Friday, February 10, 2012

Pitcairn Islanders on board the Saga Rose

Pitcairn Islanders on board the Saga Rose

Once on board the Pitcairn Islanders set up a mini market place in the ballroom displaying all their wares.  Carvings made from Miro wood were finished to a high standard. Turtles, sharks and replica models of the Bounty seemed to be a common theme. Trading was brisk and it seemed that passengers and islanders alike were happy.  The snow freeze ice cream machine in the cafeteria worked overtime as the Pitcairn Islanders enjoyed the free ice creams.

Paul and I met Hillary Millard and her husband Roger. It was lovely to meet them after exchanging so many emails. They seemed even nicer in real life than I had imagined. Cheerful practical resilient people that had accomplished a great deal of input into the life of Pitcairn Island in the two short years they had lived there.  We sat and chatted and exchanged notes but the pull of the island had me mesmerised and I wanted to be at the rail as the ship circumnavigated twice around.

One colourful island personality stood out from the others. Pirate Pawl was as large as life. He wore a black singlet top, had numerous ear piercings, tattoos and a heavy necklace around his throat. His head had not a hair upon it and to the elderly English he epitomised exactly what their romantic ideas of a genuine modern day pirate/islander might look like.  Elderly ladies were queuing up to stand beside him for a photo as he good naturedly posed with a wicked grin on his face.

When I stood by the rail with my island map in my hand he came and pointed out the features of the island. Many I knew by heart already from the numerous times I had pored over the aerial photos taken last year by the helicopter brought in for the Henderson Island rat poison eradication programme.  By this time my blurred vision was beginning to clear a little and with the help of Paul’s spectacles I could read the map. As we went around the island the damage caused by the torrential rain over the past weekend became evident. Numerous slips were visible and the sea was stained dark red in a number of places.

Another solid presence who had come on board was the island based policeman, Bill Lambie. He exuded an air of competent masculine strength and I felt that he would be an excellent person to have nearby in times of difficulty.

After the trading was over the passengers were invited to listen to a presentation by Pitcairn’s deputy mayor Simon Young.  Simon did not fit the mould of the typical Pitcairn Islander.  He had an English accent and a lean athletic frame rather than a strong sturdy physique.  His long hair was tied back in a pony tail. He introduced himself and said that he was not a naturally born Pitcairn Islander but had immigrated there. We viewed a little of the history of the island and saw current photos of relics from the past.  Pictures of the flora and fauna were shown on the screen. A question and answer time followed and happily I knew the answer to all the questions thanks to the extensive reading we have done before our arrival. The time of transferring onto the long boat drew inexorably closer and finally the time came. The Pitcairn group sang to the passengers and then it was time to go. Nine of the Pitcairn people were remaining on the cruise ship for the onward journey and there were hugs and tears as the farewells were said.

Down on A deck the numerous bags and baskets were passed out the doorway first, all considerably lighter than when they had arrived.  The presence of some of the Pitcairn children on board had added to the successful outcome of the trading. The lone man who had remained with the long boat had successfully caught a number of big tuna and these were exchanged for a box of steak fillets from the cruise ship freezer. The NZ $10 per adult fee that the islanders paid to him also made up for the fact that he did not get to trade on board.

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