Thursday, April 26, 2012

Haircuts on Pitcairn

Haircuts on Pitcairn

Maybe you have wondered if a good hair cut can be had on Pitcairn Island.  Well the answer is ‘yes’.  Michelle Christian does a very good hair cut for just NZ$10.00.  On Tuesday I went for a cut and colour (some blonde bits) and it cost just $20.  There was something rather lovely sitting there in Michelle’s lounge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, listening to the crash of waves and feeling the sun on my skin.  While she snipped and cut and talked in her soothing voice, it was all I could do to stay awake.  The cat was winding around my legs and four colourful roosters kept coming to peer in the ranch slider to see what was going on.  The fact that there is no running water connected to their new home yet, and I had to rinse my new hairstyle out leaning over a bucket in the garden, just added to the wonder of a unique experience.
                                          Michelle Christian : Pitcairn Island Hairdresser

ANZAC Day on Pitcairn

ANZAC Day on Pitcairn

There is not a lot of call for wearing a suit or high heels on Pitcairn Island. However ANZAC Day was one of those days when people dressed smartly. Pitcairners turned out in force early on the day to remember those who sacrificed their lives that we might all enjoy peace and freedom. Mike Lupton-Christian commented that when he put his hand in his suit pocket he found the order of the service sheet for Remembrance Day back in November.

The square was decorated with elaborate woven coconut fronds and the flags of Pitcairn, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Britain were hanging at the front. We got off to a late start as the flag for the flag pole had not turned up.

Those that laid a wreath are pictured here with the sea scouts.  Bill Lambie is the Policeman and Doctor Kevin Donovan is in his Navy uniform. Elderly Len brown is holding the youngest of the Pitcairners, Isabel Christian.

Mayor Mike Warren gave a good speech about the meaning of ANZAC Day. The Sea Scouts walked in smart parade fashion and called out the names of those from Pitcairn who served in the wars. Paul lead the people in prayer and the hymn "Abide With Me".  Others also participated with poems, prayers and hymns.  A poignant moment was when our youngest resident, Isabel Christian and Len Brown, the oldest on the island, together walked across the square and placed the first wreath in front of the Bounty anchor. It was a special service and we celebrated with a cuppa and a biscuit afterwards.  Which reminds me... I must ask Betty Christian for her ANZAC biscuit recipe.

2012 Professional Group on Pitcairn Island

2012 Professional Group on Pitcairn Island

In addition to the Pitcairn Island permanent residents there is a team of professional people employed by the British Government to work on Pitcairn Island.

Most are here on a one or two year contract and carry out their duties in a similar fashion to the way they would back in their own home countries.  In the photo it shows the current 2012 team. They are from left:

Paul and Ruth Shelling: New Zealand School Teachers

Bill and Zana Lambie: New Zealand Policeman

Mike Rodden and Suzanne Nixon: New Zealand Social Worker

Juergen and Carol Schumann: British Governor’s Representative

Kevin and Sharon Donovan: Australian Doctor

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swimming with Turtles at Bounty Bay

Swimming with Turtles at Bounty Bay

We had heard that there were turtles in Bounty Bay but until yesterday we had not seen any.  The bay which is normally crystal clear has been murky since early February due to the large amount of sediment in the water after the landslide which deposited many tons of rock and clay  into the water.

Yesterday as we stood on the concrete wharf we saw the turtles.  I had imagined that they were little cute things!  Not so.  These are large turtles 60-95 cm long with an overhanging top beak and beady eyes.  There were three of them. They came up for air every 3-5 minutes and we got a good look at them.  I was just getting ready for a swim and thought that they might be inquisitive to see me in the water.  Their backs have a distinctive hexagonal pattern and a spotty mottled pattern was around their necks and on their flippers.

We were told that the Bounty Bay turtles are Leatherback turtles, but after googling the information on Leather backs I have my doubts that we saw Leatherbacks.  What we saw looked more like Hawksbill Sea Turtles.  The distinctive overlapping scutes, curved beak with an overbite and two claws on the front flippers are the identifying factors. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for them again.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bounty Bay Pitcairn Island

Bounty Bay

The only place to come ashore at Pitcairn Island is at Bounty Bay.  This is not a large bay at all.  It is just a pocket sized indentation in the rugged rocky coastline.  Over the years the wharf has been enlarged and re-shaped and is made from solid concrete.  The end is shaped like a large round bulge to help break up the strong waves which surge into the bay.  Strong waves break over the rounded end and dump seaweed onto the wharf.  The concrete is slippery at the end from being constantly wet.
On the seaward side of the wharf are large truck tyres suspended as buffers for the longboats or other craft coming alongside.
Bounty Bay is one place where we can swim.  The best way to enter the water is to jump off the side of the wharf.  Getting out is a little trickier as you need to either climb up the tyres, or time the waves right and go up the rocky beach.
The whole 9 weeks we have been here the waves have been constant and strong.  We have not seen a flat calm sea yet.  On one day when the waves were low inside the bay we launched my kayak and I had a paddle within the confines of Bounty Bay.

The music of Bach played in the Pitcairn church.

The music of Bach played in the Pitcairn church.
Today we had a real treat at church when accomplished pianist Peter Letkemann played for us in the service.  Peter is of German descent and his passion is music.  He said that visiting Pitcairn Island fulfilled a personal dream of his and that playing music in the church today the 14th March was really special.  We thought it was too and the whole service was based around music and singing.  We especially appreciated his rendition of Bach’s Praeludium No.1 in C Major.

Another visitor, Tony Probes, requested hymn 401.  This number coincides with ship's building number of the Titanic and was a fitting way to remember the sinking of the Titanic exactly 100 years ago to the day!

Paul spoke for about 8 minutes bringing a simple message about the way that our singing and music can glorify God and bring us into his presence.

And then, what better way to finish than singing the firm island favourite “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”.

Peter played again for us on the 21st April and more than 30 people attended.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Geographic Team Finally Depart

National Geographic Team Finally Depart

“Public announcement. There will be a fishing trip this morning at 9:30am.  Then tonight at 6:00pm there will be Fish Fry at the Square and a presentation to the National Geographic Team before they depart”.   Shawn Christian’s voice came into our homes early in the morning on Tuesday 10th April. 

Every household here has a public radio.  It takes the place of a notice board / newspaper and all public announcements come through loud and clear for all to hear.

That evening we had a real treat. The National Geographic team  leader Enric Sala, showed us a ‘teaser’ on the big TV screen in the public hall.  We had the privilege to view some of the footage for the TV documentary and some absolutely stunning shots of underwater fish, coral and algae.

As a thank you to the team the people of Pitcairn presented them with some wooden carved vessels – replicas of the Bounty ship and Longboats. In the photo Mike Warren, the current mayor is beside Enric who is holding the Longboat carved by Mike Warren. It was a special evening and I overheard a comment “it makes you kind of proud ".

The following day they departed and the population of Pitcairn turned out in force to see them leave. I’ve never seen so many quad bikes at the Landing at one time.

Eco Trail Bush Walk

Eco Trail
The Eco Trail is a bush walk that leads all the way to Christian’s Cave.  Fletcher Christian, the man that led the mutiny on the Bounty, used to retreat to this cave.  The climb up to the cave is not for the faint hearted.  There are limited handholds and a slip of the foot would see you fall some distance. There is also a nasty little plant called “Grab a Leg” growing on the rocky face and it has little spines that hook into your shoes and clothing.

Even if you don’t have the nerve to climb all the way up to the cave, the bush walk itself is lovely. There are massive rocky outcrops that have interesting names such as “Banging Iron” and “Sailor’s Hide” which hint at a past history.  Banging Iron was a forge and also the site where one of mutineers called McCoy made an alcoholic beverage from the roots of a plant there. Sailor’s Hide was a hideout for two sailors that decided to jump ship and remain on Pitcairn.

Paul and Ruth under Sailor's Hide

The school boundary is the Eco Trail and so this beautiful walk is only 5 minutes from our house. The Trail  has seats and information boards and great views out to sea.  
Ruth and Zanna Lambie rest at "Banging Iron Rock"