Friday, February 10, 2012

First Sightings of Pitcairn Island

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. 

1 comment:

  1. How exciting to open a new chapter in life at a fabled South Seas island. Please write as often as you can.