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Pitcairn Island Part 2

By Chelsea McBroom

February 5th, 2014

The crowd at the fitness test / obstacle course at the top of the island finished off the watermelon and left soon after to avoid the light rain. Steve whisked me away on the ATV and we rode down the steep hills back to the house to get ready for dinner. Shawn Christian, newly elected mayor of the island and Steve and Olive’s son, came over to the house while we ate chips and black olives and watched a projected video of the Brigantine Yankee anchoring at Pitcairn when they discovered and hauled up the Bounty anchor in 1957. Olive and Colleen were in the kitchen cooking and called us in when the stir fry, rice and fresh cucumber slices were ready. Conversation was had about the community and Pitcairn family history – the wonders and mysteries still very interesting to this day. As we all filled our appetites our hosts insisted I take a shower (for the sake of enjoyment for they insisted it wasn’t my smell) and go to bed for I was falling asleep at the table.

In the morning it was another beautiful day with a stretch of blue sky and fairly calm seas. The Captain had been keeping a thorough eye on the ship and its anchorage and had been checking weather forecasts constantly. The Picton Castle was anchored off Bounty Bay and conditions were good. The ship was in good hands with the mate and his watch monitoring any movements throughout the day and night.

Olive made us toast, sunny fried eggs (free range from the island), sliced avocado (so buttery in flavour, which also came from the island), and beans. After, the Captain and I strolled along the road and visited more friends: First we stopped at the store to stock up on some bug spray to avoid dengue fever in the coming islands. Steve had the key and let us in for our purchases. Next we visited Mavis and Meralda. Their house has a little pond in front of their porch with an assortment of goldfish and an old tub with a few turtles in it that Picton Castle had brought on an earlier visit. Meralda showed me her handmade tapa cloth, a thick paper or cloth that is often painted with dye and made me a smoothie-like drink made with passion fruit and melon. It used to be what islanders made clothes from years ago. Right across the road is the museum which had opened just for the crew to see it and so I raced over to get a look at the pieces of history kept safe there. Lots bits and pieces of the Bounty and interesting stories on the wall. We didn’t have much time, we had to be at the landing for 10am to join the islanders on a fishing trip in the long boat.

Many of the crew joined, we even picked up some on the ship, all making sure to put on some ships work clothes to get messy in, sunscreen and hats. They launched the long boat down its long ramp, we all piled in and and steamed around an anchored around the island where it was a bit shallower and the fish could be seen in the crystal clear waters. The locals shared their reels of line, sinkers, hooks and bait. Brenda, the customs officer for the island, was catching sometimes two at a time she was so quick, breaking their neck through the gills and tossing them into a bucket. These are a popular fish known by their Tahitian name of ‘nanue’. We sat with the wheel of line behind us and just enough line gripped in our hands dropped from the boat. Although I’d experienced fishing when I was a kid, I had poor luck and only caught one. Lily, Gustav, and Teis were at the bow with me catching one each every few minutes. Within the hour the boat had caught about 80 fish and if it wasn’t for the amateur fisherman (such as myself) that needed assistance and the extra lines in the water, the locals would have doubled that. The day had just begun, I still had so much to see and do, and it was decided that our bounty would be used for dinner that night for a cookout and a concert, a variety show done by the crew, at the Landing.

Pitcairn longboat approaching Picton Castle

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