Saturday, April 3, 2010

back on watch

24 24.6South , 131 08.8 West / on a rhumbline between Pitcairn Island and the Gambiers

It's 1:00 am and I am back on watch...We left Pitcairn Island today at 4pm headed for the Gambiers and what will be our first real introduction to French language, different money, and very different topography...Decided to leave at end of the day today as the passage was likely to be calmer than the anchorage anyway and leaving these 16-18 hrs earlier will give us less time on the water as the end of the weekend approaches and t he seas pick up again. Right now we are motoring as there is no wind and it is pretty calm. Probably will have these conditions until midnite Sat. and then we will only have 8-10 hrs to go. We are fine with the motoring concept as until we get the new parts we can't use our mainsail and our big reacher (light wind) sail needs repair as well. We have lucked out on the parts we need and a friend who was in Calif and returning to his boat in Tahiti is able to get them there and then put them on a plane to Gambiers for us...what a stroke of luck and we are very thankful to both the company who rushed to replace the part and to Scott who is delivering it this far for us...Have sure seen what a differnce in customer service can make between these guys at Leisure Furl and the Prop manufacturer who really screwed us over on their share of responsibility for the defective propeller we dealt with in the Galapagos.

So, impressions of Pitcairn...It was a fabulous stop and we were lucky that it was calm enough to give us 2 days and 2 nights there (a rare occurence apparently) The island itself was abolutely stunning and very dramatic( who would have thunk). But the more remarkable thing was the graciousness and generosity of the people who live there. There are only about 50 inhabitants...most of them being descendants of the Bounty mutineers. Over 1/2 of them seemed to have the last name of Chrisitian so I assume almost every one is related. There are only 8 people between the age of 20 and 40 so it is a pretty weird lifestyle I am sure . They are a British protectorate and fully subsidized by the English government. The only way for them to get in and out is on a supply boat that comes from either New Zealand or Tahiti, does that run only every 3 months and is prohibitively 8000-20,000.roundtrip depending on if you take the boat the whole way or fly fo Tahiti and to Gambiers and then take the boat only from there(that being the more expensive way). So needless to say these folks are really out here, completely self sufficient and very very isolated. At this point at least they have satellite TV and internet and I am sure this has changed their lives. What struck us tho' was how proud of their island they are and how very generous they all were. We were given 100 bananas and about 50 passion fruit, a pizza, loaf of bread, some fresh herbs and 3 eggplant as we were leaving...they are very poor and yet gave us so much food it was kind of amazing!!! Yesterday we did some hiking and saw most of the sights, a smal museum included.. Today Bill and I were taken on an ATV tour to the further away places by the Doc who runs their clinic( he is there for a year/from Australia). His wife made us lunch and Bill saw one of his patients in the clinic. Gram got to go with some other people and dive one of the wrecks there. Many of the islanders are Seventh Day Adventists( and that means they are vegetarians...a fact I was not aware of) and the church plays a very important part of island life.

The island is high volcanic and verdant greenery abounds. The coolest thing I thought was to see the palm tress right next to these grand Norfolk Pines. The soil is very red where there is soil and there are steep cliffs of rock elsewhere. The water is unbelievably clear...we could see sand ripples under the boat which was 64 ft under!!!We had perfect weather tho it was very warm and intense sun got the best of us today. But the drama of the landscape was unsurpassed (so far that is ) and we are really glad we were able to stop there. Oh yeah..they spoke English which in itself was so relaxing and a treat for us to be able to so easily communicate with our hosts!!! Will quit now and wake Gram up to take over watch. Goodnight all ..(.Goodnight moon to of my favorite kids books and my very favorite girl!!!)

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