Approaching Pitcairn Island
The morning of Tuesday 7th February dawned and Paul and I were awake from 5:00am. Every day on the Saga Ruby cruise ship we had been putting our clocks back by an hour, so our sleeping rhythms were confused. At 5:30 am we were up walking the deck in an anti-clock wise direction. Seven laps of the ship equal a mile. It’s a great way to walk and talk and meet your fellow passengers. Paul walked 40 laps which was 6 plus miles. It was extremely windy and heavy cloud kept obscuring the stars and moon. At that time of the morning it is cool and lots of passengers take advantage of the circuit to keep their fitness up. The planet Venus was directly ahead and Jupiter was slightly to the starboard side. We knew it was only a matter of time before Pitcairn would show up on the horizon. Even though we knew we were still seven hours away from Pitcairn we were hoping for an early glimpse.
We had mixed feelings and walking was a good way to help dissipate those feelings of anxiety. My anxieties centred on the transition we would have to make from the cruise ship and onto the long boat. Every lap we walked, I passed the huge rope ladder. I had inspected it and found it to be extremely heavy and strong. It was wound up into a huge cylinder shape on the deck and covered with heavy duty covers. I couldn’t imagine how this would be lifted and hooked over the side of the deck. Was there a machine that would lift such a massive piece of equipment? The steps of the ladder were wooden and the shaped pieces with an inset curve for hands to grip were also segments of wood. All the many pieces of rope were linked with strong hemp like rope. I looked over the side to the sea far below and tried to imagine lowering myself down the side. The butterflies in my stomach began to flutter even more strongly. I wondered if the captain would consider lowering the big gangplank walkway just for me if I went to him and explained that I was just a tad anxious? Probably not!
The effects of the Scopoderm sea sickness patch behind my ear had given me severe blurred vision so I removed it. If I had known the strong side effect of applying this medication I would never have applied the patch. Everything in my close vision was vibrating with a double effect. It was most unnerving and meant I could not see to read. Even the large script on the diagram chart of the decks was beyond me. We had been on the ship for three nights and I still had to refer to the chart to find my way around. The multi-levelled ship had so many corridors and lifts that moving from one place to another meant I had to rely on the diagrams. The veranda deck was the only level that gave access to the outside. From there it was possible to climb up two more levels with outdoor seating and deck space. At the top was the gymnasium.
I decided to make use of the ship’s computer room one more time just in case it would be a few days before I could get internet connections on the island in my new home. I read an incoming email from Hilary Millard, the current school teacher on Pitcairn. She said that there had been torrential rain on Pitcairn over the weekend. The drought had well and truly broken and there were massive landslides on the Island. The road from the landing to the top of the hill, known as the Hill of Difficulty, was blocked by a slip and there was damage to many of the dirt roads. The slip that had come down over the road to the landing had filled the harbour with mud and rocks and the long boats would currently find it difficult to launch as the harbour was now too shallow. The slip way was covered with the landslide and the grooves in the concrete that the long boats normally slid down were under mud and rocks. The winch had grit and debris in it. It was unknown whether the slips and harbour would be cleared in time for the visit of the Saga Ruby! The men of Pitcairn were working around the clock to get it cleared in time.
The email had been sent during the weekend. It was now Tuesday. Surely we would land on Pitcairn Island this day. The thought of having to view the island form the ship but remain on board and continue on the ship’s journey to Tahiti with the rest of the passengers was unbearable. If we remained on board it would mean going around in a circle journey to Tahiti, and then flying to Mangareva to join the Claymore supply ship and then once again arriving at Pitcairn but this time in early March. Hillary’s email did nothing to calm my already taut nerves.