Thursday, July 19th, 2018
At 24-34S / 128-17W – east by north of Pitcairn Island 100 miles away – dead ahead – mid-day in the Picton Castle.
Blowing hard from the SE – Force 6-7, seas large, 20-25 feet – plenty breaking white caps. Some sun and a little blue sky breaking through the low flying scudding clouds tearing along overhead. Under upper topsails and courses. Man-ropes rigged on deck, watertight doors closed. Ten miles to leeward we can see the seas breaking over cliffs of Henderson Island, an uninhabited raised coral atoll and part of the Pitcairn Group. The cliffs are 50-60 feet high, maybe more. It too was inhabited up to about 600 years ago, but a pretty inhospitable place. Sharp coral everywhere, a valley where once was a lagoon possibly useful for growing taro. But pretty rough living.
No place to anchor, nor many places to even land a boat in a surf. Went there years ago in the Brigantine Romance to fetch miro wood for carving.
Better weather than now but still an adventure rowing the just cut logs in and out of the surf in the 40′ wooden pulling boat. Miro is a pretty wood used for carving and had become in short supply on Pitcairn. Enough miro growing again on Pitcairn these days for carving needs.
We will take in the main course and fore upper topsail here at noon today in order to slow down a bit so as to not reach off Pitcairn before dawn tomorrow. Crew eager to get ashore. An open question if that will even be possible tomorrow. We are four weeks out of Galapagos today. Almost 3,000 miles under sail alone. Great trade wind sailing, calms, squalls and now something a lot like southern ocean sailing. The gang is keen to feel some earth under their feet and, of course, to meet up all at Pitcairn Island.