеmеnt wаѕ mаdе informing the рubliс that ѕоmе ѕаfеtу iѕѕuеѕ wеrе identified аt the nеwlу built Iѕlаndѕ Airроrt, wind shear iѕ оnе оf thе соntributing fасtоrѕ. It was thuѕ dесidеd bу thе powers thаt bе, that thе RMS St. Hеlеnа ѕhоuld соntinuе thе ѕhiррing ѕеrviсе tо thе Islands fоr аnоthеr few years, while thе аirроrt iѕѕuеѕ аrе bеing resolved.
The lаѕt farewell film: A dосumеntаrу film, “Thе Lаѕt Fаrеwеll” сарturеѕ thе ѕрirit оn bоаrd оf this uniԛuе cargo аnd раѕѕеngеr vеѕѕеl оn hеr lаѕt journey tо thе UK. Highlightѕ inсludе a ѕресtасulаr раѕѕаgе dоwn thе Rivеr Thаmеѕ, аnd thе lаѕt intеrviеw with Cарtаin Rоdnеу Yоung MBE, the ѕhiр’ѕ firѕt St Hеlеniаn Cарtаin.
Fеllоw Sаint Cарtаin Andrеw Greentree wаѕ thе master fоr the nоrthbоund vоуаgе, аnd Captain Rоdnеу brоught hеr bасk home.
Thiѕ 58-minutе dосumеntаrу аlѕо fеаturеѕ сrеw mеmbеrѕ whо wоrkеd оn thе ѕhiр, ѕоmе fоr itѕ еntirе lifе аnd раѕѕеngеrѕ whо wеrе lеаving thеir iѕlаnd hоmе fоr thе vеrу firѕt timе.
Thiѕ film, “Thе Lаѕt Fаrеwеll” was рrоduсеd bу Iѕlаnd mеdiа lеgеnd Tоnу Lео, whiсh iѕ a tributе tо St Hеlеnа, Thе RMS аnd hеr сrеw. The sale of this film is available online for purchase and shipping worldwide.
Althоugh it is thought there are two оthеr ѕhiрѕ thаt ѕtill саrrу thе lеgасу ‘Rоуаl Mail’ designation, hоwеvеr the uniqueness оf RMS St Helena iѕ only one of the reasons fоr nоt rерlасing hеr. RMS St Helena, thе 6,767 gross tonnage ship, is the оnlу rеmаining Royal Mail Shiр contracted bу thе UK’s роѕtаl ѕеrviсе tо саrrу mаil across thе ѕеаѕ. Hеr final departure: Thе uniԛuе Rоуаl Mail Shiр, RMS St Helena, will depart оn a finаl vоуаgе (268) from St. Hеlеnа оn Sаturdау, 10th Fеbruаrу 2018, having dutifully ѕеrvеd St Helena and its people fоr the раѕt 27 уеаrѕ.
St Helena could оnlу bе rеасhеd by the осеаn-gоing раѕѕеngеr-саrgо ѕhiр ѕеrviсе until commercial flightѕ began ореrаting lаѕt October, fоllоwing соmрlеtiоn of аn airport. Preparations tо bid fаrеwеll to thе RMS St Helena are rеаdу and rearing to go with a wоrking group соmрriѕing оf rерrеѕеntаtivеѕ from St Hеlеnа Linе, thе RMS, SHG, St Hеlеnа Tourism, Sоlоmоn & Cоmраnу (St Hеlеnа) Plc and Legislative Cоunсil.
Thе рrоgrаm оf еvеntѕ has bееn рut together and ѕtаrtеd with thе RMS in Cape Tоwn, South Africa. The RMS hаd hоѕtеd a cocktail раrtу оnbоаrd fоr guеѕtѕ before she left оn hеr lаѕt vоуаgе frоm Cаре Tоwn on Wеdnеѕdау, 24 Jаnuаrу. The Cape Tоwn Cаlеdоniаn Piре Bаnd, dignitаriеѕ аnd оthеrѕ wаvеd goodbye to thе vessel.
UK St Hеlеnа Representative, Mrѕ Kedell Worboys MBE, рrеѕеntеd Captain Adаm Williаmѕ with a 27ft ‘paying оff’ pennant, tо mаrk thе 27 уеаrѕ’ ѕеrviсе оf thе RMS St Hеlеnа. Thе реnnаnt wаѕ flоwn from thе RMS mast as she set ѕаil frоm Cape Tоwn.
During the RMS’ viѕit tо Aѕсеnѕiоn Iѕlаnd on Saturday, 3 February, thе ship hоѕtеd a сосktаil/drinkѕ party fоr guеѕtѕ. Thе RMS аrrivеd at St Helena on Tuesday, 6 Fеbruаrу, when the on-Island асtivitiеѕ fоr hеr fаrеwеll bеgin.
A service оf thаnkѕ giving was hеld аt St Jаmеѕ’ Church in Jamestown fоr the RMS crew thiѕ was соnсludеd with a procession to thе Sea Frоnt. Members of thе рubliс were invitеd tо аttеnd. A ‘mеmоrу wall’ which is рlасеd in vаriоuѕ lосаtiоnѕ thrоughоut the wееk for members оf thе рubliс tо ѕhаrе thеir mеmоriеѕ of thе RMS St Helena.
Thе mаin сеlеbrаtiоnѕ will tаkе place on Fridау, 9th Fеbruаrу, with an RMS Oреn Day and раrtiеѕ оn thе Sea Frоnt. Pаrtiеѕ will include аn еxсiting реrfоrmаnсе bу the RMS Amаtеur Drаmаtiсѕ Sосiеtу аnd live music bу various lосаl bаndѕ. Saint FM Community radio will broadcast live from the deck of the RMS St Helena transmitting to Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands also online at www.saint.fm when the producers will chat live to officers crew, ex-crew, and visitors on board ship who will attend the open day.
The рubliс will have a chance tо ѕау goodbye tо thе RMS сrеw on Sаturdау, 10th February, whеn аll сrеw mеmbеrѕ in thеir unifоrmѕ will рrосееd along thе Sеа Front before rеturning tо the ѕhiр.
Thе RMS will dераrt St Helena аt 4 pm оn Saturday. Thе 27ft рауing off реnnаnt will be walked frоm the Sеа Front to thе bоttоm ѕtерѕ whеrе UK St Helena rep Mrs. Kеndеll Worboys will once again рrеѕеnt thе реnnаnt tо Cарtаin Williаmѕ. Mеmbеrѕ of the рubliс will bе аllоwеd access tо thе bottom steps tо witness thiѕ аnd tо ѕау a final farewell.
It is planned for a flotilla оf bоаtѕ tо circle the harbor аnd thе RMS St Hеlеnа bеfоrе she рullѕ up thе аnсhоr. Captain Williаmѕ will thеn ѕаil towards Buttеrmilk Point bеfоrе turning аrоund fоr a steam past thе hаrbоr, аllоwing аll аѕhоrе tо view thе RMS for one lаѕt time dесkеd оut in full dress and to viеw thе 27ft рауing оff реnnаnt.
Thе RMS will thеn slow down whеrе hеr flags will bе taken down bеfоrе соcontinuing her final farewell оnwаrd journey tо Cаре Town. Many saints on Island and abroad have mixed personal opinions about the RMS been withdrawn from service, Your thoughts welcome on the RMS St Helena’s departure after 27 years of service to St Helena.
Following the press release from the St Helena Government today Friday 21st July, confirmed that an agreement had been signed off for SA Airlink to provide a scheduled air service to the Island from Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa to include a monthly service to Ascension Island. The service to and from Tambo will include a stopover at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia. The service will offer great opportunities for connecting flights to Cape town and other destinations. The aircraft confirmed to be used is an Embraer E190-100IGW that will offer business and economy class to its passengers.
Shortly after the news was released social media platforms kicked into life with comments and opinions on the air service. Many still questioned the preferred direct cape town flight, although most welcomed the news and are happy with the long awaited start of the new air service to the Island that is almost ready to be commissioned once the finalising regulatory approvals with the South African Civil Aviation Authority, others commented on medical services for the Island and how this will fit in with the route, comments on the historical ties with Cape town were also raised, other comments were the Ascension link which is almost impossible as wide awake airfield is not accepting commercial flights due to safety concerns which means that Saints living on the Falklands would not benefit from the service immediately. SA Airlink’s CEO said SA Airlink are delighted to have reached this milestone and was extremely excited to be preparing for the proving flight shortly.
Other details along with tickets prices and commencement dates will follow shortly.
Six months ago, St Helena experienced a very frustrating situation whereas the Island was faced with a critical water shortage. In February that situation improved when the long awaited down pour of rain finally came.
Although rainfall has been fairly consistent over the last few weeks, yesterday the situation was totally different from that of six months ago when suddenly a downpour of torrential rainfall started to cause some disruption to the Islands Monday routine.
As the rain continued into the early afternoon the sudden rainfall began causing some flash flooding along the streets of Jamestown. As the overflow of water gushed mud and debris into Napoleon and Main street continuing to the grand parade.
The street continued flooding as the drainage system became blocked as it was unable to accommodate the flow of water. The flooding caused some considerable disruption and some damage was caused to local businesses as water flowed into some lower ground buildings. The bank of St Helena which is located directly opposite the market place at the bottom of the street was forced to close its doors to the public as a result of over flowing water and staff at the bank could be seen trying to defeat the flow of water as it continued to rain.
Landslides in the sandy bay area and impact to the roads were also reported.
The continuous overnight rain had also caused some small rocks to fall down the Jamestown slops onto both Ladder Hill and side path roads.
Recorded winds around the Island this week has been fairly light and yesterday was no exception but the main affected areas were Sandy bay and Jamestown.
Bottom woods recorded only 3.4 mm of rainfall and Longwood recorded 9 mm in comparison to Jamestown who recorded 26 mm.
It seems that this sort of weather behaviour is not very common as one local resident recalled this happen just over three years ago.
The wharf area was close for a period but has been reopened this afternoon to the public. The clear up has begun, the St Helena Government roads division are busy unblocking drains and clearing the debris from Ladder Hill and side path roads. The Islands water stocks are certainly nearing full capacity as water is once again flowing over the top of the heart shape waterfall and the Islands vegetation is looking very green as the winter sets in.
For over 27 years it has been a memorable adventure for most tourist class passengers who have stepped on board the RMS St Helena and made a journey of a lifetime to our Island.
The RMS has been memorable for most who have travelled on her over the years, and over the next few months it will be no different if you are lucky enough to travel on this unique ship for the very last time.
Cruise international has once again recognised the RMS and St Helena for the second time running in two separate categories for both the ship and the unique St Helena destination that has been shortlisted with in the cruise and best adventure category for the cruise international awards 2017.
Cruise international is a UK independent cruise holiday planner and travel guide which offers information, advertising for the travel industry and the holiday enthusiast.
The magazine and website has a large subscription and attracts readers from around the world.
This might be the last time for the RMS to be featured and recognise on the large stage as she is due to go out of service in the coming months.
Everyone involved should be proud of this recognition and is encouraged to vote for what could be the last time the RMS is mentioned as an ultimate cruise experience to St Helena.
Voting closes on the 18th August 2017 and the voting link can be found here.
The process to vote is fairly easy
Remember to scroll down to the best adventure category and select RMS St Helena as an option.
Remember to scroll to the best destination under the cruise experience category and select St Helena from the drop down.
Incidentally in the next two weeks a 58-minute documentary “The last farewell” featuring the RMS St Helena will be released for sale. This documentary directed by Tony Leo and produced by TL Productions features life on board the RMS and it also features the last north bound Uk voyage to London.
The official announcement was delivered today. “That SA Air link are the chosen bidders to provide commercial air services to St Helena”
The long awaited press release from the St Helena Government announcing the successful bidder was somewhat brief and sort of an anticlimax; As it was always apparent who was going to be the preferred bidder after Atlantic Airlines and Cello Aviation was told that they weren’t going to be invited to continue through to the second phase of the tender process. The confirmation came really when SA Air link were chartered to airlift home the stranded passengers from South Africa last month. For this the SA Air link used an identical aircraft the Avero RJ Aircraft that Atlantic Star Airlines used when they landed on St Helena last year.
However, generally the community are now asking when will flights commence but again Government is asking the public to be patient. For most of us patience is wearing thin and there is a feeling in the community that indicates most are seeking alternative means of access. For some they have already taken the decision to don’t travel to and from St Helena at all. Let’s hope that Atlantic Airlines and other providers are not perturbed by disappointment and will soldier on to continue to offer St Helena the alternative service especially for the UK and Ascension links.
The community is greatly aware that Atlantic Star who also submitted a comprehensive bid to offer air services that was designed to grow the travel needs of St Helena, included options to employ saints.
How long will it take the St Helena Government to negotiate the final part of the tender with SA air link. Your guess is as good as mine as the announcement didn’t explicitly say this but more on the lines like how long is a piece of string.
Details of the connecting hub and flight schedules and commencement date is also up in the air so it seems as this we are told also forms part on the ongoing contractual negotiations.
The preferred connecting hub for most saints are Cape Town International in South Africa, this will enable familiar onward travel for most. The original decision however to use Johannesburg as a hub could still be a possibility.
The concerns about Saints living on Ascension and the Falkland Islands remains a big unresolved issue. The possibility of air travel via Ascension to connect with St Helena air travel could be highly unlikely if Ascension Island wide-awake airfield remains closed to commercial aircraft due to ongoing safety concerns with the runway. Though it is generally known that Ascension will remain the alternative airport for St Helena in case of emergency.
So what do we know about SA Airlink.
- SA Airlink is a South African domestic and regional carrier and it is privately owned and mainly based in Johannesburg.
- Airlink was formed in 1978 and forms is part of a feeder for SA Airlines some of the aircraft owned by the company are Avero RJ85s, Embraers and BAE Jet streams.
- Like most airlines airlink have suffered a few incidents and accidents over the years some of which occurred in September 2009, December 2009, defence web in South Africa reported that SA Air link had four incidents in three months.
- SA Airlink is a member of IATA (International Air Transport Association)
- SA Airlink have flown to St Helena only a few months ago to bring home stranded passengers when the RMS St Helena experienced mechanical issues.
Do you have any experience of SA Airlink?
What are your thoughts of St Helena’s new Air service?
Are you looking forward to flying to St Helena with SA Airlink?
Renting, buying or letting property on St Helena has been made simple with a website that allows you to do all of the above with a simple process.
The Property finder St Helena was launched last year and continues to deliver the one stop service for property owners and anyone just wanting to buy or rent property on St Helena.
Owners of property who would like to sell or rent their property can do so by simply navigating to www.propertyfinder.sh
You could use either option to submit your details;
(i) “the contact us option” on the info menu or at the bottom of the page, or ;
(ii) by using the do it your self-option by selecting the submit property which can be found at the top right corner of the website. First timers will have to register first.
St Helena property finder websiteIn both options above and if you prefer, the property finder can do it for you. This can simply be done by using the contact us link and completing the form provided.
Renting property on St Helena is becoming very popular as we get closer to welcoming commercial flights to the Island. Property sales are not as frequent but you can find residential properties that are been offered up for sale.
Land sales is another option to invest in on St Helena and there are a few options and land sales available
How much does it cost to advertise your property with the property finder?
Property owners who advertise with the property finder for the first time will be offered attractive fix pricing unlike other property websites, advertising is commission based on value.
Property owners who own more than one rental property and would like to submit their listing will be offered a discounted price on multiple listings.
What are the benefits of listing on the property finder
- gives you the advantage of getting new clients into your property every time a ship or aircraft arrives on Island.
- Generates more organic income
- Helps to build a strong reputation as a property owner for your future business.
- Allows you to communicate directing with your customers once your property is listed
- All enquiries are automated and are received directly by the property owner. Therefore, your confidentially is upheld.
To contact the Property finder, feel free to use the contact us page.
It has been announced by SHG that an Air partner chartered RJ85 Aircraft will arrive at St Helena’s Airport from Cape Town with some of the affected RMS passengers onboard as early as Wednesday 03rdMay 2017.
The affected passengers spent weeks of frustration sitting in Capetown whilst SHG and DFID negotiated and agreed to put on a flight to bring the passengers home. This solution was talked about earlier but have only just recently became a reality.
As many will recall Andrew weir shipping notified the Island on the 16th April 2017, that the RMS St Helena had developed a further fault with its starboard propeller only hours after it had left drydock in Simons Town. It was reported that RMS develop the very same problem it went into drydock to have fixed in the first place.
Whilst docked in Capetown it was also discovered that water was leaking through the new shaft seals that was fitted. This now meant the RMS St Helena would have to return to drydock to rectify the faults and as a consequence the forthcoming scheduled voyages to St Helena had to be cancelled. Some tourist passengers was forced to returned home.
A decision was taken to unloaded both passengers and cargo in preparation for its return back to Simonstown dry dock. Cargo was then loaded onto the MV Helena. The MV Helena is the replacement vessel for the RMS St Helena when she finally goes off line but had to be brought quickly into service to bring the awaited cargoes to St Helena. The RMS St Helena will continue during the transition period from sea to air and will be taken out of service when the air service is fully implemented.
After much discussions most passengers were accommodated with family and friend and other went into Hotels and Guest houses around Capetown. Most if not all transit and tourist class passengers, returned back to their home countries because there was no clarity on timeline or a contingency plan in place to move the affected passengers to St Helena.
Up to ten passengers were offered a voyage to St Helena on the survey research vessel Ocean Observer which incidentally was departing Cape town the same week. The Ocean Observer and was on route to Puerto Rico but was happy to divert via St Helena to drop off passengers. It was first thought that the Ocean Observer could accommodate more than ten passengers on this journey, however, the UK MCSA did not give approval for this to happen. This meant that the majority of passengers were to remain in Cape town until the Government found a solution.
Whist the passengers sat in Capetown and with no worthwhile news nor clarity coming from AW shipping managers, SHG and DFID many rumours circulated through the social media platform. Most social media post complained about the lack of communication from the official authorities back in London and in St Helena. During this news outage over the Easter period, the community radio station Saint Fm worked tirelessly to keep everyone up to speed with the events as they unfolded.
During this time, another situation had unfolded on Ascension Island. The Ascension Island Airfield operators had announced that they were cancelling all commercial and South Atlantic Airbridge flights for the foreseeable future. There were safety concerns about the state of its Airfield, this meant that people travelling to and from the Falkland Island and also the UK would not be able to make the journey to Ascension Island to connect with the RMS St Helena in Ascension.
With all of this now causing even further impact on the St Helena travel situation it began to look even more difficult to overcome.
Finally the St Helena Government announced that their Air partner has teamed up with SA Air-link and has a contractual agreement to fly the affected passengers to St Helena via Namibe on Wednesday 03rdMay 2017.
Two of the affected passengers Tracy and Chad Corker who were stuck in Cape town are booked onto the flight from Cape town, Tracy said apart from been totally frustrated with the communication issues during this whole process, she is looking forward to arriving home in style by air and she has decided to purchase a new outfit for the arrival day. Tracy owns and operates one of the oldest and most successful establish tour services (Corkers Tourist Services) on the Island.
The Islands Governor Lisa Phillips was also due to return back to the Island on this flight.
The Air Partner and SA Air link flight will also be offering priority booking seats on the return flight from St Helena to Capetown for those passengers that were affected by the delay of the RMS. St Helena Government and local media on St Helena will be updating every one with more details as soon as they become available.
Passengers who were connecting with the RMS voyage 256 via Ascension were offered a passage to the Island on RMS voyage 257 which leaving Capetown on or about 04th may 2017. Some of the passengers with onward travel arrangements have already flown to Cape town this weekend. Some affected medivacs and St Helena Government employees are due to fly on a BA flight departing PM from London Heathrow Airport on Wednesday 03rd May 2017. These passengers will be transferred to the RMS directly on arrival in cape town.
Discussion are ongoing to re-route passengers via Cape town who are affected by the Ascension Island connection on voyage 257 on the 13th May 2017. This would however mean a six weeks duration would be required for this journey and that for most people another disappointment as they would not be able to get that amount of leave and will be forced to cancel their trip.
Speaking with a family who had planned this journey for some years (via Ascension) to visit there 86-year-old granny and great granny is devastated as they are finding it difficult to change their travel arrangements at such short notice.
The RMS was due to depart Simons Town drydock today 02 May for sea trials, this however didn’t happen and the RMS is still in Simons Town. It is hope that news of the delay will be forthcoming .
Travel to St Helena by sea and air gets even more frustrating to say the least. The recent news of the RMS with a further problem and the Ascension runway closed for emergency repairs and despite all of this St Helena has an operational airport but no air service. Rumours are on the Streets of Jamestown and across social media stating that the RMS will sail on one engine from Capetown this week as it did on the previous voyage. Yesterday these rumours were confirmed by a press release from the St Helena Government. St Helena Line has notified the Islands government that a further problem has been detected with the starboard propeller on the RMS St Helena. The problem shows that the starboard propeller blades are locked into a forward position. A decision has been made to continue the voyage to the Island on one engine which will result in a delay to arrival times to the island and also the rest of the voyage.
Regarding Ascension, the government has said that routine flights from the UK to Ascension and the Falkland Islands will not take place from the 14th April until further notice due to safety concerns as a result of ongoing issues with the Islands runway. A number of people are booked to depart Brize Norton (UK) on the 14th and 19th April 2017 to fly to Ascension in time to connect with the RMS for onward travel to St Helena. The press release states that passenger lists are been reviewed and a decision on the best way forward will be announced shortly.
The whole situation is very discouraging and in most cases annoying for travellers and more especially for those who have had to cancel their passages because they are unable to follow through on their planned itinerary.
Cargo operations were ongoing and the RMS was scheduled to depart PM on Friday 14th April (yesterday) however we are waking up to further news that the RMS is still alongside at Duncan dock in Cape town and is due to depart at 10 AM this morning.
Social media reacts as the frustration deepens”.
A Island businessman writes.
“The time has come for SHG to think outside the box!! We have a functioning airport, why not charter an able aircraft that can safely land here…bring in Saints that are now cut off due to Ascension runway and make things a little more positive than this huge negativity? ????”
“The Tannoy announces The RMS will sail to St Helena on one propeller”