Do you ever go out in the long boat to visit a passing ship and go on board?
The teacher does not usually get out often as the cruise ships call during school time. However many islanders and some members of the Professional Team do. It depends on the boat and how many extras are allowed. You might get a chance to go out on fishing trips in the Longboat, which usually happens on public holidays.
To make sure that the longboats are ship-shape, the crews will take them for a run around the island every month or so...anybody who wants to can go along for the ride. When visitors are transported back to the Claymore for their return trip, there is always extra room for anyone who wants a ride.
Was transferring from the ship into the long boat very difficult? Did you worry about falling or misjudging your "jump"?
We had to climb down a rope ladder from the Saga Ruby. It was about 3 or 4 metres. Prior to this it was good to practise on some of the metal ladders up on the deck. It is important to remember to move your hands down as you move your feet down, so that you don't end up stretched out. Keep your hands at chest level. It wasn't too scary. There are always big strong people in the long boat and as it rises up they will tell you to jump and you must jump precisely when they tell you. It’s not very far only about a metre or so! Many people lose their balance when they land in the longboat but hands will reach out to steady you. The greatest danger is slipping between the longboat and the side of the ship. It would be easy to get your leg or ankle trapped and crushed.
Are life jackets worn in the longboat?
No. Life jackets were not offered. The longboat does not carry many lifejackets. However we bought our own from New Zealand and on occasions when it is rough we choose to wear them.
Do the islanders still sing “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” when they are in the longboats departing from a ship?
No. You would not hear the song above the noise of the motor. This song is still sung often but usually on board the cruise ship before transferring to the long boat. It is not the Pitcairn National Anthem but it is kind of like the theme song.
Are any of the longboats still made from wood? Are any still rowed?
No, they are not made from wood. The two longboats in use are made from heavy duty aluminium. The hull is probably about 2-3 cm thick. The deck is plywood which can be lifted up to store things underneath. They do not have seats. Travellers sit straight down onto the deck. No, they are not rowed. I have seen no evidence of oars or rowlocks. There is one old wooden longboat from yesteryear on display in a shed.
Do the Islanders invite you or your husband to go out in the small fishing boats to catch fish?
Not all islanders go fishing, and as you can imagine, pulling a 50kg yellow fin tuna into a small boat on a hand line, is not everybody's idea of fun! The action is fast and furious. If you are keen to have a go, Vaine Peu will welcome an extra person to share the costs of fuel for the boat and he is usually very successful with his fishing. Vaine’s fishing trips usually take about 3 -4 hours and you can feel a bit queasy with the swell. I have never seen the ocean completely flat here. Occasionally it is smooth but there is always the swell.
Do you ever get crayfish or other seafood in shells?
Yes both Randy Christian and Dave Brown have wire baskets for catching lobsters. They then keep the lobsters in the cages in the sea and feed them. They sell lobsters to cruise boats and they will sell locally too. The cost of one crayfish is very reasonable here, approximately NZ $12 – 15 dollars. I think the local lobsters are more like Moreton Bay Bugs than NZ crayfish. They do not have long spindly legs but rather they have stubby paddle like legs which they use to bury themselves in the sand. There are no shellfish.