Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Full Day at Pitcairn Island

We dropped anchor at 10am local time. We are now officially on Pacific Time, 8 hours behind UTC.

We had called ahead on VHF channel 16 and made contact with Dave Brown, whom we'd been talking with on the Ham Radio for a couple of weeks. And we also talked to Brenda, who is in charge of handling the 'formalities' at Pitcairn.

Soon after we had the anchor down, Brenda and Geoff, the local policeman, were alongside in their 'canoe'. This turned out to be a good sized skiff with an outboard motor on it. We were ready for them, and quickly jumped aboard. Even in this benign weather period, there is a pretty good roll in the anchorage, so the skiffs don't tarry alongside very long.

They brought us in to the landing area, through a swell that could become a surf zone when the waves get higher. There is a quayside, and then they pull the boats up a long ramp to get them above the tidal zone. (pictures to follow later).

Ashore, we were met by the young guy responsible for the Agricultural inspection. We had to fill out a short questionaire, and he inspected the apples we brought ashore, but otherwise this was pretty painless.

Then Geoff and Brenda loaded us and the crew from Zephyrus, who had arrived the night before, onto their 'quads' and whisked us up to Brenda's house to complete the paperwork. The main mode of transportation on Pitcairn is a 'quad'--the 4-wheeled ATV. They are perfect for the dirt roads and hill country at Pitcairn. Everyone has a platform on the back that will accommodate 2 passengers (hanging on for dear life).

Brenda and Mike Christian's house is up on a hill overlooking Bounty Bay. They have a killer view, and today was a beautiful sunny day. The sea below was crystal clear and very tranquil. While Brenda fed us hot bread fresh out of her oven, and lathered with Pitcairn honey, we filled out paperwork, got our passports stamped, and got a briefing on all the things to do on the island. She made arrangements for us to go to Betty's Cafe for lunch (you must call ahead).

The islanders were all abuzz with the fact that there were 5 sailboats at one time in the bay. Someone said they thought that was a record! (in addition to us and Visions of Johanna, we also had the British boat Zephyrus and the Canadians on Pursuit IV, and a charter sailboat out from Mangareva named Southern Cross.

While down on the wharf, Bill from Visions introduced us to Bruce, who is the doctor on the island. Bruce is an Australian who has contracted for a year to be the resident doctor. Bruce has only been at Pitcairn for a month, but is already in love with the island. The islanders provide the visiting doctor with a house and 2 quads, and a nice clinic from which to operate.

Bruce had kindly offered to show us a few places on his quad after lunch. So we climbed onto the back and roared off up into the hills. We stopped at Ship Lookout and took pictures of the sailboats in Bounty Bay. We stopped at 'Down Rope', which, after a steep hike down the hillside, it's possible to see some ancient Polynesian rock carvings. We didn't actually hike down, but we did take a picture down the hill. And then we went to St. Paul's Pool, where we hiked down to the pool and watched the southerly swell crash and spill over into the pool.

Everywhere we went, there was lush vegetation and absolutely stunning views of the island and the ocean. It felt like you could see 100 miles in any direction.

After our tour, Bruce dropped us off at the town square about 4:30 pm. Brenda had arranged for the Post Office and the Museum to be open for an hour or so, just for us. We bought a fantastic array of Pitcairn stamps at the Post Office (about $60 worth, a set for us and one for Infini--just in case they are unable to get to the Post Office). And then we went into the little museum. It was small, but full of fascinating bits of Pitcairn history.

We lucked out in being at Pitcairn when the islanders were having their about-every-3-weeks Friday night social get-together. It's a big potluck in the town square, and just about everyone on the island attends. For this occasion, a traveling Christian musician from India named Benny Prasad was going to perform in the church after supper. We had a really nice typical potluck supper, and got to just sit and chat with many of the islanders.

Benny's story is that God told him that he was going to send him to every sovereign country in the world to play music and spread the word of God. He is only 15 countries short of visiting every country in the world. It's an amazing story and he's a very interesting young man. You can read more about Benny at

Somewhere between the potluck and Benny's performance, we went with Dave (VP6DB) up to his house and his ham shack, and did a quick check-in with the Pacific Seafarer's Net, to confirm our 'safe arrival' at Pitcairn.

We really enjoyed listening to Benny on his unique 'bongo guitar' in the church.--Nice acoustical guitar music, with a few of Benny's stories about his travels interspersed. Then we went with Dave and the other cruisers down to Christian's Cafe, a nice cafe/bar, where we had a couple of beers. By this time, Dave and I were absolutely dead on our feet, so we begged off and got Dave and Brenda to ferry us back to the boat.

What a full day! What an amazing day! I think we've met fully half of the islanders. What a friendly and interesting bunch of people. We could easily spend a couple of weeks here, if there was a safe anchorage to do so. I am so sad that weather will force us away before we've really had time to enjoy the island fully.

Tomorrow, we expect Infini to arrive early in the morning--we talked to them tonight and they were only 50 miles out. We hope to get a full day ashore tomorrow and do some more exploring. But the swell is expected to pick up starting tomorrow afternoon--so we're not sure how long after that we'll be able to stay.
At 4/3/2010 6:35 AM (utc) our position was 25°03.98'S 130°05.69'W

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