January 26th: Pitcairn Island
It was an early get up for all of us this morning as we sailed up to Pitcairn Island. There was quite a swell on the sea, and the wind was blowing bravely, which has made for some interesting photographs. My hair was blowing around so wildly I look like a yeti in the snaps.
Hard to imagine that this remote, rocky, inhospitable island, halfway between Australia and South America, has had such an exotic history. They’ve recently discovered pre-European remains on the island. You can’t help but wonder what forced those earlier people to end up on this remote and barren lump of rock.
Our ship sailed right around the island and we confirmed that there wasn't a lot of flat or arable land available. No wonder the place stayed off the world's radar for so long until Fletcher Christian put it on the map.
I imagine it's a bleak place to live weather-wise, and claustrophobically limited in access to fresh faces, experiences and any form of culture or outside contact. However, if you want isolation, the Islanders are apparently advertising for new settlers. The trauma of the sexual trials that occurred some years back still haunts the island, and there are reports the inhabitants are deeply divided about the outcome. It is hard to see how their community can eventually avoid becoming extinct. The lack of fresh DNA coming into the place must mean that inbreeding is a constant problem.
I was intrigued to note that there was no sign of life on the island. Admittedly we arrived early in the morning, but, even scanning with our binoculars there was no evidence of curtains being opened to view our arrival. Certainly no islanders came out to the ship to sell their wares as we had expected. Either they are blasé about cruise ships, or else they simply didn’t want to know about us.
Until recently the main source of income for the island was selling their exotic postage stamps, but unfortunately, the demise of written letters has killed that as a viable trade. Nowadays honey is their prime export. The country is so isolated from any source of infection that their honey can be imported into any country on the planet including picky, bio-security conscious, New Zealand.
We're two days out from Easter Island, and beginning to watch the weather, hoping the sea will be smooth enough for a landing when we reach there. Apparently there's a low building over South America which may pose a problem.