Palmerston, Cook Islands
A true atoll, Palmerston Island consists of a number of sandy islets on a continuous ring of coral reef enclosing a lagoon. The largest of the islets include Palmerston, North Island, Lee To Us, Leicester, Primrose, Toms and Cooks. The total land area of the islets is approximately one square mile. The coral reef covers about 3,600 acres. The lagoon is some seven miles across, covering an area of nearly twenty two square miles. There are several small passages through the reef for boats, though there is no safe entry for large ships. At a latitude of 18 degrees south, Palmerston enjoys a tropical climate but is exposed to severe hurricanes. A particularly destructive series of storms occurred during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
All the islets are wooded with coconut palms, pandanus and native trees. There is some natural ground water on Palmerston but water captured from rainfall is preferred for drinking. Shellfish inhabit the reef, and fish are abundant although there are concerns about overfishing.
The population consists of approximately fifty inhabitants, all descended from an Englishman named William Marsters, he arrived from Manuae in 1863, a ship's carpenter and barrel maker. The economy is based on fishing, tourism, copra, and bird feathers, though Palmerston’s extreme remoteness makes a cash market difficult to maintain. Electricity and other modern utilities are available on the island. A recently built telephone station provides the only permanent link to the outside world and a good internet connection. The island has no airport or regular air service, but cargo ships visit a few times a year. Like us, yachts are asked to deliver goods from Aitutaki, boats coming from Rarotonga are asked to bring mail and supplies.
The ancient name of the island was supposedly Avarau, meaning “two hundred harbour entrances.”
History: Palmerston was discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, but he did not land on the island until the 13th of 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.
Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston FRS (4th of December 1739 – 16th of April 1802). He succeeded to the peerage in 1757, and was educated at Clare College, Cambridge from 1757 to 1759. As a member of the British House of Commons, he represented the constituencies of East Looe between 1762 and 1768, Southampton between 1768 to 1774, Hastings between 1774 and 1784, Boroughbridge between 1784 and 1790, Newport, Isle of Wight between 1790 and 1796, and Winchester between 1796 and his death in 1802.
He was appointed to the Board of Trade in 1765, was a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty between 1766 and 1777, and was a Lord of the Treasury from 1777 to 1782.
In 1763 Temple journeyed to Italy, staying with Voltaire at Ferney en route. He reached Rome in 1764, and from there visited Paestum, south of Naples. He bought antiquities and paintings from Gavin Hamilton, antiquities from Giovanni Battista Piranesi, paintings from Angelica Kauffman, cameos from Giovanni Pichler and sculpture from Joseph Nollekens. Temple married in 1767, but his wife died suddenly in 1769. He died on the 16th of April 1802. A portrait of Henry Temple by Angelica Kauffman is held at Broadlands, Hampshire.
His son, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century, this statue is in Parliament Square.
At eleven we were sitting quietly on a buoy owned by Simon’s brother.
ALL IN ALL LOOKING FORWARD TO EXPLORING THE ISLAND