Photos - Palmerston - Part 1

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Fri 20 Aug 2010 20:00

Palmerston Atoll



We arrived just as the sun was coming up and what a show…





I have heard the term the sky looked like molten lava et voila.









The History


Palmerston Atoll started with William Marsters, a young Lancashireman who left England to sail the Pacific on the whaling ships to make his fortune.  He sailed the Pacific for a number of years passing Palmerston Atoll and then in 1862 he decided to live there.  He first visited Penrhyn Island to pick up his three new brides and started the Marsten dynasty.  William Marsters fathered 26 children, he divided the atolls and reefs into three sections for his three families.  The three families are still living on the atoll – there are about 50 people still left, many have moved to New Zealand or elsewhere in the Cook Islands.  The tradition of the Marsters families is to invite visiting yachts to join them for lunch and to get to know their families and the other families on the atoll.


Lot of Plumeria trees around the atoll.


 This is the old Marsters original home.









The headstone of William Marsters daughter, one girl.  There are family burial sites throughout the atoll, much more personal and an easy way to keep track of the three families.  The islanders all have nicknames.







This is our first look at our hosts, Bob and Taia, his 20 year old daughter.  They have friendly competitions amongst the three families; they watch for boats then see who can get to the sailing vessel first.  Bob introduced himself and his daughter, said to follow him to his mooring ball and when we arrived he told us Tere from customs would come to our boat at 11:00am and then he would take us to his home for lunch and a tour of the island.  We were not sure what we would find as listening to other yachties who preceded us said the competition was fierce amongst the three families and you couldn’t just wander around on your own, so we agreed and thanked bob for the invitation with this knowledge in the back of our minds.


Promptly at 11:20am Tere arrived to check into Palmerston Atoll and of course ensured we received our entrance and exit papers.  When he was finished Bob took us in his skiff and headed towards the island through a narrow entrance with coral heads all around and you really have to live here to know exactly where to go without hitting your motor on a coral head! 


When there is this much of a blank page you know another story will be coming…





Here we are gathered around the outdoor dining room, with another Yacht called Salachia, they were guests of Edward and Shirley.  We found out the competition is friendly and only to see who can spot a yacht coming in and get out there first.  We met cousins, aunts and uncles and they are introduced by their Christian name, Polynesian name and nickname.  By the time we got to the nickname, we couldn’t remember the first two names. 






The ‘lady in green’ is Tupou married to Bob and next to her is Shirley who is married to Edward, in the flowered shirt. Shirley and Tupou make the best donuts, Tim Horton couldn’t compete, and their pancakes are really really good, we ate a lot at every meal, Tupou gave me the recipe for the donuts and her bread, and we enjoyed two loaves of her bread on our journey to Niue.  The young fellow in front is Andrew or fondly known as Bury, who is eleven years old.  We would have liked to be part of his “Hair Cutting Ceremony”, it is the decision of the parents and the boys as to when they want to have their hair cut off, some choose five years old, some choose eleven years old.  The whole island is invited and the huge pig that they have been fattening up for a whole year is butchered and shared amongst the inhabitants of the island or atoll.  The families sometimes don’t have a pig large enough to feed everyone so they take a large pig from another family and pay them back when their pig is big enough. 

This is Andrew with his plait that most women would love to have.  He is playing ball with his sister Mehay, or Meow, she is eight years old.

Goldeen was named after her uncle who won the gold medal for boxing; she would like to become a flight attendant.

We met Meow whilst on our tour and she decided to tag along, until her big sister told her to get on home to give her mother the breadfruit she was waiting for. 






Bob Marsten, our host has about 100 chickens but they never have any chicken eggs, sometimes seabird eggs, why waste a hen on eggs when she will feed the family, meat, is their motto. I found it interesting how we listen and watch how they do things – thinking how they could be changed, and be more efficient, etc, like the chickens, with 100 chickens, why not have 10 hens for laying eggs - but then if every visitor changed just one thing about the atoll, it would no longer be what it is, a haven for visiting yachties to relax and enjoy the Marsten family hospitality, who are very laid back and enjoy their lives just the way they are.






Four of the one hundred.




The rule of thumb is the largest

bird is tomorrow’s dinner…




He was getting a little cocky.


The little chicks love to get inside the coconuts and hang out.


We went on a tour of the island with

Taia, was our guide, she showed us all of the important buildings and introduced us to the other two Marsten families.

 She had recently returned from New Zealand and was helping her father out for a few months before she returned to New Zealand to get a job.  Ti as she is fondly called would like to get into a job that involves computers or become crew on a large sail boat or motor yacht.