Category Archives: Pitcairn Island

24th January

(This courtesy of Wiki)

The earliest known settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians. Pitcairn Island was sighted on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret. The island was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island.

Carteret, sailed without the newly invented accurate marine chronometer, charted the island at 25° 2′ south and 133° 21′ west of Greenwich, but although the latitude was reasonably accurate, the longitude was incorrect by about 3°. This made Pitcairn difficult to find, as highlighted by the failure of Captain James Cook to locate the island in July 1773.

In 1790, nine of the mutineers from the Bounty and Tahitian companions (six men, eleven women and a baby)—some of whom may have been kidnapped from Tahiti—settled on Pitcairn Island and set fire to the Bounty. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay. Although the settlers survived by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among them. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men.

Pitcairn, it was discovered, has one of the best examples of disease-free bee populations anywhere in the world and the honey produced was and remains exceptionally high in quality. Pitcairn bees were also found to be a particularly placid variety and, within a short time, the beekeepers were able to work with them wearing minimal protection. As a result, Pitcairn today exports its renowned honey to New Zealand and to the United Kingdom, where it is stocked in London by Fortnum and Mason. The honey has become a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

We sighted the island when 35 miles away, no challenges with our latitude and longitude compared to the 1700’s 😎 .

The Islanders have their longboat storage house in Bounty Bay.  There is small man-made breakwater which provides some shelter from the incessant Pacific swells and the north-westerly winds and as we approached the bay, the longboat, crowded to the gunwales with occupants came out to meet us. (Someone must have ‘drawn the short straw’ as they were left to look after the island).

We provided a lee as the boat came alongside our door on the port side and the transfer of souvenirs and people began, 44 of them in total.  Sean Christian was escorted to the Bridge and presented us with a lovely plaque, signed by all the Islanders and some of their famous honey and some wood carvings.

Meanwhile, the Islanders set up ‘shop’ on the Lido deck, items of all shapes and sizes filled the stalls around the entire deck and guests eagerly pounced.  There was also a small post office, where guests could buy cards and stamps; these would then be taken back to the island and mailed.  (For those of you who will expect a unique card from Pitcairn, you’re in for a wait, the next Mail ship doesn’t arrive until March; this is taking ‘snail mail’ to an extreme J)

Having boarded everyone, we then set off on a circumnavigation of the island, (there is no opportunity to land here); guests crowded the decks for a photo opportunity, (those who weren’t shopping, of course).

3 hours later and 2 circumnavigations, (so that both sides with balconies could view), we arrived back off Bounty Bay.  The Islanders, with considerably less souvenirs, boarded the longboat; however this was not before we loaded stores for them.  This is a tradition, their staple food is minimal and items such as ice-cream, potatoes, soda and beer, which we take for granted, are a rare and welcome treat for them.

Laden with their goodies and with much waving from guests and Islanders alike, plus ship’s whistle blowing, they made their way ashore, while we set sail for Papeete, Tahiti, where we arrive on Monday.

We have been changing our clocks since leaving Easter Island, going back an hour each night and my sidereal clock has gone haywire, I’m waking at unearthly hours of the early morning.  One would think that an additional hour in bed each night would be good for you, however after so many changes; it would appear that this is not the case; I am not the only one who can be found in the officer’s pantry, making a coffee at 5 in the morning!  On the other hand, the good news is that one can achieve a great deal of work without the normal phone calls and personnel interruptions.