Thursday, 17 October 2013

Arrival at Tristan da Cunha...

We arrived at the anchorage off the Settlement of Edinburgh, Tristan da Cunha, in the early morning on the 12th of September 2013. The sea was very rough and a strong wind was blowing, which meant that we couldn't immediately land. The authorities deemed that the wind was too strong for the helicopters to operate, and so we spent an uncomfortable few hours being tossed around as we waited for the weather to moderate. But late in the afternoon, just after 17h00, the call was heard on the intercom for all Tristan passenger baggage to be taken to the hangar, and all passengers to be ready to be flown ashore. The wind was still pumping, but it had evidently dropped enough for the helicopter blades to start to rotate, and the first of many flights over the next hour-and-a-half took to the air shortly thereafter.

I was a bit nervous as we boarded the Starlite Aviation Bell 212, but I knew that the crew were professionals and the helicopter was powerful enough to handle the strong westerly wind. We took off at around 17h30 and within minutes we were walking out on the American Fence, the landing field in front of Tristan's school. After a week at sea, dry land felt very good - as did the embrace of both old and new friends eager to welcome visitors to their happy island home. Our luggage arrived on several flights after the passengers had been landed, and a long human chain formed to transfer luggage from the helicopter to a safe distance from the whirring blades. We found our own bags and were soon whisked away to enjoy some amazing Tristan hospitality with our hosts, Brian and Peggy.

The Agulhas only stayed for a little over a day before hoisting her anchor and sailing on to Gough Island the following afternoon. She was able to offload many stores by island barge since the weather was much better than the day we arrived. We spent this day exploring the Settlement and familiarising ourselves with the location of important landmarks. We saw the "Welcome to the Remotest Island" sign as well as the ABC Stone. This stone was painted by my Grandfather in 1962 when he was on the island as part of the Royal Society Expedition to investigate the new volcano that had erupted in 1961, forcing the islanders into exile. He did not know whether the islanders would ever be able to return, and so he painted the stone with his initials and the years of his association with the island. Of course, the islanders returned the following year and my Grandad visited again in 1984 and maintained a close relationship with Tristan until his death in 2007. But the stone remains, still painted to this day.

And so ended our first full day on Tristan. We were happily anticipating many more exciting adventures over the next three weeks - and Tristan didn't disappoint! Stay posted for more!

It was a stormy morning when we arrived off Tristan.
The wind was blowing very hard!
But after a few hours the helicopter powered into life.
Waiting in the hangar to board the helicopter.
Flying to Tristan...
And leaving the Agulhas behind!
Passengers land on Tristan da Cunha.
Bell 212 with the ship in the background.
We'd made it!
The ABC Stone near the Big Watron.
The last barge of supplies comes ashore as the Agulhas sails on to Gough Island.
Welcome sign down at Calshot Harbour.

No comments: