27-Sep-2005 -- After having visited 37S 13W, where we have learned something about the Tristan da Cunha group and Tristan Island itself, and after our unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to going ashore due to unfavourable weather, we could do nothing else than to proceed on our track to Cape Town. Of course I have spoken to my friends on Tristan Island by radio, and everything is going well there.
For radio amateurs it might be of interest that an active HAM is residing on Tristan Island: Andy/ZD9BV, and he is on air every day at 08:00z on frequency 14240 kHz. Maybe some readers are radio amateurs as well and wish to establish contact. A QSL-card from Tristan da Cunha is certainly something very desirable.
Well, rendering this visit to 13S 12W successful brings me into difficulties. It is not the position, which I hit with satisfactory accuracy. It is not that I have not been there, see me here off Edinburgh Of The Seven Seas, and on our radar screen everything is alright as well. It is rather the "photos in minimum two directions" rule. :-(
One direction is easy. To WSW we see Tristan Island. And then there is nothing else around in any direction, except the open sea. Okay, lets look towards East, and let us imagine that just only exactly 1,471 nautical miles (2,742 km) ahead there is Cape Town. :-) Tristan Island is called the "most remote inhabited island in the world", and indeed no inhabited place in the world is so far from another inhabited one than Tristan is.
If I recall properly, during my previous visit to 37S 13W we have already learned something about Tristan's history until 1961, and now comes the most significant event in this island's remarkable history:
On 6 August 1961, a series of localized earth tremors started. The tremors culminated two months later, on 8 and 9 October, with the upsurge or extrusion of a tholoid of solid incandescent lava from a side crater. A plug of solid rock formed soon, red-hot beneath the surface, about 30 metres in height. On the arrival of HMS "Leopard", on 13 October, the plug was already 73 m in height. Photographs taken by another ship, the "Tristania", on 20 October, showed the tholoid about 120 m in height. By 27 October, the canning factory had disappeared beneath a mass of lava. On 6 December 1961, the Captain of the SS "Ashbank" reported that the volcano was erupting violently and that lava was visible at night at a long distance. By October 1962, the lava field had extended up to about 600 m seaward beyond the original coastline.
Before this eruption it had been assumed that the volcano was extinct, and when it occurred the community of Tristan Island took refuge on Nightingale Island whence they were rescued by the Dutch ship "Tijsadane" and eventually arrived for temporary refuge in England. But the Tristanians did not become happy in England. Too much hectic, too much anonymity, too much rush. British Government had the intention not to allow settlement on Tristan Island again, but the islanders wished so strongly to return that finally they were repatriated in 1963.
Having a look on the scenery of the 1961 eruption gives us still today a good impression of what had happened in these days. On the right side is the side crater which erupted, and left of it we see the extensive lava field. Roses are now growing on the lava, once red hot glowing and a serious threat.
Tristan da Cunha is certainly well known to philatelists, too. Here we see the Post Office. And when coming to Tristan da Cunha, as everywhere else, you have to deal properly with border formalities. Here our passports get stamped by the immigration officer and his secretary.
Information about Tristan da Cunha Group obtained partly from Nautical Publication Nr. 2, Africa Pilot, Vol II, 14th
ed. 2004, Hydrographer of the Navy, Taunton, England.