Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
By Cheri Davidson
Monday September 2, 2013
Crew and ship are back to sea again after a brief but welcomed stop at Palmerston Island.
Picton Castle has brought cargo to the people of Palmerston twice this past summer, and we have many good friends there. This time we carried just a couple small freezers, a few small tanks of propane and some boxes of dry goods and food such as cabbages, corned beef and tapioca, as well as some bags of concrete.
We arrived at Palmerston on Saturday morning after a nice 300 mile passage under sail from Rarotonga. Shortly after making our appearance near the passage into the lagoon, we were greeted by several small aluminium boats carrying many familiar smiling faces welcoming us back to Palmerston. We sent our ship’s doctor, Mark, ashore and started immediately unlashing cargo from the hold and bringing it on deck to transfer into the small boats. It all went remarkably fast, and crew took hydration breaks as the ship needed to turn around every so often to keep a safe distance from the reef.
The Captain announced that any crew who had not been to Palmerston before could go ashore for the day and possibly even overnight, as the seas had layed down quite a bit. We would have liked to stay for a couple days and catch up with all the friendly folks, but the wind was not in our favour, coming unusually from the west making an anchorage impossible. The ship would have to heave to for the night, and needed some crew onboard to sail handle. Ten of us quickly packed up a small overnight bag with clean clothes and bathing suits. The exhaustion from standing watches and unloading cargo suddenly lifted as we took the slow ride in through the passage and across the turquoise lagoon to set foot on the creamy coral sandy beaches under the palm trees of Palmerston Atoll. Each of us were grabbed up by a wonderfully caring and generous homestay family. We swam, we played volleyball, we walked around the island, we carried little children around on our backs, and ate lots and lots of delicious homemade food.
Sunday morning a few of us joined our homestay families at church. It’s nice to see everyone dressed in their Sunday best, complete with Palmsterson-made hats, hand woven out of the spine of coconut palm and decorated with beautiful frangipani and tiare. Shortly after lunch we packed up again for the small boat ride back to our ship. The swell was big and our goodbyes short, as we set off for our next destination, the Kingdom of Tonga.