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Sea and Sunsets on Ascension Island

The Sea and blow holes

The sea around Ascension Island is not to be trifled with, the breakers being of a nasty type called "dumpers", which are apparently unsuited to all life forms apart from sand-eaters, turtles and crabs.

Given that some of the waves have traveled over two thousand miles to get here, that is hardly surprising. During the southern winters storms around the Falklands can produce heavy swells some 4 to 6 days later around the island.

To a British mind the word Atlantic and the picture on the left conjure up thoughts of the sea being cold, but as Ascension is just off the equator the opposite isf definitely the case !

The island has a number of blow holes of which this one is probably the largest. It is several hundred yards along the coast from the Ariane tracking station. The spray visible in the picture is the blow hole almost at the end of a cycle. The fine spray preceding this goes much higher, and so gets blown further along the beach, becoming a major source of corrosion at the Ariane site for both satellite dishes and also Landrovers! When the original survey was done for the Ariane site, the wind was not from the prevailing direction and so the blow hole was much more subdued.

The blowholes are created when the sea penetrates weaknesses in the lava, eventually creating a small cavern in the lava. Over time the cavern enlarges and its roof thins until a hole in the roof is formed creating a blowhole as shown in the picture on the right.

Eventually the roof of the cavern collapses and results in a swimming pool sized feature such as the one in the picture below.

"Paddy" Hobson

Jump Paddy, Jump !

Whereas most normal dogs understand words like sit, stay and heel, Paddy's vocabulary has such words as JUMP ! and SHAKE !

The pool Paddy is jumping into is a sort of natural Jacuzzi, with the sea water entering and leaving via a big underwater tunnel to the sea. Using this is only recommended on days when the swell is very quiet. Moreover at the time of our visit the pool contained a large amount of very fine shingle, so that one's swimming trunks suddenly became very full of shingle and then gravity did the rest on coming out of the water if one was not careful!

Paddy spent the first few months of his life in the UK with the Smith family prior to traveling to Ascension by sea. His place in the Smith household has been replaced by Scruffy who, unlike Paddy, hates water and the sea.

Super Surf

Long beach is just along from Georgetown. At times it can look very attractive, but as the picture on the right shows, this is not a place to even thinking about swimming from. This picture was taken on a day when there was very little swell.

Amazingly, this is one of the beaches where the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, usually around the time of a full moon. For more information on Turtles see the links page.

One of the surprises of Ascension is that sand is yellow and not the black sort one associates with volcanic islands such as the Canary islands.


Surf and Sunset

A typical end to an Ascension Island day.

Being almost on the equator, the sun sets very quickly so one only gets a short window each day in which to take sunset pictures with the sun low on the horizon.

Once night falls, the stars seem remarkably bright on a cloudless night. No doubt due to the minimal amount of pollution and the low level of street lights etc on the island.

1st Ascension Island Scout group enjoy the facilities at Comfortless Cove. Although this looks very idyllic, there is a length of rope across the entrance to the cove to denote the limit of safe swimming. For details of the Groups 1996 Europe trip see the links page.

The cove is also the place where the first submarine telegraph cable came ashore in 1899 connecting the UK and South Africa via the Cape Verde islands to the North and St Helena to the south.

Johnny Hobson 2001


Picture of Johnny Hobson and Paddy taken with an Olympus digital camera during Christmas morning 2001 at Long Beach, and sent shortly afterwards to various friends in colder northern climates via an email with a subject of "Eat your heart out!"