MS Seaventure's visit to Tristan provides passage north

Administrator's visit to St Helena and Ascension Island

Report and photographs from Tristan da Cunha's Administrator Philip Kendall

The MS Seaventure arriving at Tristan on 29th March 2024 viewed from the Residency garden.

Nearly seven months have now passed since we first arrived on Tristan and although the time has flown by, Louise and I felt it was time to visit family and recharge the batteries.

Looking at the options open to us, we spotted an excellent opportunity to visit St Helena and Ascension on the way by boarding the Seaventure during her visit to Tristan. This also saved valuable spaces on the heavily oversubscribed vessels to Cape Town.

MS Seaventure at anchor off Tristan on 30th March

On the bridge of the Seaventure on 30th March, left to right: Chief Islander James Glass, Louise Kendall, Captain of MV Seaventure and Administrator Philip Kendall, after exchanging ship and island plaques

We boarded the Seaventure and went through the usual plaque exchange with the Captain before settling into our cabin. As the vessel was in Tristan for a couple of days, I was able to join in on the zodiac cruises around Nightingale and Inaccessible islands. The Polar Latitudes expedition team and the passengers were impressed by the abundance of wildlife coupled with the excellent weather, which made their polar expedition gear somewhat redundant!

Seaventure Zodiac RIB approaching Nightingale Island on 31st March

Seaventure Zodiac RIB close in by Waterfall Beach on Inacessible Island on 31st March.

After we set sail for St Helena, Louise and I got to know the passengers and crew and swapped tales of life on Tristan with their stories of cruising the Antarctic. I was also given the chance to make a presentation to everyone on the ship about the history and geography of Tristan, which was followed by a lengthy but enjoyable Q&A.

Philip and Louise Kendall aboard MS Seaventure heading for St Helena.

Tristan lobster has pride of place at a Seaventure deck barbeque

On arrival at St Helena, we were met by Tasha, the Deputy Governor and I was whisked off to a series of meetings, whilst Louise explored Jamestown. My meetings gave me a chance to understand better St Helena as well as to explore areas of potential collaboration between our two islands. Louise and I met up again for a wonderful lunch with the Governor and invited guests at Plantation House after which I had more meetings and Louise went off for her first haircut in seven months!

On the St Helena Waterfront on 5th April, Left to Right:
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Governor Nigel Phillips, Emma Phillips, Philip Kendall and Louise Kendall.

The evening of our first day ended with drinks with Nigel down on the waterfront in Jamestown before Louise and I returned to the ship.

Philip alongside the famous Jonathan on the lawns in front of Plantation House on 6th April.

Early the following morning, we went back on land and were taken to Wranghams coffee plantation where Neil and Debbie grow and roast the most amazing St Helena Coffee - truly delicious! We then went back to Plantation House for a private audience with Jonathan the tortoise, the world's oldest living land animal at 191 years of age. A true privilege to have met him, and judging by the response on social media, he's a very effective soft power ambassador!

The visit to St Helena also enabled Philip Kendall to meet Alex Mitham who served as Tristan Administrator 2013-2016, went on to work on the Falkland Islands and is now working for the St Helena Government.
In the photo above Philip is pictured alongside Alex who is receiving a parcel
(for Alex and others on St Helena who might enjoy them) containing Tristan lobster.

Following an extremely welcome St Helena gin and tonic with Nigel and Emma, we headed off with Tasha to visit the Napoleonic sites of St Helena including Longwood House and his now empty tomb.

Philip contemplates a climb of Jamestown's famous Jacob's Ladder

Philip and Louise prior to having lunch in Plantation House, residence of the Governor

There was just time to buy a couple of things in Jamestown, including some St Helena gin, before we bade our farewells and re-boarded the Seaventure, bound for Ascension.

En route, I was asked to make another presentation on our recent visit to Gough, which I happily did. The 65+ photos and videos were very well received and the audience politely laughed in the right places.

Philip aboard one of the Seaventure RIBs that got close to the chief Ascension seabird nesting site
aptly named Boatswain Bird Island with it's white appearance entirely due to ample seabird guano.

On arrival at Ascension, although we were unable to land, we did have another amazing zodiac tour of the coastline and of Boatswain Bird Island. The bird life on Ascension is totally different to what we see on Tristan. Albatrosses, Terns and Penguins are replaced by Frigatebirds, Boobies and Tropicbirds in vast numbers. A wonderful sight. I exchanged greetings (digitally) with the Acting Administrator on Ascension before sailing off towards Cape Verde for a spot of leave.

See also main report of the Seaventure's Tristan visit: Visit of the Cruise Ship MS Seaventure to Tristan da Cunha