Saturday, 2 October 2010
Thursday, 30 September 2010
As promised in our last epistle, I will attempt to impart the experience of our visit to the Palmerston Atoll
Firstly, where the H’—is it? Essentially it is part of the Cook Islands, which comprise of 15 small islands contained within an area of some 750 000 square miles bounded between 08 and 23 degrees south and 156 and 167 degrees west.
These in turn are divided into two sub categories, namely the north and south Cook Islands.
Since 1965 they have the status of being a self governing democratic commonwealth, affiliated with New Zealand. (how is that for a whole lot of Westministerese claptrap) which means that all citizens have Cook Island and New Zealand citizenship, and that New Zealand have sole control of Cook Island Foreign Affairs; Defense; and subsidizes finances.
Palmerston is deemed to be part of the Southern Cook Islands situated as it is at 18-03 south and 163-13 west. The atoll comprises six sandy islets scattered along the coral reef surrounding the lagoon. All in all a pretty lonely place. The privately operated supply ship only visits when the cargo is economically viable. We were fortunate to be present and able to assist in the offloading, when a visitation of this life line occurred, the first for 9 months.
Here comes the real, or is that surreal, side to the story, there are plus minus 70 inhabitants in total on the atoll, all of whom descend from a unique history. They are all descendants of a patriarchal figure, a Lancastrian by the name of William Marsters, who in 1862 settled there with his 3 Polynesian wives. He the proceeded to father 26 children, and divided the islands into sections for the 3 “families”. He also established strict rules regarding intermarriage, and to this day, some of his descendants control the island while the rest live and work in New Zealand and elsewhere in the Cook Islands.
For the visiting yachtsmen, (There is no other way to get there, except by the very irregular supply ship) there is no access into the lagoon if the draft of your vessel is more than 4 feet, so the locals have laid down a series of mooring buoys outside the reef, with each “family” owning their own string of about 4 each. (The numbers fluxuate as new are added, and others removed for maintenance).
Now comes the unique part of the tale, upon arrival within a mile or so of the island, a small craft belonging to one of the families will come out to meet you, guide you to a mooring buoy, assist in tying you to it, and from that moment on, for the duration of your stay, you and all on board are adopted by the family. They ferry you back and forth from ship to shore, they feed you, teach you about all their customs such as fishing, whale watching; coconut harvesting and preparation; catching land crabs; cooking in ground ovens etc. you are taken on tours of the island proudly shown all their infrastructure such as the school, generator plant, water collection system . We were again fortunate in the timing of our arrival, in that for about 4 months of the year, during the nesting period of the “Tropic Bird” population on the adjoining islands, once a month, (our experience was to be the last of the season) all the families collect some of the male chicks, who are at that time still flightless, but paradoxically much larger than their parents. A strict tally is then kept of how many each family is responsible for collecting, and the whole island population meets on the beach at an appointed time share out the birds accordingly. However if there are visiting yachtsmen present, the family who are looking after them is allowed to take one extra bird per visitor from the total captured, and the population in general absorbs the loss in their allowance with good will and smiles all around. Killing, plucking and eventually burning off the residual feathers is then performed with much ceremony, and of course the visitors are expected to partake enthusiastically. Shirley designated herself as official photographer, so deftly avoiding mutilating what she perceived as different manifestations of our pet Parrot Rubbish.
The birds were then cooked overnight in an underground oven, and consumed with great relish after church (attendance compulsory) on Sunday morning.
When, all too quickly, it was time for us to leave these amazingly giving and friendly people, we were presented with gifts of freshly caught fish and coconuts. It must be emphasized that apart from the regulatory levies imposed by the New Zealand’s representative (a very friendly all powerful administrator by the name of Tere) the locals did not expect any form of remuneration, except maybe some flour, salt or such, that we had to spare. I got rid of that darned stainless steel chain and convinced Shirley to part with some of that ever present pasta that she likes and I do not.
Should any of you reading this be sailing this way in the future, in our opinion it would be a great loss, in re learning how to treat our fellow man if nothing else, if you fail to stop and enjoy the experience
Well once again that’s about that for that.
Taffy ,Shirley and Rubbish.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the following:
Palmerston was discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, but he did not land on the island until 13 April 1777. He found the island uninhabited, though some ancient graves were discovered. Cook named the island after Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, then lord of the admiralty. The ancient name of the island was supposedly Avarau, meaning “two hundred harbours.” In 1863 William Marsters, a ship's carpenter and barrel maker, arrived on Palmerston from Manuae with two Polynesian wives and annexed the island from the British government. He added a 'third wife' and sired a large family of some 23 children, whose descendants now inhabit Palmerston. Thus, Palmerston Island is the only island in the Cook Islands for which English is the native language.
William Masters is said to have originally come from Leicestershire England, and his descendants now spell the name "Marsters", possibly due to the Leicestershire accent. By the time his youngest daughter Titana Tangi died in 1973, there were over a thousand Marsters descendants living in Rarotonga and New Zealand. Though only some fifty family members remain on Palmerston, all Marsters descendants consider the island their ancestral home. In 1954 the family was granted full ownership of the island. Three branches of the family remain on Palmerston, each branch being descended from one of Williams 'three wives', marriage within a family group is prohibited. Palmerston is now administered by the Cook Islands government in association with New Zealand.
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Note the smooth inside of the rim and the dome headed bolts we had to source and fit,as the original hex headed bolts would foul the brake rubber ends.
This section was to me the great unknown,how do all those metal parts we had made work and if so,will they work on our standard of wheel available to us at this time? The friction material in the builders manual is a short length of 1" (25mm) rubber tube,thats a neat idea and when its faced up to a rim with a rim thats flat on the inside face, presents a decent friction surface.In our case the rims are less ideal but using a rubber cap on the tube end has seen the system work well,with some hole adjustments the foot brake and the hand brake work well.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Here we can see the hand brake in the On position,note fixing bolts and fastners may be temporary in all and any of our pictures pending our final package.
Here the hand brake lever is in the off position,you can see it going through a slot in the bulkhead.