Wednesday, June 9, 2010

South Pacific Survey 30th June 1951

Up bright and early this morning and it is a big day for Samoa being Sunday. On the way out the fires were already lit cooking food for Sunday's feast and the smoke hung heavily amongst the coconut palms. The first car ran over a pig, which lay bleeding on the road.

We loaded the "loot" up with the baggage and thus set off to lift it out only some 1686lbs over loaded but fuel is of prime importance on this trip and in event of any difficulty at Papeete I want to be able to fly to Aitutaki with a safe margin of fuel to do so. Arrived with approx 400 gals giving 6 hours range, this being 4.05 to Aitutaki + 2 hours reserve.

We flew around the coast to the east, then over PagoPago to have a look. My impression is that it could be operated if necessary.

We flew on to Palmerston Atoll, a circular reef with about four small islands which could be inhabited. It is said that a family of Masters who were ship wrecked there in the 18th century live there and that the old English language is still spoken there.

A Mr J. Kensington, an American colonel of the last great war living in Aitutaki is married to one of these women who I suppose are coloured, or half caste. She is, or was, a Mrs Masters. When the island, (ie Palmerston) population of Masters increased beyond a certain number, the old Master tells certain of his family to go, and not come back. This must be hard, but necessary as the islands will only support so many, and no more.

After a good look at the Island we had to clear off to Aitutaki to arrive before dark by an hour. The reason was that navigating the boat channel in the dark was dangerous because of the coral heads.

We arrived over Aitutaki and wasted no time in landing for the above reason, and moored without incident. Then commenced the long plod up the harbour or lagoon and we just made it in the rapidly gathering dusk.

This place is indeed out in the sea with little of enough of it above sea level. The highest point being approx 400 feet. Had a meal in the Public Works Mess and met a few people and went to bed as we have to be up early in the morning to get to Papeete. They say this place is infested with rats, and dont care awfully much for the idea.

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