Friday, January 24, 2014

Report # 27 Pitcairn Island January 24, 2014 Friday Chance of rain, 80 degrees

Our window garden
Our wall map, charted from Ft. Lauderdale
Well, what a better way to spend a birthday than with a visit to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. Or, actually, a visit around the island. It was about 7am when we spotted this 2 mile long volcanic island, famous for being the home for the mutineers of the HMS Bounty in 1790. We are sure you recall the movie (there were actually three of them), Mutiny on the Bounty, where an intolerable Captain Bligh was invited to leave his ship by Fletcher Christian and his band of men. Right or wrong, once the mutiny took place, the Bounty had to be sailed back to Tahiti in order for the men to gather their new loves and a handful of natives. Captain Bligh would never rest until he found this group that set him and some of the loyal sailors out to sea in only a small sailboat. In order not to be found, Mr. Christian accidentally found tiny Pitcairn Island, and realized it was not charted correctly on any British map. This island had everything they needed to survive..... fresh water, game, plenty of fish, root vegetables, and tropical fruit. It worked, they survived, and obviously left a number of descendants to tell the story.

Out very early on the empty bow
The logo for the 2014 world cruise

The brass bell
Pitcairn in the distance

Getting closer

Bill and Pitcairn
Also getting clearer

North tip of the island
Volcanic in origin
Tiny islet
Bounty Bay

Caves on the hillsides
Impossibly steep
Housing for the longboat
Today, there are around 45 residents, most all related to shipmen Christian, Warren, Young, and Brown, of course, many generations removed. Pitcairn Island is one of a group of four volcanic islands all belonging to the British Overseas Territory. As far as isolation goes, this island has got to be one of the most remote places on earth. Even at that, the locals make their living from tourism and shipping. Exports are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Wood carvings from local trees are a big seller here. As is their unique brand of honey, Delectable Bounty. They boast a variety of bees that produce a high quality honey, that is shipped to New Zealand and the United Kingdom. We found that it is pricey too, since a 4 oz bottle was selling for $10. at the Lido pool. Have to admit their labels are cool.
The longboat
We watched as the longboat sailed from Bounty Bay to the Amsterdam. At least 20 people were in that boat, along with hundreds of pounds of souveniers. In one section, they had bunches of those tiny delicious bananas. They quickly boarded using a rope ladder. 

Half the population of the islanders

They all climbed a rope ladder to access the deck
More bow visitors
Mary Ann included

Pitcairn rolls, juice and coffee
The entire bottom of the longboat was filled with boxes of t-shirts, cookbooks, caps, costume jewelry, carvings, postcards, teatowels, and honey. The most popular item was their pre-stamped postcards, $3. for one, or $5 for two. Everyone was filling them out, and turning them in to be mailed from the island. Believe it or not, several of our security guards were strolling around the outer edge of the crowd, obviously watching for any sign of theft. Yes, stealing. The ones that would be watched are those that carried large purses or shopping bags with them. Why would you need those when you can take your purchases down or up to your room? We have seen stranger things on cruise ships over the years. As for us, we quickly found a t-shirt, an embroidered visor, and 2 postcards. Be interesting to see how long they take to get mailed home.

Bringing bananas

More treasures

Unloading their wares to sell
Mr. Christian, descendant of Fletcher, son of Irma Christian
We located Mr.Christian, one of the descendants of Fletcher Christian. Years ago, we had met his mother, who at the age of 80, was still climbing the rope ladder to get on the ship. We bought her cute cookbook at the time, the same one her son was selling today. He said she was fine, and still doing well. Just not climbing ladders anymore. As a matter of fact, nobody from the island came onboard last year. They were all sick with a gastrointestinal bug they got from a visiting cruise ship previous to our stop. Shows you how powerful those bugs can be.

Another different type of souvenier to purchase was the opportunity to have your passports stamped with a Pitcairn stamp. This took place at the Wine Bar on deck four, where folks stood in line to be handed their passports, then have an immigration officer stamp them for a $10. charge. Perhaps this is a collector item, but something that has never interested us. Our old passports reside in the safe at home, never to be looked at again. Maybe we are missing something??

The youngest islander
Wood carvings

Selling tables in the Lido Pool area
Irene and Leslie, managers of Shore Excursions
By 11am, the visiting Pitcairners gathered their stuff, and loaded up the longboat with supplies from the ship. They had placed an order with us for some staples, as well as special treats like ice cream, fresh fruits, and wine. Can't have enough of those items on hand. Prior to filling the boat, some of the men handed over a 4 or 5 foot fish, which could have been a tuna. It was quickly hauled onto the Amsterdam. 

Loaded up and ready to go

There they go
Many of the passengers, including us, hung over the outside railings to wave farewell to them. As we resumed sailing in a westerly direction, the island became smaller and smaller. By the time an hour had elapsed, the island was out of sight......a reminder of how the band of mutineers were able to live undetected for the remainder of their lives.

Southern tip of the island

Homes and buildings in the center of the island

Now we are leaving

Heading west, leaving Pitcairn
The afternoon activities continued as if we were at sea, which by now, we were. The day evaporated for us as we spent it at the aft pool. Thankfully, the breeze picked up as we resumed sailing, because while in Bounty Bay, it was quite hot and muggy. No rain, however. It was obvious that it did rain before sunrise, since the outside decks were soaked. But lucky for us, the day was nice and dry.

Dining room deco
Tonight was formal, and we sure crossed our fingers that the air-conditioning had been fixed since last night. The back end of the lower dining room had become stifling on the last couple of evenings. We hate to complain, but if you do not speak up, nothing happens. All of us mentioned the problem, and thankfully, it was much better tonight. When we arrived at the table, we found Barb already sitting with four gifts at each couple's seats. It looked like Christmas, mostly because she used brightly-colored red and green wrapping paper to wrap the presents. She had gotten us a nifty luggage tracking battery-powered unit. You attach one piece to your luggage, and you have the tracking button. They are supposed to help you identify your luggage as it comes out on the belt at the airport for instance. We certainly hope that security realizes the flashing red light and the beeping noise does not resemble a bomb. Anyway, what a sweet thing to do for all of us. That way, she has all the birthdays covered ahead of time, starting with the one tonight.....mine.
Beautifully-made lemon-filled white cake
The beautiful cake we had asked for arrived with a bunch of waiters and head waiters ready to sing the Indonesian happy birthday song. Everyone around us clapped and sang the song, which always does not happen. These folks seem to be very nice this year. The eight of us just about polished off the entire lemon-filled three layer white cake topped with gobs of whipped cream and sweet pink roses. Bet some of us will be ordering jello for dessert for the next week........ Anyway, it was a great way to end a memorable day.

A frigate bird

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