Pitcairn Island – 10:00 to 14:00
With another hour back last night, our consistency with Vancouver time was short lived, lasting a mere 24 hours, as we spent today on Alaska time. However, the highlight today was the spectacular visit to Pitcairn Island. No, we didn’t go ashore, but even in 35 to 55 kt winds, almost the entire island came out to visit us. Only the oldsters stayed ashore, avoiding the trip out to the ship, which most definitely would be deemed a white knuckle adventure.
Temperature: High 25C/77F, Low 22C/70F
Wind/Weather: NW’ly at 35 kts increasing to 55 kts about 14:00. Initially overcast with rain, clearing by early afternoon, then becoming partly cloudy. Moderate swells of 12 to 15’
Clox: Z-8 (back 1 hour last evening)
Throughout the early morning, Sea Princess maintained a W’ly course towards Pitcairn Island at a speed of about 13 knots. We spotted the island about 09:00, taking up position off the SW point by 10:00. The Captain provided a lee from the gale force winds, while the resident’s long boat came alongside. While aboard, the Captain maintained a position about 2 to 3 miles offshore. When the locals departed about 14:00 we commenced a scenic cruise around the island in 55 kt storm force winds.
On completion of the scenic cruise we altered away from the island and set a WNW’ly course at a speed of about 17 kts towards our next port of call in Papeete.
The only inhabited of the 4 islands in the Pitcairn Island Group, it is the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific Ocean. It a small mountainous island barely 2 miles across, with a current resident population of only 47 residents. Made famous, as the home of the mutineers from HMS Bounty, most of the residents are descendants of 4 of the mutineers, including the leader – Fletcher Christian.
With the loss of 4 hours of work on the Easter Island blog post yesterday, I gave up this morning’s walk in favour of completing the blog post and getting it uploaded before arrival in Pitcairn. Therefore, I got started about 05:30, getting it finished shortly before Judi awoke shortly at 07:00. Wide awake, we headed down to the dining room when it opened at 07:30, sitting with 2 other couples. We learned something this morning, as both chaps served in the Australian military forces in Vietnam. Neither Judi or I was aware that Australian Forces served in that conflict.
Reading the Princess Patter this morning, we noted a positive from our recent visit to Easter Island. Apparently the locals are battling the Chilean Officialdom regarding the fee to enter the National Park. The locals want free access to the park and seem to have won their battle. Therefore, we will receive an $80 refund, per person for each ship tour taken on Easter Island. Yet again, another benefit of taking ship tours, as local tours, with the fee built in I highly doubt will track you down to issue a refund.
On completion of breakfast, we watched the approach to Pitcairn Island from the balcony. In gale force winds we watched the long boat laden with most of the island’s population come rocking and rolling out to the Sea Princess. Shortly before they came alongside we spotted a spout a couple of miles from the ship, so I captured a couple of shots of a whale’s back. We then watched the spectacle of about 35 locals clambering up the pilot ladder with all their wares. Once aboard, Judi and I headed down to Princess Theatre for the 1/2 hour presentation from the island magistrate, about life on the island. A most enjoyable presentation with some excellent photographs. We then headed up to Deck #12 to view the local’s market stalls, set up to sell their wares – tee shirts, patches, a variety of carved wooden objects, postcards, etc. Judi ventured into the tables to check out their wares, but not me. It was like demolition derby, a free for all. I’ve been at football matches with well over 1000,000 spectators crammed into the stadium and the market place was much worse. Manners – completely devoid, nada, zilch. They even made announcements requesting that you do NOT go behind the tables, as a number of passengers got behind and started rummaging through their bags. Unbelievable, almost siege mentality.
Judi picked up a few things, then we beat a hasty retreat before chatting with various people out on deck. Shortly after Noon we headed for lunch, but with no seats in Horizon Court we headed back out to the grill, finding a table with 2 seats. Another couple joined us and we chatted for over an hour. Turns out their opinion regarding the standards aboard this ship are fairly consistent with ours. They are planning an Alaska outing in the near future, so were asking for suggestions.
When the market place closed, the locals congregated on deck singing a couple of farewell songs, before heading down to re-board their boat. Judi and I returned to the cabin and watched the process from the balcony. Until the Captain managed to create an effective lee, the boat resembled a bucking bronco. Once stabilised, they started loading, with the process similar to the Energiser Bunny – it just kept going. The ship donated or they purchased a substantial amount of supplies, as they completely filled the boat before loading the remainder of the locals. Immediately on boarding, they donned Sou’westers to provide some protection from the now 55 knot winds. Once they departed, the Captain commenced a lap around the island, so I headed down to Deck #7 to get some photographs. The deck was already almost 2 deep at the railing, so I stood behind an older lady, being able to see over the top of her head. What a little old sweetie, as she offered to push over so I could get access to the railing. I declined saying she should spread out, hold on tight and be comfortable, as I can see over the top of her head. I got chatting and she mentioned last visiting the island 77 years ago. Wow! That is a lady endowed with class, and a terrific sense of humour mixed in nicely with some spunk. It was a real pleasure chatting with her.
Once we circumnavigated the island, the Captain peeled off to port, away from land, completing a really slow and controlled turn onto our course for the next port of call in Papeete. As we started the turn I returned to the cabin, yet again working on photographs and blog posts. Late afternoon, Bruce called to sound us out on getting dressed for dinner. General consensus was too much bleedin effort, so all 8 of us met up in Horizon Court for dinner. It was actually well done and most dishes were even warm. Post dinner entertainment is the singers and dancers repeating a show from earlier in the cruise, so we elected an early night.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.