On that theme of communication; one of the best things about Tristan is that calls to the UK are very cheap and clear. Amazingly you just dial a London code (0203) from the UK to get through to the island. It has been great to be able to make long calls home.
What is not so good is internet access. It’s so slow that the other end gives up waiting. The fastest I’ve seen is 400 bytes/sec. So I’ve not been able to transfer money to the island by internet banking or access some e-mail accounts. Fortunately my Kew e-mail address does work if slowly but I’m really struggling to upload blogs. It took an hour to get my anti-virus updates the other day. So most folk don’t have up to date anti-virus protection and consequently viruses are rife on the island.
The working day for all Tristans starts early at 6.30am and finishes at 2.30pm and those early starts have been hard for me after nine disturbed nights on the Baltic Trader. All work departments, offices and the shop are open during these times only. Incidentally this compounds the internet problem as you can only access e-mail at work or at the internet cafe during working hours – there is no internet access from private houses.
There is an air of excitement on the island just now with all these ships visiting within two weeks. As well as the Baltic Trader, the SA Agulhas has now returned to pick up the passengers who have been visiting Tristan over the last three weeks whilst the ship went down to Gough with the annual Met station relief. They are due to go off this morning by helicopter so weather and swell are less important considerations. The Agulhas can carry a lot of passengers and every available B&B and self catering cottage is occupied by visiting tourists, diplomats, scientists and engineers. Because of this there have been a lot of farewell parties and drinks this week and I’ve been out most nights.And finally the MV Edinburgh is due to arrive this weekend variously collecting or delivering more passengers, mail and diesel fuel.
The Baltic Trader is still sheltering in the lea of the island waiting for the swell to go down. It’s never been less than 3 metres since I arrived and we’ve had some amazing storms already. But I think that’s just normal. Thankfully I took a huge bag on as cabin luggage so I’m not too stuck for the essentials but it will be nice to be re-united with all my stuff. The folk who were due to return on it will probably miss their connecting flights out of Cape Town because the delay in departing. Interestingly one of the passengers on board the Baltic Trader, a BBC journalist and manager of BBC Radio Solent, Chris Carnegie has just done a piece for “From Our Own Correspondent” on Radio 4 which you can listen again to (but sadly which we can’t).