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Week 22 - Southern Circumnavigation Complete

One more hurdle left to jump over (recrossing the equator to our starting point)

This week we returned to Saint Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, which means we have now completed a circumnavigation of the Southern Hemisphere. Our distance travelled since departing Saint Helena on 21/12/2021 to our return on 02/05/2022 was 25,664 nautical miles, which was completed in 132 Total elapsed days, of which 119 days were at sea.

It turns out that that we are in good company by choosing Saint Helena as the final port for our circumnavigation, as Captain James Cook's ship HMS Endeavour anchored and stored here in May 1771 after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. It was his final stop before completing his first circumnavigation. He called at the island again in 1775, on the final leg of his second circumnavigation.

On 11 April 1898, the American sailor Joshua Slocum, on his solo round-the-world voyage, also made Saint Helena his final stop before completing his circumnavigation.

We are following illustrious heels!!

Return to the Western Hemisphere On Sun 1st May (Day 151) at 01:15 UTC, we crossed the Prime Meridian/Greenwich Meridian, which is the point where Longitude is 0°. Just over 6 weeks ago we crossed the International Dateline on 17/03/2022 at 05:48 UTC where the longitude is 180° . This means we have spent 44 days at sea in Eastern longitudes, covering a distance of 10,379 miles - taking an average speed of 9.77 Knots to cross through the Eastern Hemisphere of the planet. (Ok, we have been through all this before....I refer you all to the relevant nerd alerts and explation in earlier weeks.......what do you mean, you didn't read those bits?!........Ed)

Wed 27th April (Day 147)

After passing the Cape of Good Hope , we found ourselves surfing in South Atlantic swells of 4.0 – 4.5m, which were immediately astern of us. On this surfing occasionwe are experienced occasional juddering/cavitation of the propeller and determined that it was caused by the waves overtaking us. On occasions the foamy/bubbly waves broke through our propeller giving it an incomplete volume of water and causing it to cavitate for a couple of seconds until steady engine revolutions resume. The cooling water supply to the main engine was once again at a very low temperature - those cold waters coming up from the Antarctic are not to be underestimated (or swum in.....Ed).

Fri 29th April (Day 149)

We watched Venus and Jupiter getting closer each morning this week and, on the mornings of Sat April 30 and Sun May 1, Venus and Jupiter (the two brightest planets in the sky) appeared to collide when they came together in what's known as an ultraclose conjunction.

Planets and stars often align, but April 2022 has been a rare treat, with four of our closest neighbours in the solar system: Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn aligning almost perfectly and visible to the naked eye without a telescope.

NASA's sky watchers described the conjunction as being "really impressive and make for thrilling sights in the morning sky."

(Finally, a moment for us space enthusiasts.....not nerdy at all!!........Ed)

Sat 30 April (Day 150)

On any well managed vessel, the repair list starts the day that the last repair period finishes in the shipyard and it is no different on ASTRA. With 5 months of seas crashing over our decks, we have the scars of rust streaks from every location that was vulnerable and exposed to the weather. Thankfully, we have no major damage to attend to on our return, but we still have a number of items on the hull, deck areas and in the engine room. We had our first meeting this morning to discuss the jobs and determine which are for the shipyard or ship staff and which jobs require external contractors.

Later in the afternoon a black albatross arrived, our first albatross since rounding South Africa, but it only stopped for a few hours and was a bit camera shy.

Monday 02 May (Day 152)

We made landfall from the eastern side of Saint Helena as sunset approached, treating us to a range of differing filtered lights as we passed under the shadows of the huge cliffs of this remote rocky outcrop.

We arrive at anchor at 19:18 hrs and must spend 36 hrs there while we await for the island ferry MV HELENA, which is managed by Andrew Weir Shipmanagement, who also provide ship/yacht management services to ASTRA.

We are scheduled to berth on Wed 04 May at 06:30 hrs to load 33,000 litres of diesel for our final leg back to Lanzarote.

With the opportunity of a quiet night at anchor, Dan spends the days prior to arrival preparing a quiz, which was immediately followed by the whole crew playing a game of contract whist (aka ‘Oh Hell’).

Iain wins the quiz and Mikey wins the cards. (That is so NOT what I would have predicted!.....Ed)

Saint Helena

On the last visit, we we didn't much time looking into the history of this island as everything was dominated by our change of route when we switched from an eastbound circumnavigation to a westbound circumnavigation. This was probably one of the biggest decisions that Iain had to make in his life (and believe me he, doesn’t like changing from an established plan at the best of times.......Ed, in a more heartfelt manner than usual!!)

So, a little bit about Saint Helena:

Saint Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world and was uninhabited when it was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502.

In 1657, it received a Colonial Charter, when Oliver Cromwell granted the East India Company (EIC) a charter to govern Saint Helena and, the following year, the company decided to fortify the island and settle it with planters.

The first governor, Captain John Dutton, arrived in 1659, making Saint Helena one of Britain's earliest colonies outside North America and the Caribbean. A fort and houses were built: Jamestown had been founded, "in the narrow valley between steep cliffs" named in honour of the Duke of York, later King James II.

It is perhaps best known for being the site Napoleon was exiled to after his final defeat in 1815. He stayed until he died on Saint Helena on 5 May 1821.

In 1833 it became a crown colony and a 2020 report states that the island's prosperity ended after 1869 when "the Suez Canal shifted trade routes north". A 2019 report explained that "ships no longer needed a stopping point on a longer journey to Europe". The number of ships calling at the island fell from 1,100 in 1855 to only 288 in 1889.

Since 2018 a 100 metre container ship, M/V Helena, has handled all freight to the island. It sails from Cape Town to Saint Helena and Ascension Island. It uses a wharf at Ruperts Bay, which was built to assist the airport construction and it can take a few passengers. Saint Helena typically receives around 600 yachting visitors a year. Last Leg..........We're definitely gong home!!!


Berth Saint Helena: Wed 04 May 06:30 hrs Depart Saint Helena: Wed 04 May 13:00 hrs Arrive Lanzarote: Sunday 15 May 18:00 hrs


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May 04, 2022

Almost Home!

Its been an amazing journey. I almost hate to see it end. I hope there will be plenty more Astra adventures to come. Best wishes to all!


Mark Whitman
Mark Whitman
May 04, 2022

Congratulations on your Southern Circumnavigation! What an accomplishment! Boat surfing the South Atlantic off the coast of Africa? Perhaps the Beach Boys had you in mind: "Let's go surfin' now, Everybody's learning how, Come on and safari with me." Very cool knowing that you are rubbing historic elbows with Drake and that your stay on St. Helena has ended better for you than for Napoleon. Obviously the stars have aligned for your return to Lanzarote! Safe sailing across the equator (don't get tangled in that equator line - its on all of the maps) and enjoy your final evenings aboard with your magnificent crew!


Phil Beaumont
Phil Beaumont
May 04, 2022

Lovely history lesson, never made it there, Ascension island was the closest i got.

Did you meet Jonathan, a tortoise native to Saint Helena, he is believed to have been born c. 1832, thus making him 190 years old, the world's oldest-known living land animal

Take care now on the final leg, dont take the eye of the ball, not until you are tied up at home again xx


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