“Isn’t Tuesday, today, when the general store is open?” Asked Sabrina.
“Yes, but they’ll be closing at noon,” responded Charlene, as she hoisted our skiff out of the water.
“I’ll run you up there on my Quad,” she said. We were still scratching our heads that of the three days open for business, Adamstown works for only the first half of those days!!
Now we were having fun riding the Quads up the steep hill that leads from the dock to the town. The Quads are the favorite mode of transport in Pitcairn. They are open air ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles), similar to four wheeled motorcycles with loads of traction for the muddy steep slopes around the island.
‘A Bit of Everything’: that is how the general store was described. This understatement exceeded our wildest dreams; after our two years provisioning our sailboat in the hit-or-miss groceries of Central America, we were now in a store carrying a plethora of New Zealand products! Way out here in the middle of the Pacific!
Surely the prices are exorbitant though? Nope.. they are basically New Zealand prices. A bottle of gin was US$7. A block of Colby cheese US$4.50. Ginger snaps $2. Everything was very reasonable; and in anticipation of the jaw-dropping prices of French Polynesia, we decided to stock up Aldebaran’s pantries, which had been dented by our three week passage from Galapagos.
US$500 later, we had 5 large boxes stacked outside. Our lunch hostess Daralyne also made us whole grain loaves of bread for $4/loaf, and two sizeable boxes of fruit and veggies grown by locals on island were thrown into the mix for $40.
There was also informal provisioning occuring. As we visited people during the day, we were given extra watermelons (“they’re going to our chickens anyway”), hot peppers (“these buggers are bloody hot! You like these?!”), and kale bunches (“oh please take as much as you want, helps with pruning”).
All our boxes were delivered to the dock by Quad, and placed in the skiff, which was then effortlessly hoisted in the water. The locals’ helpfulness is to a fault, without any real pretension or expectation of return. They are just happy to assist whenever we mention it.
The hardest part of our Pitcairn provisioning effort was, naturally, getting the boxes of food from the dinghy to the sailboat. As the wind from the SE increased in strength, it got rougher. A lot rougher. Imagine handing over a case of wine to a person riding a rodeo bull while you’re straddling a feisty goat, and you’ll have an idea of the procedure.
But the most troubling part of the affair was that when we were re-stocking our galley and putting all our new provisions away — inside the supposedly ‘dry’ pantry — we discovered soda cans had exploded and got various things wet.
Gee whiz, we work so hard to keep the persistent water of the ocean and rainstorms out of certain “dry” areas, and then soda cans explode from the excess vibration?? Give me a break.. no more soda cans except in the cooler.
We were shaking our heads in amusement at the whole experience. We never imagined we’d be provisioning in little Pitcairn island; and that we’d find so much abundance! So we started calling it “Bounty-full Bay”.
True fact: loading food is a ton of work (we were up till after midnight cleaning, storing, and labeling things) and the dinghy process is tough. Monohullers may not want to stock up their boat at a rolly anchorage. Other than that, it’s a fantastic spot for yachts crossing the Pacific to stock up on affordable New Zealand goods, before going to the pricey and apparently limited selection of products in Gambier Islands of French Polynesia.
But who knows! Maybe we’ll be proved wrong down the road. Until then I’m enjoying my Kingston choc filled cookies.
Read more about Pitcairn and our voyage:
Enjoy the photos, videos, and recipes on Green Coconut Run? Support by becoming a Patron and get sweet perks! http://www.patreon.com/greencoconutrun