Remote St Helena

It’s the tiny white speck in the south Atlantic.

Few places on this planet become more remote over time, but St Helena has.  In 1816, when Napoleon was exiled there, as many as a thousand ships a year called at the island.  Back then, before the Suez Canal, it was a stopover for ships from China, India and east Africa rounding the Southern Cape on their way to or from Europe.  Now, aside from the occasional private yacht, pretty much only the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena comes to visit.  There is no airport or landing strip on the island, although the British, whose territory St Helena is, keep promising to build one.

On May 11th, after six days in Cape Town, South Africa, we’ll board the RMS St Helena for the five-day sea voyage to St Helena.  A combination cargo and passenger ship built specifically for this job, it’s the island’s lifeline.  You want a book from Amazon?  A part for your broken-down car? The grocery store is out of paper towels, washing detergent, corn flakes?  No worries—the ship will be here in two weeks or maybe four.  That’s hard for those of us who expect overnight delivery to imagine.

I’m eager to learn from the “Saints” themselves how they manage to thrive.




  • May 2, 2011 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful blog, Margaret. I love the clean lines, gorgeous pictures…and the topic is exciting and very interesting.

    Can’t wait to read your dispatches from your upcoming trip. Bon voyage!!

  • mrodenberg
    May 2, 2011 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Raima. I’ll put up new entries from the trip when Internet’s available. The RMS St Helena doesn’t offer Internet or email to its passengers so there will at least two five-day periods when I’m out of touch. Hope you’ll enjoy the photos and “dispatches” that I do get out.

  • David Helfinstein
    May 4, 2011 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Love the blog. Especially the map – this was really helpful in talking to the kids about how remote this island is!! I can’t believe it will take 5 days to get there! How long will you stay once you are there?

    Have an awesome time – we will miss you, but look forward to hearing about all the details!

  • mrodenberg
    May 4, 2011 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, David. St Helena is in an unbelievably remote location–even for crazy travelers like us. We’ll stay there for nine days, because that’s how long it takes for the ship to go to Ascension Island and return to pick us up. That’s one boat departure you really don’t want to miss!

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