St Helena 2009 - Voyages between Cape Town and St Helena

The RMS St Helena is a cargo and passenger ship. The front of the ship was piled high with containers of goods to take to the island. It can take 100 passengers and there is a crew of 60.

We left on Wednesday eveing and arrived in Walvis Bay on Saturday morning. After spending the day in the town we continued on our way that eveing and arrived in St Helena the following Wednesday morning.

As we left Cape Town the 'tablecloth' was covering Table Mountain. Once out of the harbour the sea was quite rough - and the dining room was half empty that first evening!

On the voyage between Cape Town and Walvis Bay there were lots of sea birds and several seals and dolphins.

The sea birds ranged from tiny storm petrels to albatrosses with a 2m wingspan which were amazing, gliding over the surface of the sea and using the uplift from the waves keep them going without needing to flap their wings at all.

We also saw flying fish. At first we thought that they were birds as they really looked to be flying over the Ocean. When we realized that they were flying fish we were amazed at the distance that they travelled out of the water, some of them well over 50m.






Walvis Bay harbour with sand dunes behind the town.

On leaving Walvis Bay the weather improved and we spent a lot of time on the sundeck at the back of the ship.

With under 100 passengers we soon got to know other people on the voyage. There were several 'Saints' (St Helena residents) who were working abroad and returning to visit family and friends, or who had been to Cape Town for medical treatment. (There is a hospital on the island but it doesn't have the facilities to treat everything, so islanders sometimes have to go to Cape Town). There were also travellers from South Africa, the UK, France and Switzerland, many of them visiting St Helena for the first time.

There were plenty of activities on offer during the day and in the evening. As well as a variety of 'sports' on offer there were quizzes, a range of videos, an exercise room, a small pool on the sun deck and a library.

Throughout the voyages the food was excellent (in fact it was very difficult not to pig out)! and the crew were very friendly and helpful.


Deck quoits.

Cricket - out, if you hit the ball over the net and into the sea!

When we saw 'dog racing' advertised for one evening we were expecting to be watching and betting on races on a video but it was a more 'hands on' type of dog racing. Some of the officers took part as well.

We had a very interesting tour of the bridge where Mia, theSecond Officer, explained what all the instruments were for. A few of us requested a tour of the engine rooms and 6 of us were shown around by the Second Engineer Gordon - here he's showing us their control panel.

We made lots of new freinds on board, including:

Arthur and Sophie.


Ronnie and Verona.

Jean-Pierre and Laurence.

Karl and Erika.

Jan and Chrizette (who got married on St Helena).

Malcolm, who kindly let me use some of his photos.

Chris, a 'Saint' now living and working in New Zealand.

On the last evening there was a barbecue on the sun deck.



Up early on the final day to catch our first sight of the island....

....and the sunrise.

Our first sight of Jamestown, in the valley, and the surrounding hills from the ship once it had moored out in the Bay.

St Helenians arriving to start unloading the cargo. We had to use this boat to get from the ship to the shore as there's no harbour.

Our return voyage went straight to Cape Town so only took 5 days. We had very good weather with several hours of sunshine every day except the day that we arrived in Cape Town when it was wet and windy!

We had some excellent views of the island from the ship as we sailed along the North and West coasts.

Jamestown is in the valley to the left and Half Tree Hollow at the top of Ladder Hill - many of the houses here have excellent views of the Ocean.

Man and Horse, the SW point of the island, with Sperry island on the right.

The South of the island.


It was hot enough to swim in the pool.

There were just over 70 passengers on the return trip, many of them new faces, so we made more friends - but I didn't take as many photos on this trip!!

Once again there was plenty to do on board - and too much food!!



Sunset on the first day of the voyage, by which time St Helena had disappeared over the horizon.

Voyages between Cape Town and St Helena
St Helena - exploring the island
St Helena - Jamestown
St Helena - forts and defences
St Helena's Day
St Helena - boat trip
St Helena - Napoleon
St Helena - birds
St Helena - plants
St Helena - Island views - a photo gallery. This link will open in a new window.
St Helena - background information - link to the St Helena tourism website, it will open in a new window.
Diary - Word document.

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