After a night of heavy dewfall St Helena woke up to a bright sunny day. Today was the 3rd May 2017 the day that another legacy will be made as St Helena awaited the arrival of the Avero RJ 85. It would appear that nothing would deter the many Islanders from making that long trip to the St Helena Airport to view this momentous flight touching down on runway 20.
This would be the maiden flight for a commercial aircraft to bring passengers to St Helena. The Avero RJ 85 operated by SA Air link safely landed with sixty passengers onboard, the majority of whom were returning Saints that were left stranded in South Africa after the Royal Mail Ship the RMS St. Helena developed a further problem with its starboard propeller.
The flight was also considered as a humanitarian one following the successful negotiations between the St Helena Government and DFID in London to address RMS passengers stranded in Capetown. After breaking down for the second time the RMS had to disembark its passengers and cargoes in Capetown and proceed to another dry dock in Simons Town.
The SA Airlink Avero RJ 85 touchdown at St. Helena at approximately 14.55 hours GMT with blue skies and wind speed of around 15mph registered on the runway. The landing of the SAAirlinkRJ-85 Flight SA8878 appear near perfect.
The Airport terminal building was teaming with excitement as approximately three hundred people watched the sixty passengers disembarked the aircraft from the restaurant viewing deck. It was said that the flight was smooth and pleasant, the passengers enjoyed the flight which took seven hours from Capetown via Namibia for a refuel.
Besides the family members of passengers arriving, many were just onlookers to witness this historic moment seeing the passengers stepping off the SA Airlink RJ-85 Jet and making their way to the terminal building. Following the disembarkation most onlookers and family members went to the arrival lounge to greet the arriving passengers.
The cleaning and refuelling of the aircraft took just under an hour the plane was ready to embark her passengers for the return flight to South Africa. As soon as its eighty seats were filled the engines were roaring into action proceeded down the runway ready for take-off.
This is another milestone for St. Helena and will be long remembered as the first aircraft to land with sixty passengers. It was said that the captain of the RJ-85 had no difficulty in landing the aircraft on runway 20 which is the end that is supposedly plagued by wind shear. Due to its design, this aircraft uses only a small portion of the runway for landing and take-offs and today was an outstanding performance by an Avero RJ 85.
Atlantic Star Airlines with Tronis jet also landed a similar type aircraft on St Helena last year without passengers. This also was a historic test flight that many onlookers enjoyed following the problematic flight by ComAir using the 737 .
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 Simons town drydock. 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”
Have you ever thought about visiting St Helena and wondered if you could enjoy any type of water sport activities during your stay, knowing that St Helena has one of the world safest oceans surrounding it.
The answer to the question is yes you can enjoy a variety of water sport activities during your visit.
The water temperature varies throughout the year, obviously during the summer months the temperatures are higher and a lot cooler during the winter.
The majority of Jet-skis are privately own but there are a few small tour operators now offering jet-ski hire and there are others interested parties that are preparing to setup Jet-ski rental along with other water sport possibilities.
Other small tour operators are also offering inshore fishing which is slowly becoming a highlight for visitors who would like to explore St Helena’s ocean paradise.
The video below shows a short preview of a locally organise water sport’s afternoon in Rupert’s Bay.
This is a fast growing pastime for the Island community.
If you were thinking of returning or going to live on St Helena you can purchase and ship a jet-ski to the Island, you will be expected to pay customs duties on its value but there is no registration required for using this type of watercraft on St Helena
The St Helena Airport sprung into life today as Excujet touched down at St Helena at approximately 13.20hrs .
The Aircrafts arrival attracted lots of onlookers on the observation deck at the Airport. The Restaurant facilities were available all afternoon and many enjoyed a chat whilst meeting family and friends.
The car park was full to capacity and one onlooker said that he had estimated around 200 people were present to see the arrival of the flight. Being a Sunday afternoon most people are off work.
Another Aircraft is also expected to arrive tomorrow, Monday. Good weather conditions prevailed for the landing today on 02 Runway with very little wind.
St Helena’s Police Chief Trevor Botting and his wife Sarah departed St Helena today on the RMS St Helena. Trevor who has been in post on Island for three and half years as the Chief of Police within the St Helena Police directorate will take up a new role as a Police commissioner in the Turks and Caicos after some well earnt leave in the UK.
Trevor who has implemented many new strategies within the police directorate spoke about the changes he had made on St Helena which can be heard in an interview here online about his time on St Helena.
Over the past few months the Islands water supply has diminished allot due to the fact that there hasn’t been any substantial rainfall. It appears ludicrous to have a very serious fresh water shortage for a population of just four thousand people living on St Helena. Unfortunately this is the reality and residents have barely enough to drink. The Island is only 47 sq miles and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. But this is not all, it is said to be one of the oldest land masses on earth and have been rained on for millions of years. You don’t need a degree to understand that surely some of that rain water is stored somewhere in the deep aquifers of the Island ready to be tapped, most of it is running out to sea.
Basil Read put their faith in one Saint Helenian who knew this and tapped that same source of underground water to supply water for the construction of the airport, just as well as we would still be wondering where we would get the water from to build the Airport. It was no way that the islands potable water supply would have sustained the volumes of water required for the construction of the airport. It was absurd for the water consultant to even suggest that it would.
St Helena has faced domestic water shortages for decades dating back to the 1800’s. Nowadays if you speak to anyone who has lived on St Helena they can all relate to a water shortage at some time or the other.
In a nutshell the development of the Island over the years has outgrown the historic water system and the sewerage system and the Government has been slow to react. St Helena depends solely on rainfall every year to top up its springs which supplies the Islands domestic water supply. Most of these springs originate high up on the mountains and only has a limited supply in the summer months. Historically in the drier months the centuries old records show that the incoming flows are always lower than the consumption.
The process for delivering domestic water to residents on St Helena is very simple. Water is collected from natural water springs and runoffs and stored in reservoirs. The water is then treated and distributed to the population as a potable water supply. The rainfall replenished the springs.
No rain no water.
The Connect Company now headed up by Barry Hubbard a UK expat engineer on Island who was the former manager of the then government’s electrical department
manages that water system. Recently a new reservoir and water mains have been implemented but the fundamentals are the same, the supply relies very much on the rain, no rain no water we die. Is the government doing anything one may ask, I suppose so, having resilience meetings speaking about it probably, but nothing is coming out in the public to let us know what their plans are if the current situations prevailed. The Island has seen a new reservoir recently been built just in case it rains. However, same fundamental, no rain no water we die. Nothing is coming out of Connect and the Governments resilience meetings except pointless advert saying we are short of water, we know that but what you are really doing about it, so as usual everyone is left to speculate!
A few questions are been asked from the residents of St Helena who incidentally are hoping for a commercial operational airport in the next few months despite not having enough water to drink.
Will the authorities divert the RMS to the nearest port to collect freshwater when we finally run out?
Will they bring in as an emergency desalination plant?
Will they simply tie up the RMS in Ruperts and use it to manufacture desalinated water for the island?
Will they pump water from the existing boreholes? Perhaps they are forced to do this now.
It has been mention that they (The Authorities) didn’t want it because it was brackish, a decision the government and the service provider must be regretting now.
Will they bring in a proper borehole drill and drill more boreholes close to existing catchment areas just like Basil Read did?
Probably not they would bring in a consultant hydrologist instead and make more reports to be shelved while we die of thirst. A frustrated Islander said “I don’t think the government realises the seriousness of the situation, drastic situations require measures, and a decision made” Only one saint who we all know did this and found water for the airport project when there was none. Dry Gut springs to mind. Drastic situations require drastic measures but it all worked out well in the end as I believe SHG is currently using that water now. Respect to the person who found this source of water, I wonder if the Government will tell us how much they are currently bowsering from it to save lives. It was said at the end of the airport project Basil Read offered this water to Connect St Helena and the government, they refused it on the grounds it was unfit. When no natural water falls from the skies, a good source of brackish water is ideal and can be treated to make potable water as an offset water supply in drought conditions.
Connect St Helena who manages the Islands utility services has urged residence to reduce water consumption immediately as the amount of water collected is less than 80 percent of that been used. Over the past few weeks water has been transported the old fashion way around the Island by using water trucks (bowsers). The bowsers are filling mostly from Jamestown and the borehole water point in Dry Gut and taken to HTH and Longwood. During this period both HTH and Longwood areas are deficient in water supplies, maybe Levelwood as well. Perhaps the Levelwood consumption rates have shot up due to the house building development there. More people appear to be choosing level wood to build their homes. Last week the water supply had to be completely shut off in the level wood area as the reservoir feeding the level wood area had become contaminated. An investigation is in progress to identify the cause of the contamination this situation has not help the water shortage situation.
Over the years the government secured funding and made several attempts to overcome drought periods by implementing several solutions to manage domestic water storage and distribution. In hindsight this apparently did nothing for our current situation. Residence lives depend on the next decision the government has to make and that is to rectify this problem once for all and quickly. One would hate to be in the officials’ shoes that have the responsibility for our very existence over the coming months if rain doesn’t come. Will the powers to be instruct the service provider to make more boreholes or desalinate seawater before it is too late?
It was also noted by another Islander who was contacted about the water situation he said no decision will be made as most decision makers/officials are leaving on overseas leave soon, so the situation will remain the same. The same frustrated Islander said the Government should stop dancing around and put some serious people and funds into extracting ground water or desalination processes to offset the dry periods. Desalinating seawater is easy as the island is surrounded by the unlimited supply. For just 4000 people in the dry period this would be a piece of cake. Desalination need not be expensive, you can use renewable energies to desalinate small volumes of water as every little helps. St Helena is ideal for renewable energy, lots of wind, lots of water, seawater that is, for hydro pumping and electricity generation and lots of sun and humidity for solar powered energy. The Islanders can’t afford to import water tanks to help our reliance on the island water supply as the cost of freight and customs duties prohibits this. Connect St Helena has also said that that there is a possibility that further restrictions will have to be put in place to help overcome the situation if consumption is not reduced. Why not tell us more on what they are doing to address the out of water situation, which is eminent if the anticipated rain doesn’t come yet?
The consumption of water could also increase as the festive season draws near which means more people visiting the Island and more increases in water consumption, even if you drink bottled water you still need to go to the toilet sometime to flush it away.
Did you know that water delivered to the domestic tap is charged at 97 pence a cubic metre?
A tradesman who orchestrated a real-life DIY SOS-style makeover for his cancer-stricken friend who originated from St Helena has launched a workwear range to continue his fundraising drive.
Addam Smith posted a heartfelt video on the Builders Talk Group that led to fellow tradesmen and people from across the world donating thousands of pounds to help his employee and friend Keith Ellick (from St Helena) after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The landscaper and former Grenadier Guard also organised a week-long revamp of Keith’s council-owned home, carried out by fellow tradesmen who travelled from across the country to help.
The project hit the headlines across the world, gaining celebrity support and earning the group the title ‘Band of Builders’.
What followed was a new aim to raise £100,000 so Addam and his fellow fundraisers can buy Keith’s home for him, securing his family’s future in the event of his death.
To achieve that goal, Addam is now taking things a step further and has launched a range of workwear to raise funds to #givekeithalift.
“When I started this, I just wanted to help my mate but the support from builders and members of the public across the country – even the world – has been incredible,” he said.
“Our aim now is that every building site will have Band of Builders gear so we can spread the word, get more support and raise the money Keith needs to buy his house and have peace of mind that his family will be okay when he’s gone.”
The Band of Builders workwear range includes t-shirts, hoodies, beanies, tape measures, mugs and hi-viz jackets. They can all be purchased through the website www.bandofbuilders.com.
Any profit made through the sales of products will go into the fund set up to help Keith Ellick.
But once the £100,000 target is reached, Addam plans to continue to raise funds to help other tradesmen who find themselves on hard times.
“We’ve seen what we can do to help one guy, we could do this to help people all over the place.
“Band of Builders has captured people’s imagination and shown just how much generosity there is out there, so we can really go somewhere with this.
“I want to create a community of people across the country. They might not know each other, but when they see someone else in Band of Builders gear they’ll know they’re all wearing it for the same reasons.”
Alongside the sale of workwear, the group have started a Facebook campaign to spread the word about their efforts, posting pictures of themselves with the slogan ‘I Lifted Keith’.
Last week’s rumours around town and on social media about Atlantic Star Airlines flying an aircraft to St Helena have come to fruition and the flight is now scheduled to arrive next week.
The Aircraft used by Atlantic Star is an Avro RJ100. The Journey will begin at Zurich in Switzerland then on to West Africa calling at Ascension Island for refuelling before the journey continues to St Helena.
This Aircraft which is owned by TronosJet, an Aircraft maintenance organisation based in Canada.
Tronosjet is well known in the aviation business and owns over 20 AVRO RJ/BAE 146 family aircraft and specializes in the aircraft maintenance and aircraft leasing.
The Avro RJ will be flown by specialist experienced pilots. Two Directors from Atlantic Star Airlines, along with other aviation specialists will also be on board.
Atlantic Star Airlines who have been committed to offering an Air Service to St Helena were schedule to make their first long haul journey from London to St Helena in May 2016 chartering a Boeing aircraft but was unable to deliver due to the airport not being commissioned for commercial operations.
Atlantic Star Airlines has always been committed to help find a solution to air access for St Helena.
The visit to the Island on this occasion is a non-commercial technical visit for Atlantic Star and TronosJet.
The crew will stay overnight on St Helena, accommodation and catering has been arranged to accommodate the visit before departing for South America.
The four engine turbo fan AVRO RJ100 ticks many boxes as a potential aircraft that could offer a service to the Island from Ascension and Cape Town to suit the constraints of the Islands airport.
The Aircraft type is owned by many civil organisations and private owners all over the world including RAF Queens Flight, AirFrance CityJet and Brussels Airlines and is renowned for its landing and take-off performance in identical runway lengths and conditions similar to St Helena.
Details of the exact accurate arrival times are not available yet however, it is hope that this along with other information will be released soon as the itinerary planning is completed. Captain Richard Brown from Atlantic Star is keen to meet with as many people on St Helena during his short stay, He is hoping to arrange a question and answer session in The Consulate Hotel on the evening of his arrival.
With no regular flights to St Helena and no influx of predicted tourist walking around town there is no stopping business in Jamestown for Island Images. Last week Island Images were hosting visitors on a private jet, This week they have opened branch number two of the popular Sandwich Bar in Jamestown. Island Images who offers several business services to the St Helena’s tourism industry has opened a second Sandwich Bar branch today at the market in Jamestown. The market in Jamestown which was recently renovated offers various size units that host several private local businesses.
The Sandwich Bar offers a range of fresh sandwiches, baguettes, buns with various fillings, a selection of salads, homemade cakes, panni’s, toasties, sushi and more. Derek and Linda Richards who owns the Sandwich Bar, offers an amazing service unlike other takeaway facilities on Island, The Sandwich bar opens 6 days a week and offers a daily menu to their customers direct to their email inbox every day and also online or you can dial-a-Sandwich. This service works for us and the customer said Derek as people can order ahead of time and this drives down the wait time for customers on the go. Island Images also offers dining facilities with a difference for events and takeaway parties, along with Travel and Tour services for anyone visiting St Helena, information about services offered can be found on their website. If you have used the service at the Sandwich bar please feel free to leave your feedback at the bottom of their listed business here on the Islands business directory.