11.03.2009 - 17.03.2009 28 °C
Ok, what is the ship like?
It is small for sure, but now that we are only with 6 people we do have enough room for us and our luggage. A great thanks to the 4 guys who weren't ready for a real expedition haha!
There are 12 berths, 6 on each side of the boat, 3 upper bunks and 3 lower bunks. I have to admit, the beds are quite ok although it can get a little damped down there. The lower deck has some chairs to sit on and a lot of 200 liter tanks of water! And then there is the upper deck, or sun deck so you want, though when the boat is out at open sea it is not advice to go there actually. There is small kitchen and a few seats inside and of course the main place for the skipper, with that traditional steering wheel and dozens of instruments.
Rules on board:
1. The skipper is alway right.
2. If the skipper is not right, automatically rule number 1 applies!
Well, time to leave and go out to the open sea. We reached open sea probably several hours after we have left, so time for those seasickness pills. And yes, they do there job quite well. I usually took on in the early morning and one late afternoon, so I was allright until around midnight, when my watching shift had ended and it was time for my bumpy sleep. We all have two hour watching shift between 6 in the evening and 6 in the morning....ship time that is. Man, I am totally unaware of time. Mangareva is one hour ahead of Tahiti, Pitcairn is again one hour ahead of Mangareva, while shiptime is half an hour in between Tahiti and Mangareva time. Hello, still there?
So, the plan is to go to the main island, Pitcairn, and arrive there in roughly 60 hours, so late on Friday the 13th! Unfortunately for us, winds were getting rougher each day and on Thursday the skipper decided we headed for Oeno atoll first, which is the northwestern most island of the Pitcairn Islands. On top of that, we did have quite some problems with the engines and some other stuff, but mechanic Jack (called Check by us) was always there with his skills, and not less important: his extreme patience!
So the next few days were at sea, waking up at around 7 or so, have breakfast, sit on deck and talk, have a mid morning nap, lunch, mid afternoon nap, and diner basically. After a while you really get used to the waves and the rhythm of the sea and boat. And then finally after at least 50 hours of travelling: land! Oeno, the holiday island of the Pitcairners, though during recent years not many people have been there at all.
Now, approaching Oeno is one thing, but getting ashore is another. Oeno is totally surrounded by a reef and only one tiny stretch of that is actually suitable to go through...by a small rubber boat, a dinghy, that is! And that is exactly what we did on Saturday. Andrew took the 3 of us and some luggage right through the dangerous reef and waves. It nearly went wrong when the dinghy was about the flip over at an angle of at least 45 degrees, but then he suddenly flipped the motor again and we were back to normal again...well, almost, because the motor stopped! And that was not a good thing at all. Fortunately, it was just the fuel line that was loose, so we discovered. If that motor really broke, we had a huge problem going back the next day. Well, it wouldn't have been possible at all. We almost became a modern Robinson over there.
Ok, Oeno is small, you walk around it in an hour or so, but it is fantastic. Just imagine the world most remote uninhabited island, with a turquoise lagoon, fine white sand, palm trees and clear blue skies. Awesome!. And we stayed there for the night on top of that, just sleeping on the beach, receiving sand in body openings you didn't know you had them!
Next day, after a coffee with the best view ever, we went back in the dinghy, right across the lagoon and again hitting the waves of the reef extremely hard. What and adrenaline rush that was..o my lord! We got soaked!
Again aboard the Bounty Bay, both mechanical problems and winds avoided us from leaving that same day. We left early morning on Monday though for our 75 mile (nautical mile that is, about 1800 meters) trip to Pitcairn Island. To give an idea: the average speed is just about 5 knots (nautical miles again) and hour, and even less during the next hours. It took us another 18 or 19 hours to approach Pitcairn. After my shift, I went outside, smoked a cigarette and in the near distance, about 9 miles further away, lit by the moon and the stars, I saw the contours of the rugged hills of Pitcairn. And well, that is where I am now, staying at a local home with a great family. Only around 50 travellers a year get to actually stay on the island, mainly going with the Bounty Bay vessel. So, yeah, it does feel quite unique and rewarding to have reached the most isolated country (well, semi-independent) in the world, with the lowest number of permanent inhabitants (just under 50) as well.
Again, for me, it doesn't get (or have to be) any more adventurous than this and it just feels extremely....WOW!
Ok, guys and girls, time to have a shave and a shower after spending most of the week at sea or remote beaches. Get back to you later with more details about life on Pitcairn. Will be here for another 4 days probably, so plenty of time to meet all people of this tiny piece of land in the Southern Pacific.