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  • Niki Harry

Pitcairn Island, Tahiti & The Mutiny of the Bounty

Updated: May 24, 2019

Wednesday Feb 27, 2019 After two more days at sea, we arrived at Pitcairn Island. Here also the ships have to anchor.

Pitcairn is a very isolated volcanic island in the south Pacific Ocean, 1,350 miles (2,170 km) southeast of Tahiti. Pitcairn Islands is a group of 4 little islands (Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno) but Pitcairn is the only inhabited island of the British overseas territory. The island is only about 2 square miles (5 square km) surrounded by coastal cliffs and a rugged half-crater with a height of about 1,100 feet (340 metres). Only 48 people currently live on the island. One of them, a direct 6th generation descendant of the mutineer of The Bounty, Fletcher Christian. In 1789, on a voyage from Tahiti to the West Indies with a cargo of breadfruit saplings, the crew, led by the first mate, Fletcher Christian, mutinied and set their captain, William Bligh and a number of sailors adrift. The mutineers and their new found Tahitian friends eventually reached uninhabited Pitcairn in 1790 and decided to make it their home. They didn't ever want to be found, so they burned the ship (The Bounty) and sunk it in the bay... what became know as Bounty Bay.

You can basically see the entire island here

A direct view of Bounty Bay. The village is to the right

The island does not have the infrastructure to accommodate groups of visitors. Here the captain and a few other guests from the ship were the lucky ones to go to shore and get a tour of the island.

Meanwhile, 25 of the locals from the island came on board with their goods and set up a market on the deck of the ship. They joked that it was 1/2 of their country (which it was!) They were such friendly, amazing people.

They were selling items such as beautiful wood carved bowls, platters, other carvings, jewelry, etc and of course their famous Pitcairn pure, raw honey. Unfortunately we were not allowed to bring it to French Polynesia with us as they had strict laws to make sure there was no cross contamination.

When we arrived to Papeete, Tahiti, on Wednesday March 6th, the big focus of the tour on the islands was of course all about The Bounty and James Norman Hall, the author of the story.

From 1926 to 1951 this was his home, now a museum. His daughter is still alive and resides in California but comes here often. Hall co-authored 12 books (with Nordhoff), The Mutiny of the Bounty being one of them. On his own, he wrote 17 books, countless essays, poems and at least one play. Nine movies were made from six books, including three versions of ''Mutiny on the Bounty'' and two of ''The Hurricane.''

The house was surprisingly quite small. It was not elaborate at all but built for comfort and practicality.

Inside was amazing. It was full of photographs, paintings, the original scripts, books and historical pictorials.

This is his actual desk area where he did most of his writings.

And his favourite chair & sitting area where he would read.

The books he wrote.

Below is the famous breadfruit tree. Breadfruit is a staple food on the islands that make up French Polynesia. The name was given because when it’s just ripe enough to eat, the cooked, starch-heavy fruit resembles freshly baked bread. It gets sweeter as it ripens, and can be prepared in many ways, including mashed, boiled, roasted and fried, or even raw. Some locals call breadfruit the ‘Tree of Life’, because it can provide so much for so many: both the fruit and the tree's young leaves are edible; the wood can be used to build homes and the traditional outrigger canoes; and the bark is even used to make clothes. The breadfruit plants were nearly destroyed when Fletcher Christian set William Blight afloat and threw all the plants into the ocean. But Blight made it to an island and eventually back to England and 2 years later he set out again to complete his mission of transporting over a 1000 plants to the West Indies.

Here is Matavai bay where William Bligh and his crew spent 5 months to obtain breadfruit plants for transport. Our guide is showing us a National Geographic magazine article from 1962 describing the events here and when the second movie was filmed.

Matavai Bay

This is where Point Venus is with its black sand beach with Matavai bay to the left. It is named this because James Cook's first voyage on the Endeavour, was to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus from the South Pacific. He anchored in Matavai Bay on 12 April 1769 and established an observatory, and a fortified camp called "Fort Venus", at Te Auroa, which they named "Point Venus".

After leaving Pitcairn Island, we were out at sea for another 2 full days before we arrived at Fakarava Island and finally in French Polynesia!

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