First Sightings of Pitcairn Island
At 9:00 am the rain started in great windy gusts. Paul and I kept going out on the foredeck
hoping for a first distant view of the island but knowing that the heavy cloud
would obscure an early glimpse. And then
suddenly, there it was, solid and definite on the horizon, the outline
strangely familiar. The cruise ship was
already closer than I had imagined. We were looking directly towards St. Paul’s
pool, the very rock formation that we had chosen for our signature picture on
our small business card with our contact details. My heart leapt with
emotion. Our fellow passengers cheered
and shared our excitement. I was amazed
at how our elderly companions were right with us sharing our adventure every
step on the way. It was as if they were
with us in spirit cheering us on and wishing us all the best in our
adventure. In our short stay on board we
had met so many lovely people who were all interested in our adventure. Many had taken our business card and said
they would follow our stories on our blog site.
I put the binoculars up to my eyes and immediately saw a
yellow scar on the face of the island. I lowered the binoculars and saw the
slip was visible to my naked eye even though we were still 40 km away. During
the next two hours the island grew larger and larger. Individual rocks and
trees could be made out. The raw
landslide looked like a wound and the red soil staining the sea was like the
blood washing in the surf. The island looked taller, craggier and more rugged
than I had been expecting. The colours of mossy green, yellow ochre and rusty
red were vivid.
Suddenly I saw the Pitcairn Island long boat coming through
the surf towards us. They had made it.
The harbour must have been cleared. The launching had been successful! Their
boat seemed to be sitting quite low in the water and filled to capacity with
people, many whom were wearing yellow wet weather gear. The passengers on the
cruise ship lined the rails looking down. The boat looked small as it came
alongside. A door on the side of the ship down on A deck opened and the rope
ladder was put out over the side. Heavy
ropes were attached to the long boat and strong arms hauled the longboat in
closer as it heaved up and down on the swell.
The Pitcairn Islanders began clambering up the rope ladder onto the
cruise ship. It did not look to be an easy casual transfer. The timing of the rise and fall of the long
boat was critical. As the boat rose on the swell the ladder was grasped and the
person transferring shifted their weight onto the ladder. We could hear cries
of distress from a small child as she was passed over.
About 25 people came
aboard and then the remaining men still on the long boat begun to roll back
canvasses to reveal plywood sheets.
These were lifted up and we could see many bags and baskets stored
underneath. The islanders had brought
baskets, wooden carvings, T-shirts and other items to sell on the cruise ship.
The bags and baskets were swung up and willing hands caught them. At last just one man remained in the long
boat and he cast off the ropes and began to motor away to spend the next few
hours fishing for large tuna to trade on the ship.
These people that we had just witnessed coming aboard were
to become our community. Soon they would
become known personalities, and hopefully friendships would be formed.