Jamestown, Saint Helena

Dinner With Captain Mercer

It was either luck of the draw or Cheryl’s beauty - seating at the Captain’s dinner is assigned, & she ended up on his immediate left. As her date for the evening, I was there too! We very much enjoyed our time with him - he’s such a gentleman, and so very nice & sincere. I asked him several questions about the book he wrote last year, and I told him it has a permanent place on our coffee table back home. We also talked at great length about conditions in Mozambique and he too was mesmerized by what he saw. A great evening of interesting conversation, superb wine, & elegant cuisine.


We’ve been at sea for two days & nights, and now approaching Jamestown, St. Helena – it’s a very tiny island around 1,200 miles west/northwest of Walvis Bay – population 6,000 – the entire island is 47 square miles, & much the same as Easter & Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, it is also noted as being one of the world’s most isolated places. Their claim to fame is Napoleon – he died here in 1821. Those are the two reasons for our stop here – it’s on several peoples’ bucket list – certainly not ours, but since we’re going, we’ll write it down and scratch it off! We’re scheduled to anchor around 10:00 – more after our brief stop.


Meanwhile, we dropped about 200 passengers in Cape Town so we’re now sailing with 900+. There’s a nasty cold and sore throat floating around the ship – we’re fine so far. In fact, our health has been perfect since we left, unlike last year. Several more cases of broken arms & wrists – folks just not paying attention on stairs or when the seas get rough. One of our good friends we play cards with developed a severe case of hiccups after we left Durbin – hadn’t slept in four days – the doctor on-board recommended he return to California for treatment by his personal physician – he got off in Cape Town & flew to Sacramento – a 27-hour trip we understand. He’s doing much better now, and we continue to play cards with his wife every day. Speaking of cards…Cheryl has had an incredible streak of good luck over the past few days, and now leads our ongoing Rummy game 27 – 23! She’s smiling these days!


We’ve talked a lot about doing volunteer work in Africa, particularly in Namibia. There’s a large orphanage in the area in need of all kinds of help. Last night we were talking with some friends and they too are considering – both are retried - one is a Pediatrician, the other an Ophthalmologist. The girl’s choirs from the orphanage were brought on-board to sing for us just before we left – 35 precious, homeless girls – so touching! The passengers got together & donated over $8,000. Many had never seen the ocean before – most had never been on a cruise ship – their little eyes were like big saucers. They were turned loose in one of the buffet restaurants for several hours and as you can imagine, the line for hamburgers, fries, ice cream, & cookies was quite steady! Only downside of their visit – they were allowed to swim in one of the pools, and now we have Pink Eye infecting passengers. At any rate, the Pediatrician has already made contact with the orphanage in terms of volunteer work and will keep us posted. We’re really torn with the idea – we’d absolutely LOVE to help, but we don’t spend nearly enough time as it is with our own kids, grandkids, & other close relatives. Cheryl and I are also committed to the Blue Stars Drum Corps – what would happen with our volunteer work with them? As I wrestle with the overall pros & cons, doing volunteer work in Africa for a short time period would be extremely rewarding – I think we could truly make a big difference in the lives of many young children, but there’s so much to consider – we just need more information at this point. We’ll see what happens.


More on Jamestown after our visit today.