Sunday, September 9, 2012

Henderson Island Trip

Approaching Henderson Island 168km from Pitcairn
Aerial view - (photo not taken on this trip)

Cliffs surround a flat raised coral atoll plateau

The ship that does the regular supply run to Pitcairn Island is the 'Claymore'.
Seen here anchored off Henderson Island.
Henderson Island General Information                                                                                        Henderson Island is about 168km from Pitcairn Island. This uninhabited world heritage site is one of the most remote and untouched islands in the world. It is part of the four islands in the Pitcairn group, the other three being Ducie, Oeno and of course Pitcairn itself. On the evening of the 6thSeptember, Paul departed from Pitcairn on the Claymore. A couple of tourists had chartered the vessel to take them on a 40 hour return trip. The opportunity to join them was there for a reasonable cost. Paul, Juergen Schumann and Mike Rodden decided to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. They travelled overnight and awoke to find themselves at Henderson Island. 

Paul at Henderson Island
The island is a raised coral atoll approximately 7.3 km long  by 4.8 km and 30 metres high. It is basically a huge piece of coral that has been raised up from the ocean floor. There are rocky cliffs around the entire island and once you have climbed up the cliff track you come out on a very flat plateau covered in dense scrub and trees.
There is a sandy beach at the foot of the cliffs and a coral reef is in waist high water. A gap in the reef allows the Claymore’s inflatable Naiad to negotiate through from the open sea to the beach.

Jetsam and floatsm on a western Henderson beach

There are no buildings on the island, although the presence of an abundance of jetsam and flotsam rubbish washed up on the north beach is a reminder that nowhere on earth is that far removed civilisation as to be totally untouched.   
A pair of masked boobies (Sula dactylatra) with a chick

Birds are abundant.  Unfortunately rats were also seen.  A highlight of the trip was watching some humpback whales jumping out of the water as the boat was circumnavigating the island before the return journey home.
Humpback Whale performing
Strawberry Hermit Crabs (Coenobita perlatus) on Henderson


Monday, September 3, 2012

Christian's Cave Pitcairn Island

Climbing up to Christian’s Cave

Christians Cave is a dominant feature on the cliff face above Adamstown.  The triangular shape appears to be deeper than it actually is because of the strong dark shadows on the cliff face.  Climbing up there is not for the faint hearted.  From the cave you get a good view out over Adamstown and out to sea. 

The track up to the cave starts from the end of the Eco Trail.  The tough strong grass that grows on the cliff face is called “grab-a-leg”.  The seed pods from this nasty little plant hook into your socks and shorts and any bare skin. The barbs are like little cactus needles.

                                                                       Nearly There

Today I climbed up there with two companions and felt a sense of achievement as I stood in the cave.  The floor of the cave is flat and has a liberal covering of goat droppings all over it. As you climb up there you by-pass two smaller ‘caves’ (on the lower right as you look at the top photo).

Looking out of the cave towards Adamstown
Of interest on the way is a tunnel that goes through the rock and gives a view up the valley. You can climb through this tunnel safely.
The rock tunnel