Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Farewell Tristan da Cunha!

After an amazing visit on Tristan, with many fantastic memories and experiences to take home, the day arrived when it was time to say a sad farewell. Soon after lunch on Friday, October 4th, the rotors of the Bell 212 helicopter, parked on the ship's helideck, started to rotate. The helicopter whirred up to full power and was soon cutting through the air, heading across to the Settlement, where it made a safe landing in the American Fence.

We were the third passenger trip for the helicopter, and so had time to say goodbye to some truly wonderful people. It wasn't easy saying farewell to many islanders, including Harold and Amy, Eric and Martha, Karl and Julia and Kaitlyn, and, of course, our lovely hosts Brian and Peggy. Tears were shed and hugs were shared, and soon enough we were bundled into the helicopter and lifting into the skies above the Settlement.

We flew directly over the New Volcano and the Rubbish Dump near Pig Bite. We then banked out to sea and approached the Agulhas from the east, lining up an approach to the helideck. We disembarked the helicopter and made our way back to our cabin, gathering our bags which had been ferried to the ship the day before. After several more passenger and luggage flights the helicopter was stowed safely in its hanger. We were ready to begin our sail to Cape Town.

At a little before 15h30, the ship's whistle sounded one long and three short blasts, and with that the SA Agulhas II turned around and sailed in an easterly direction towards Cape Town. As we slowly pulled away from Tristan, more and more of the island's Peak became visible, revealing a thick layer of snow on the heights above.

Candace and I stayed out on deck watching the island slowly get smaller, while Albatrosses and other sea birds accompanied us as we sailed away from the setting sun. Our time on Tristan had come to an end, but our adventure was not over yet. We still had another five days of sailing ahead of us, and those days were quite eventful indeed!

The whole island community turns out on departure day.
With Eric and Martha.
Saying goodbye to Harold and Amy.
Inside the helicopter. Candace is wearing standard ear defenders. I chose to use ear plugs.
Lining up on approach to the SA Agulhas II.
The helicopter flew several flights between the island and the ship, before it was time to weigh anchor and sail for Cape Town.
Snow visible above the Base.
Farewell Tristan! We'll miss you! Thanks for everything!

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