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Stranded sailors bring new life to St Helena

Finding the positives in the COVID pandemic can be difficult but for one group of St Helena sailors, at least, it gave a chance to reinvigorate their Yacht Club

A group of cruising sailors stranded by the COVID pandemic in the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena have reinvigorated the island community – and the local sailing club, the tiny St Helena Yacht Club.

The club’s commodore, Stephen Coates, told cruising website noonsite.com that the handful of yachts that usually visit between October and April were boosted as cruisers were forced to stay and joined by others following behind. Over 20 remained, many for the whole year. “The yacht club has flourished as a result,” he said.

“As their itchy feet turned to looking for jobs, the island has inherited a new task force. Many have held down jobs for a number of months, working in shops, bars and more specialised work including architectural planning.

“I was fortunate to benefit from an electrician with marine spares on board doing the wiring of my Colin Archer Finisterre. More recently we have seen one of our Hobie Cats fixed up and back in the water, which has been on the list of jobs to do for a long time.”

The St Helena Yacht Club also got a boost to its normal racing programme. “There are only four functional yachts that are resident here currently and so seeing more than one or two yachts out sailing on the water has been wonderful to see,” said Coates.

St Helena, with a population of 5,000, is a British overseas territory and one of the most remote islands in the world. There is only one tenable bay for yachts, which has a (often rolly) mooring field, and dinghy landings at the pier can be a sporting business in rough conditions.


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