Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leaving Pitcairn Island

Departure day

Today (2.12.2012) is our departure day.  We leave with mixed emotions.  I feel sad to leave this beautiful island behind.  Can you believe there are still places that I have not had a chance to explore? It has been a wonderful year for us – full of personal growth and challenges and we are so thankful that we have had the opportunity to be here.

 We got up early at 5:30am and rode on the quad bike to the Highest Point to watch the sunrise.  We could see the Claymore II anchored down at Tedside.  We will board at 5:00pm this afternoon.

There she is at anchor
Will we ever return?  I would like to think that one day we may have the opportunity but this is quite possibly the last we will see of beautiful Pitcairn.

Goodbye and God Bless.

Farewell at the Church

Farewell at the Church

Paul’s final sermon was held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Pitcairn Island on the 2nd December.  There was a good turnout of people attending to say farewell to us and to welcome to Jean-Claude and Esperance Honoura as new pastors.

Esperance and Jean-Claude Honoura - New Pastors

The farewell luncheon held afterwards was a feast.
We felt privileged to hear the speeches and to receive the beautiful gifts.  The lidded basket made by Daphne Warren has my name 'RUTH' and 'PITCAIRN ISLAND' woven into the panadanus strips.  The dolphin was carved by Dennis Christian.

We will always hold you close to our hearts. 



Sunday, November 25, 2012

“Down the God”on Pitcairn Island

“Down the God”on Pitcairn Island

Many people have read and seen pictures of the petroglyphs in the area of Pitcairn known as Down Rope.  Adventurous tourists climb down the cliff face to see them.  Less well known and less accessible are the petroglyphs ‘Down the God’.  The route down is not for the faint-hearted. 
Agility, strength and a good head for heights are the key factors needed for the descent and climb. 
The descent down is very steep

At the base of the cliff is an overhang.  The petroglyphs are carved into the rock.  Unfortunately in years gone by an islander chiseled the carvings out of the rock with a view to selling them.  When it was pointed out to him that this was not an acceptable thing to do, he returned to the site and cemented them back into place.  The cement can clearly be seen.
No one knows the meanings of the symbols which have been there since the times of early Polynesian settlement prior to the the arrival of Europeans

Alternative Harbour for Pitcairn Island

Alternative Harbour for Pitcairn Island

One of the projects looming large for the Pitcairn Island future is the Alternative Harbour Project.  In a nutshell, the project is to build a second harbour built on the western side of the island.  This will provide an alternative landing wharf and access to the island at times when the weather is not suitable for landing at Bounty Bay. 

Approximately ten cruise ships call at Pitcairn Island each year.  For some of these ships the islanders go out to board the cruise ship to sell souvenirs.  For other ships it is possible to off load the passengers onto the boats and ferry them to the Bounty Bay wharf.  It is dependent on the age and ability of the passengers to negotiate the boarding of the smaller boats and the weather on the day. 

The two rocks protruding out in the sea in the foreground will frame the new harbour
The western side of the island, known as Tedside, often has a more settled wave pattern and a lesser swell than Bounty Bay, when the weather is coming from the east.  If we are getting a north easterly both Bounty Bay and Tedside can be exposed.  Yachts and the Claymore II supply ship anchor at Tedside as often as they anchor off Bounty Bay and the longboat leaves from Bounty bay and travels around to Tedside.  Occasionally a passing yacht is unable to call in at Pitcairn because of the weather. 

To build a harbour and suitable access to the western side is a huge project.  Consultant Engineers from New Zealand, Tonkin and Taylor, were involved when the project was originally put together.  They will visit the island during the construction period.

Access down will mean a new road will be constructed
This project is an ideal opportunity for Pitcairn Island to attract new people to come to the island to assist with the construction.  Employment is difficult to find on Pitcairn Island and is one of the disadvantages that anyone considering immigrating to Pitcairn would face. 

 The planning stages of this project are already well under way.  Funding for the project will come from the European Union.  It is expected to cost in the vicinity of 2.2 million Euros.  Initial payments of 1.125 Euros have already been paid.  Existing heavy duty equipment on the island will be used and additional heavy equipment will be needed.  Tenders have been put out for a ship capable of bringing the heavy equipment to Pitcairn.

 The time frame for the project includes beginning construction in April 2013, having a concentrated effort and aiming for completion late 2013. 


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Wakatapu Vessels Pass Pitcairn Island

The Wakatapu Vessels Pass Pitcairn Island

Today was a lovely calm day here on Pitcairn Island.  This afternoon while teaching in the classroom we heard a voice on the radio from the passing Wakatapu vessels.  So we took the school children up to the Ship’s Landing lookout point and watched the two waka as they sailed past.  The red sail stood out against the blue of the Pacific.  If you have not been following the voyage of the waka as they follow in the wake of their ancestors from Auckland, New Zealand to Rapanui (Easter Island) and return, you can view their website on 

The two waka originally left Auckland on 17th August. They left Mangareva on 7thNovember and are journeying towards Rapanui. Pitcairn Island is about one quarter of the way to Rapanui from Mangareva. We wish them all well on their voyage. 
Paul on Rapanui in February this year
Paul on the rim of the ancient volcano on Rapanui

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Plant Nursery on Pitcairn Island

The Plant Nursery
The outside entrance way to the nursery
Pitcairn Island has a plant nursery. The building is quite substantial and there is plenty of equipment for propagating and nurturing plants. 
Plastic pots, potting mix and tools
Sometimes there are vegetable seedlings for sale.  There are also trees and shrubs ready to plant out. 
I went looking for an avocado tree and a mango tree but there were none there.

But I did come away with passionfruit vines, pawpaw and two lime trees which I have planted in the grounds of the school teacher’s residence.

Long Ridge on Pitcairn Island

Long Ridge
One of the best walks on Pitcairn Island is down Long Ridge to Water Valley and then back up the Water Valley Road. This walk offers wonderful views of Tedside on the western side of Pitcairn.
Descending the upper part of Long Ridge.
Matt's Rock and Young's Rock in the sea

View of Long Ridge taken from Gannet's Ridge
As you descend the rocky ridge you have a view behind you looking up to Gannets Ridge. 

Looking back up towards the top
To your right you are looking toward the ridge of Christian’s Cave.  Ahead of you is the panorama of Water Valley and Tedside.  The circular donut ring of rock in the water is called 'Garden'.  The rock jutting out into the sea is called 'Isthmus'.  This will be the site of the western Harbour that will be built providing additonal access to Pitcairn in bad weather.

Water Valley below the ridge

The ridge itself is solid rock so even though the drops are sheer
you feel confident that your feet won’t slip.It is relatively easy to climb down
Brenda Christian and Ruth sitting enjoying the view before descending from the ridge
and climbing down to Water Valley along the cliff edge.

An aerial view of Long Ridge

St Paul’s Pool Pitcairn Island

St Paul’s Pool

The jewel in the crown that is Pitcairn is surely St Paul’s Pool.  We have been here for eight months and yesterday we managed to swim in this beautiful rock pool. 
Ruth swimming in the pool
The two huge pillars on each side
 We have visited the pool many times but on these occasions we found it to be too dangerous for swimming. The strong waves crash into the pool between two high pillars.  At times the waves crash right over top of these which is an amazing sight. The waves flood the pool and then a strong current flows out the other end like a river going back out to open sea.  In the past people have been caught in the current and swept out. It pays to ask the locals for advice for when to swim.

Descending the wooden steps to the pool

The pool itself is teeming with life.  Many varieties of fish and sea creatures live in it. Paul and I tried our camera underwater and were pleased with the results.
My height gives persepective to the size of the pillars.
The waves crash right over top of these in rough weather.
The pool has numerous species of fish
An eel came out to see what I was doing with my camera

Red Ridge on Pitcairn Island

Red Ridge
Red coloured soil on the ridge
Gudgeon’s Cave is directly below the Red Ridge.
Having negotiated the Down Rope climb we were ready for more.  Brenda Christian suggested going down Red Ridge.  Red Ridge is named after the colour of the soil in that area.  I looked at an aerial photo that showed the ridge line from out at sea but I could not imagine how anyone would be able to climb down there. 
Descending the ridge

But Brenda led the way and we followed, down the Red Ridge across a large slip formed during the February 2012 floods and up the ridge on the opposite side of the slip.  We were walking on the edge of a cliff for much of the way. 
Looking over the edge
Very steep with not a lot of handholds
 In the next photo you can see the Red Ridge in the background that we descended.  Then we crossed a large slip and climbed the ridge on the side in the foreground. It was a wonderful day. What a truly magnificent island Pitcairn is. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Down Rope

Down Rope

Down Rope refers to a place on Pitcairn Island.  It is a small sandy beach accessible by boat on a calm day or down the cliff face from high above the beach.  Engraved on wall at the base of the cliff are ancient petroglyphs carved into the rock wall. Tourists who come to Pitcairn often inquire about going down there.  The track is narrow and nearly vertical in places and there is no rope.  Maybe in the past there has been a rope hence the name.  You need nerves of steel and a good head for heights to negotiate the route. 
                                               Looking towards the beach from the sea

                                         Standing looking at the petroglyphs on rock wall                                        

After my successful climb up to Christian’s Cave I decided that I would be prepared to give Down Rope a try.  My reasoning was that if it was too difficult for me then I would turn around and retreat up the cliff face.  Brenda Christian (pre-school teacher) is also on school holiday this week so she agreed to be the guide for Juergen Schuman and myself.  We successfully got to the bottom of the cliff and enjoyed a few hours on the sand and explored around the rocks before climbing back up.

                                                       I'm standing at the base of the cliff

Climbing back up.  Brenda behind me.

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