Flicking through a recently copy of Wanderlust, I read that the RMS St Helena has set sail for the final time from Portland in the UK. Now, if you didn’t know, St Helena was the regular mail and cargo lifeline for the islands of St Helena and Ascension which still survived alongside the fairly regular RAF flights to the latter.
Several years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time on the tiny, volcanic speck that is Ascension filming green turtles (amongst other things), and experienced the buzz of the ship coming into port.
Not only did the mail and vital supplies get delivered, but most importantly bacon was on the menu at the (only) hotel for at least a week afterwards.
Aberdeen-built and entering service in 1990, RMS St Helena also carries passengers (128 of them) and I’ve always been rather taken by the prospect of slow-travel to the genuinely remote places on the planet. I’ll admit the prospect of a cruise makes my blood run cold, but there is something rather alluring about barrelling across the Atlantic on a vessel, hitching a lift on a vessel that is designed for something other than catering the every whim of the beige-clad retired. True, RMS St Helena is a fully kitted out, cruise ship of sorts – it has a swimming pool and, from the website, suffle board – but you get my drift.
In an era where anyone can jump on a plane and few places feel that remote any more, it’s a shame that you have to go to Cape Town to experience a more interesting way to travel to a truly remarkable island.
Mind you, it’s nothing compared to the long-held ambition I’ve had to take a freight ship somewhere in the globe. That really is some fantastically extreme hitch-hiking….