Saint Helena Island Info: All about St Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean • Zzyzx



Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere

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A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

This page is in indexes: Island History Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland History, Island Place Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland Place, Island People Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland People, Island ACTIVITY Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland Activity, Island Structures Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland Structures, Island Nature Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland Nature, Island Detail Saint Helena Island Info ZzyzxIsland Detail

Zzyzx Saint Helena Island Info

Below: The shortest and longest daysMystery Helicopter - Resolved!Skandi Admiral: Supplying passing shipsOld photographsAn End to Isolation

Why this page is called ‘Zzyzx’

Zzyzx is the last word that appears in the online dictionary ‘Wiktionary’. It is actually a place name in California and various other things. It seemed a more interesting name than ‘Sundry’ or ‘Miscellaneous’. We could have called it ‘ort’, meaning a small scrap of food left after a meal is completed, but we didn’t.

It should be noted that the contents of this page may be fluid. At the time we add an item here it may not fit in anywhere else, but as Saint Helena Island Info continues to develop, we may find a better place for it and thus remove it from here. So if this page is empty please don’t contact us!

The shortest and longest days 

The Wikipedia inclusion on our On This Day page on 21st June 2018 prompted the following email:

Here’s a nerdy subject!

Your page ‘On this day’ for June 21st makes an embedded reference to the Solstice page of Wikipedia. One would hope that that was definitive enough, but it is not (an issue I have been grappling with for a long time). The problem is, the authors are well in the Northern Hemisphere (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and what they say is all well and good for such locations. For analogous locations in the Southern Hemisphere, the terms ‘Summer’ and ‘Winter’ need only be interchanged. But we are located within the tropics and things are different there (here).

It is all to do with solar system mechanics. The basic model (which underpins the general preconception as per Wiki) is that the sun’s highest point goes up and down in the sky during the seasons. All else being ignored, if you were to plot the sun’s highest point along a time axis covering a year, it should resemble a sine wave, and the approximations are good enough for most applications. The closer you are to a tropic, the higher the sun’s highest point (altitude) will reach (the amplitude of the sine wave). The Summer Solstice is then defined as the day on which the sun reaches its highest point.

On a tropic, the highest point is the zenith (that is pretty much what defines the tropic). What happens between the tropics though? For such locations as ours, the sun’s wandering up the sky actually overshoots - during the year, the highest reach of the sun gets higher and higher in the north and then....actually moves over to the south of us! Briefly. Then it returns to the north and declines again into winter.

Again, all else being ignored, we should have two longest days and two shortest days (the two spanning the relevant solstices by a few days in each case). But this is not quite what happens. And the reason that it does not happen like this is the following:

  • The Earth’s orbit around the sun is not circular, but elliptical, and

  • The Earth’s axes of rotation (which is about 23.4 degrees to the perpendicular to the plane of the Earth’s orbit) is not aligned with either of the major axes of the orbit.

What this means is that the graph of the sun’s highest points does a strange wobble around the solstices and the length of the day graph is somewhat unexpected. For 2018, on St.Helena, the Shortest day (between sunrise and sunset) occurs on 13th and 14th June, then again on 17th - 24th June, and then again on 26th - 28th June. The Longest days are similarly spread out (17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd and 25th December).

Weird eh?

Have a look at The graph of sunrise and sunset times is apparently bizarre - but it explains why the day length over the year (the distance between the two wavy lines) is not what you’d simplistically expect.

Editor’s Note: Thanks, Stuart, for that fascinating and comprehensive explanation!

Mystery Helicopter - Resolved! 

Some time ago we posted as below. We are grateful to all the contributors (further below) but are pleased to annonce that the mystery has now been resolved. John Coyle contacted us with more information about his photo, as follows:

The photo was taken by me in either 1968 or 1969, when I believe HMS Zulu was in the bay. I am also sending you a better quality scan!

That’s good enough for us and we now consider the mystery resolved.

Our original query

We have seen the image below, thought to date from the early 1960s, of a Navy helicopter landing on the lawn of Plantation House. We are curious to know what ship launched it and when it was visiting. If you can help, please contact us.

Mystery helicopter Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Mystery helicopter{a}


We hreceived three replies:

  1. My guess is that it’s from HMS Leopard or HMS Lynx, which visited St Helena together 15-17th August 1959 (see I remember the RM Band concert.
  2. Firstly, it appears HMS Leopard and HMS Lynx were Leopard class Frigates, which didn’t have a flight deck, so couldn’t have launched this helicopter. The helicopter is a Westland Wasp anti-submarine helicopter. A helicopter with large number 442 and airframe number XT439 is registered to HMS Zulu. The website, gives more detail on Westland Wasp XT439. It was in service from 13th December 1965 to 25th March 1986. It was known to have served with 845 Naval Air Squadron; and with 829 NAS on board the frigates HMS Ajax (F114), HMS Zulu (F124) and HMS Rhyl (F129), and possibly others. So we know which helicopter airframe it is, we just don’t know which year or which ship it was from. From photos of Wasps, the paint colour for the numbers seemed to change from white to black in about 1983 (approximately June). XT439 was delivered in 1965, so the photo is between 1965 and probably about 1983.
  3. I looked up XT439 Westland wasp C/N f.9609 on the Helicopter Database and the 442 call sign was only used between Aug 1977 until c Jul 1979, whilst it was on board HMS Zulu. On 5th Sept 1977 HMS Zulu departed Her majesty’s Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth as part of Task Group 317.6 for a 7½ month Australia and Far East group deployment, led by HMS Tiger. They would have travelled down the west coast of Africa before going around the Cape before heading for Australia. With that in mind it would have been between 5th Sept 1977 and 21st April 1978 as per the HMS Zulu’s records.

Skandi Admiral: Supplying passing ships 

In February2016 this website was contacted by the Vessel Superintendent of the tug Skandi Admiral with an unusual request. The message said the tug and payload would be passing St Helena at the end of February and could we put them in touch with an island merchant who could provide them with some essential supplies?

Naturally we were keen to help. We emailed the likely local merchants and Thorpe’s responded. Negotiations then proceeded between Thorpe’s and the Skandi Admiral, as a result of which a sizeable bag of supplies was taken out to the tug as it passed and winched aboard.

We’re glad to have helped!

Scandi Admiral and payload Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Scandi Admiral and payload

Approaching the Scandi Admiral Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Approaching the Scandi Admiral

Supplies being winched aboard Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Supplies being winched aboard

Old photographs 

Problem with mynah birds Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
We caption this picture: Clearly mynah birds were a problem in the ‘before days’ too.

Here are a few more for interest or amusement:

Jamestown school 1906 Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
Jamestown school, 1906

George Singer memorial St. James’ Church Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx
George Singer memorial, St. James’ Church


An End to Isolation 

Broadcast on New Hampshire Public Radio, 21st July 2015{1}

The tiny island of Saint Helena remains one of the most inaccessible places on earth, but that is about to change as a British government-funded airport opens in the spring of 2016. Filmmaker Dieter Deswarte made two short films about life on the island for the BBC and he’s currently working on a feature-length documentary about life on the island.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Zzyzx

Laugh at funny Zzyzx humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


{a} John Coyle


{1} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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