It was a relief to get around the northern side of the island, protected from the full brunt of the SE wind and swell.
The coastline had a lonesome feeling. A stony promontory was cut by gulleys of bushy trees, which clung to the vertical cliff. A large offshore pinnacle had an unusual arch with a rock suspended in its grasp.
The ocean here was rippled with texture but very smooth compared to the mayhem of Bounty Bay just around the corner. Looking over the bow, we could clearly see the sand in 60ft of water at the recommended outer anchorage, but chose to drop the hook in the placid calm of the inner anchorage. We knew the holding ground in this inner anchorage was poor – a predominance of rocks and some sand – but it was a temporary stop. We planned to leave that same night for Oeno Atoll.
We snorkeled in the clear but somewhat featureless waters; then hiked on shore, discovering an array of tide pools. As the sun set we returned to the boat and weighed anchor (with some difficulty, as it was snagged in the rocks!)
In the dim twilight, the blue reacher headsail was hoisted and Aldebaran was again underway, heading north with SE winds to our back. Under the red glow of our night lights, Sabrina served up a delicious curry with the produce harvested from the island.
Behind us Pitcairn Island fell away, a grey mass in the horizon. The few lights of Adamstown twinkled in the darkness. Their isolation was heightened: a little speck of civilization on the side of a huge rock, stuck out here in the middle of the Pacific.
Indeed, their isolation has a terrible side. Even though the people are extraordinarily hospitable; their self-reliance and homesteading abilities remarkable; and the island a verdant garden blooming with food in every corner; we can’t glaze over the reality that emerged 12 years ago: this is a community that allowed child sexual molestation and rape to occur for many years.
The details of this investigation can be read online (they made a media frenzy). More than a dozen men were prosecuted and brought to justice. Now it remains to be seen whether this rule of law has lasting effect –and the community changes forever.
The locals believe a positive change is occurring. Pitcairn is already rising from that dark period in its existence. It will experience a renaissance driven by newcomers. In our crowded, modern world, people increasingly admire what Pitcairn has to offer: a simple healthy lifestyle, a real connection with your food, and beauty that your eyes can feast on.
As the night squeezed down on the horizon, like blowing candles out, the lights of Pitcairn disappeared. We were left, once again, alone under sail. We turned on our masthead light. Somewhere in the distance, Pitcairn has its own navigation light, steering a course into its unique future. We hoped our paths would intersect once again.