Palmerston Island

Moxie - Beck Family Adventure
Mike, Denise, Asia and Aranya Beck
Thu 14 Aug 2014 03:26
18.02.77S 163.32W
13 Aug 2014

Palmerston island was first populated by William Marsters, a religious Lancashire sea captain, and three wives that he brought with him from Penrhyn (commandments stretched there?) Marsters fathered 26 children and the island population (51) are largely descendants, 4th and 5th generation. The original Marsters house is still standing and in good repair, being made from the massive beams of shipwrecks, it will be there for some time yet. No one seems to know what happened to Marsters' ship, we presume it sailed off without him.

Life on the island is surprisingly modern, there is an island generator with underground power and telephone cabling to all houses, cheap broadband Internet is cheaply available via a telecom wifi hotspot and we received a good signal from the boat using our left over wifi credit from Aitutaki. A large area of land has been cleared for the installation of a solar power farm. There are several petrol scooters and a couple of very, very nice houses on the island. Palmerston clearly benefits from large amounts of foreign assistance. The islands only source of income is from parrot fish which are free of ciguatera and exported frozen to Rarotonga 2 or 3 times a year. For many, the primary occupation seems to be sitting in the shade.

Several mooring bouys are maintained by locals and situated on the outside of the reef, there is no way to get a yacht inside of the atoll. The reef shelves very steeply so tied to an 8 metre deep mooring our stern was in 80 metres. The locals advised dropping the anchor to hover above the reef so as to catch the boat should the wind change and push us toward the it. On the mooring in an easterly you would be extremely, indeed uncomfortably, close! Although uncomfortable with the dual anchor approach on our second night the wind turned north east pushing us toward the reef and we did as advised. Of course what happened next was that the boat swang into much much shallower water and we wrapped the chain around coral and were stuck fast and tight being snubbed directly below the boat. There was nothing to do but put out more chain and wait for morning, with backburning concern about a potential deep dive to retrieve the anchor next morning. As it turned out the next day we did manage to free the hook without diving it, but that was enough excitement for us and although we had made arrangements to stay another day we had tainted the experience and so opted instead to leave.

Our hosts ashore were Edward Marsters (the local cop) who owns the mooring we used (edwardjohndickmarsters at hotmail dot com), and his brother Simon. Edward collected us from the yacht in his 18 foot tinnie. Trying the reef 'pass' in our own dinghy would be foolish, even as we went through with Edward it was hard to spot the extremely narrow and dog legged gap. The brothers gave us lunch of parrotfish and an island tour, later we walked around the island spotting several moray eels lounging in ankle deep water. The girls found a shark carcass on the beach and extracted a few sharp teeth.

Fees Aug 2014 NZD

25 boat clearance
25 per person immigration
20 Heath certificate
20 bio security certificate
5 per person local council landing fee
10 per day mooring

Having checked in to Cook Islands already we just paid local council and mooring, they accept USD and Euro. Wifi can be purchased online, you can access that page for free.

Mike, Denise, Asia and Aranya Beck
SV Moxie