The 10 most important things one should learn and do whilst on Pitcairn
Darrin, Zara, Brandon Young
Darrin was last on Pitcairn Island for a brief visit, way back in 1982.
Late 2012, and out of the blue, Darrin emailed us to say he was returning to the island with his daughter Zara (18) and son Brandon (16).
Initially their intention was an 11 day visit, the maximum stay at the time, if travelling via the Claymore II and its scheduled visits.
We immediately intervened, “…heck, the tall ship Picton Castle’s due to visit in late December, why not try and organise passage off the island on it, extending your on-island stay to 20 days”.
Knowing time on Pitcairn can go very fast, 11 days will seem to meld into 3.
There’s a lot to see and do on Pitcairn, and 11 days just doesn’t cut it – especially if you really wanting to live it!
Although the trio were super keen to spend those extra days on Pitcairn, it was a logistical nightmare organising time away from NZ for an extended trip. Darrin had to arrange for not just 20 days leave from work, but the additional 7 days each side for travelling time, a grand total of 34 days. Zara had a boyfriend to contend with and Brandon a newly planted vegetable garden which would need watering whilst away.
However, within 4 weeks they had pulled it all together. And yes, they would eventually depart Pitcairn on the Picton Castle to Mangareva. “What a way to leave Pitcairn” Darrin wrote, on a tall ship they would help sail.
Initially I was a little nervous the night before Claymore’s arrival. The last time we had seen Zara and Brandon they were knee-high grasshoppers. They would be adults now. And Darrin… who would he be after so many years?
We had prepared 2 rooms, one for the Zara the other for Darrin and Brandon. Although there was always the option to shuffle stuff around in the store room to make room for a bed so each could have their own space – we thought it best to leave that decision up to them.
The weather wasn’t nice the morning of their arrival. There were pretty big swells rolling across the northern side of the island and it had started raining. The Claymore was anchored in the lee at Tedside on the western side. We launched the longboat around 8am for an 8:30 pick-up. It was a wet bouncy trip to the ship and on arrival found the swells were no different at Tedside. Whenever you’re approaching the Claymore, from a distance you’re always trying to make out the figures on deck – this time I couldn’t quite pin the silhouetted shapes to the images I had in my mind of the three.
Alongside I couldn’t honestly say I had seen them, perhaps they were simply missed in the last moments tying up, the pounding of vessel against vessel in the high swells, the rain. Then Zara pocked her head over the side from the rear of the Claymore. I recognised her but then I didn’t – she was now a woman. At this point I was distracted having to help retrieve and stack luggage in the longboat. Bag by bag they were handed over to us as we struggled to stand upright on the wet moving deck. There were 12 travellers in all, so lots of luggage and little room for manoeuvring on the longboat deck come time for passengers to board.
As you could probably imagine, time blurs under such conditions and before I knew it Darrin was aboard with his arms around me. It was a fleeting moment as others were right behind him, as you work speedily but cautiously to get all aboard. Because of limited space I was separated from all three, so still hadn’t the opportunity to reunite, to even say hello as we pulled off and headed back to Bounty Bay.
To this day I reflect on Darrin’s arms around me and still can’t quite describe my feelings, and certainly not in one word. The adrenaline’s pumping, you’re tired from manhandling a ton of weight, your legs are jelly from trying to keep upright, and you’re mentally exhausted responsible for getting all aboard safely, you’re wet, and suddenly you have family with arms loving wrapped around you.
At the landing the rain became heavier. It was a rush to unload. A brief hug and kisses to Zara and Brandon as I hurried to load their luggage on our buggy. We had to get out of here before the rain became even worse. Darrin would remain with Heather at the landing for immigration and quarantine processing.
I guess we were all a little shy as we drove up the hill towards Big Flower, little was said apart from the usual – were the seas rough on the trip over, were you seasick, then… this is the Hill of Difficulty, the Edge, the Fuel House, the road up through Jim’s Ground, the intersection to Aute Valley, and finally here’s our driveway.
We unloaded and I introduce them to their rooms, the kitchen/lounge albeit within seconds as I knew I had to return to the landing for Heather and Darrin.
“Make yourselves at home, help yourselves, our place is yours… I’m heading straight back down to pick up Heather and dad.”
Halfway back down the hill, Andrew had kindly brought them up on his bike, so we passed each other once again.
By the time I found a suitable spot for turning in all the mud, time had passed and I knew I had missed a precious moment, Darrin driving onto and walking into ‘Big Flower’… The Young’s family piece of Pitcairn.
I arrived back home where Heather had them all settled, shown them around and had already caught up on lots of news… I had become a late arrival.
Weird, despite the years apart, as I walked into the lounge all that came out of my mouth was “…how are you bro?”
Despite the years apart it seemed like only yesterday since we last saw each other! However this time though there was a slight difference, we were together on Pitcairn Island.
The rest of the day was lost in general catch-up conversation, and the trio feeling their way through what would be their home for several weeks to come.
Although, there was something Heather and I needed to break to them. They wouldn’t be going home in a hurry. The Picton Castle would be delayed indefinitely due to severe weather in North America. The only other exit was a cruise ship scheduled for 15th January.
“Umm…there’s been a slight change of plans you’ll be on-island not for 20 but a minimum of 40 days!”
At first they thought we were joking. So Heather and I thought it best to let it rest for a day before raising it again. A good move, by the next morning the trio were very much in gaga land, already entranced by the island. Despite jobs, a wife, boyfriends, a vegetable garden needing watering back in NZ, their response to the situation came easily “…Oh well, if we have to stay longer – yahoo!”
However, they made it clear to us, “Given the extra time we’ve added to our to-do-list".
Have a look, what do you think….