July 19, 2018
Took in sail this past evening to slow the ship. We do not want to make Bounty Bay before dawn, now two hours away. Winds have backed and faired more into the east and have laid down from 25 to 20 knots. Seas are down too. Still pretty lumpy but improving. We have a lot of cargo to unload in a few hours. The early morning sky is a dome of piercing stars against a black backdrop. The island is 15 miles ahead and still invisible in the night. Up ahead we can see a single sharp white light low on the horizon.
Out here we can often see stars that low, but now we can see no others and there is enough cloud cover to thicken up near the horizon. Looks like Pitcairn has put the porch light on for us.
With the morning sunlight breaking the clouds and growing astern the shape and colours of Pitcairn Island become clear. We are sailing due west in 20+ knot winds but with this large southerly swell on our port beam, rolling pretty hard with yards squared. A call on the VHF, “good morning Pitcairn Island” gets a response and a welcome from Dave Brown. Dave points out that it is pretty rough off the island. We knew this. James does a good job steering us close to an area known as ‘Cornwallis’ where a ship of that name was wrecked ages ago. It is rough, but also starkly beautiful. We rig up the many tires to fend off the long boat and hawsers for it too, with tackles to discharge the cargo; but looks too rough to me for that. The big longboat comes bashing alongside with many familiar faces, Steve, Shawn, Jay, Randy, Dennis, Andrew and a few new to me. Boxes of fruit, banana, oranges, grapefruit come flying aboard for our gang staying on the ship. Then, after a VERY short discussion about not taking the cargo, our gang, half the crew, piled onto the boat, timing their leaps into the tossing boat, let go and headed back for the landing, to windward in large deep blue seas smothered in white caps. Word from the island is that all made it ashore just fine, though soaked to the skin.
On the ship we shut down the main engine, braced shard on starboard tack, set two staysails and the main lower topsail and began our jog to the north away from land for the day and the night, until we turn around, get close again and switch crews so the other half can get ashore. Thankfully Meralda also sent a couple bags of fresh breadsticks which she knows I love too much. It is a beautiful sight to see Pitcairn just off our starboard quarter as we head-reach here deep in the South Pacific.