6 Nov 2014

6 Nov 14 - Visit To The Bounty Island

Having left the shelter of the outer islands next to Mangareva at dusk on the 4th, it proved to be a bumpy night of travelling towards Pitcairn. Clearly, I wasn't the only one who wasn't enjoying the motion of the boat. The following day's motion was similar to the night before, but some of the group were seawatching from the deck. I was still not enjoying the motion, but I did manage to get to sit in the bridge during part of the morning. There was little going on during this period, but I did manage to see my first Murphy's Petrel fly by. But too briefly for photos. At one point, I was recovering by the side of the deck from one of the two bouts of seasickness on the trip, when Bill pointed out a Storm-petrel flying across the bows. This was my only White-bellied Storm-petrel of the trip. Soon after that I decided, I would feel more comfortable in my bunk & gave up for the rest of the day.
The Braveheart bridge: There were a couple of very stable seats in the cabin which were a great place to sit (& from where this photo was taken)
The next day, I woke up to find the motion was a lot better & Kim popped back to the cabin to say He could see Pitcairn as we approached. So off for some breakfast, before preparing to going ashore. When I was first looking at a trip to the Pacific at the end of my first Round the World trip in 92, then a visit to Pitcairn was tempting. But it looked like nobody could realistically get there, unless it was possible to get a ride on the occasionally visit from a provisioning ship for the island. Even if you got there, then nobody had visited, so it wasn't clear if there was any chance of seeing the endemic Pitcairn Reed Warbler in the time the boat was there. This wish to visit Pitcairn was reenforced a few years later when I saw a travel program on the TV when somebody managed to visit & stay for a few weeks: but they didn't feature the Reed Warbler on the program. But even more tempting was the neighbouring Henderson Island which was uninhabited by people (but with 4 endemic land birds) & thus, there would be no chance of getting there as few boats were likely to visit. But this dream of getting to these islands had never left my mind & I was immediately tempted when I heard of the Wildwings tour.
Pitcairn: This part of the island looked pretty barren
Now it seemed a real likelihood I would land on Pitcairn in the next hour. There was a lot of interest amongst us at getting ashore, but we had to wait offshore on the lee of the island for the Pitcairn longboat to come to collect us.
Waiting for the longboat
The first view of the longboat: It looks a big boat to collect the 13 of us. However, having heard they use the longboats to visit Henderson Island (over a day of sailing & they have had to go to Mangareva in the past due to a medical emergency, then it looks very small for that)
Firstly, the islanders had unload bananas & other vegetables for Braveheart
We even had the island policeman on the boat: I think the policeman is a Kiwi working on the island
Steve & Kim looking forward to the trip in
As we were on the boat in, we were given a leaflet to visitors. Sadly, it wasn't the typical information leaflet as it focused to a large extend on warning visitors that there were parts of the island that were out of bounds to people & especially to children. Also it warning us that we should keep a close eye on any children on our boat landing on the island: although this wasn't a problem as we had no children on our trip. But the background to this leaflet was in the early 2000s, news broke of long term sexual abuse of under age girls on the island (which had been going on for generations) & which eventually lead to several of the islanders being imprisoned on the island following a New Zealand led trial. Although the island is a UK dependency, it is administered by New Zealand. There was an peculiar part to the sentence as at least one of the boatmen were jailed & they had to be allowed out of jail, whenever a supply ship or tourist ship appeared. I believe all the convinced guys are now out of the jail. Perhaps, it explained why we had the island copper on board with us. Sadly, as many people are aware of this abuse now, as they are of the main historical reason of being the home of the Bounty mutineers.
The Pitcairn harbour: It is a narrow entrance & needs a lot of experience to get the longboats in & out. The islanders are creating another harbour on the other side of the harbour, as sometimes it is not possible to land here if the winds on onshore
Pulling into the harbour: The boatshed at the back is just big enough to be able to hold both of the island's longboats
The harbour is narrow
As soon as we were ashore, the longboat was winched back to the safety of the boatshed
Allan & Kim clear passport control: It isn't normal to be allowed to photograph an immigration & passport officer at work
A group of 4WD Gocarts are lined up to take some of the group on a tour of the island: However, everybody decided to walk up together first to see the endemic Reed Warbler
It is a steep sided island & the cliff edges don't look that safe
It's a short, but steep, road up to the higher parts of the island
Looking back down on the harbour
Now it is time to look for the endemic Pitcairn Reed Warbler.