The official website of Tristan da Cunha has just made public the shipping schedule for the rest of the year. Included in this final update are the departure and arrival times of the research vessel I will be on, the S. A. Agulhas II:
Island authorities had informed me of these dates almost two months ago and I took a chance booking my flight to Cape Town based on this tentative information. Fortunately the dates were exactly as forecast and I will be departing from Cape Town on 5 September with estimated arrival at Tristan five days later. The scheduled departure from Tristan is 5 October with estimated arrival in Cape Town on 10 October. I have given myself five extra days in Cape Town before my flight home to Toronto in the event that the return voyage takes longer than expected. It would not be unheard of to spend an extra two or three days at sea either going to Tristan or coming back. When I have a return flight already booked, it’s a good idea to have several extra days in case there are any delays at sea.
The main reason I chose to book passage aboard the S. A. Agulhas II is that it is the only ship going to Tristan that guarantees its passengers actually land on the island. How so? It has a helicopter on board, and flies the passengers to the island. Other ships, including visiting cruise ships, sometimes aren’t as lucky. The link below tells the unfortunate story of two cruise ships that could not land any of its passengers on Tristan because of the extremely rough ocean conditions. Imagine if you were aboard one of those ships, excited to finally see Tristan da Cunha with your own eyes, only to be told by the captain that ocean conditions precluded a landing. I would be in tears, having come all that way, only to see Tristan from afar:
Yet take a look at the MV Hanseatic and how it is being tossed around by the rough south Atlantic:
as well as the choppy conditions surrounding the Silver Explorer:
Aside from taking overnight cruises from Finland to Sweden and from Finland to Estonia, which can hardly count since the passages were so calm, I have never been on such open and rough waters, and I must take precautions in the event of seasickness. I’m dreading the idea of possibly spending as long as a week throwing up my guts. Time to start researching anti-nausea medication and how soon before boarding I need to be on it.