by Yvonne Marsters, Principal Palmerston Lucky School - 2004-2013
“Hello, are you going to Palmerston?”
“No, sorry, we are going direct to Niue. Did you want to send some cargo to Palmerston?”
“No, actually, I am looking for a ride. I am the Principal of the school and I need to get back home.”
I am standing on the wharf in Rarotonga, six yachts are lined up tied to the wharf, bobbing up and down in the gentle movement of the waves. I’ve just been told the two cargo boats which are supposed to be leaving this week going north passing through Palmerston, are full and cannot take any more passengers. My daughter, Shekinah, and I are in Rarotonga after having returned from a time in NZ, and are wanting to go back home, to Palmerston. After a short chat with the captain of the boat, it appears they are in a hurry to get to Tonga to deliver the boat they are sailing on behalf of the owner. I’ll try again tomorrow. Fortunately, the following day, I met Barbara. She didn’t didn’t immediately say “no”, but rather that she and her husband Lionel would be leaving the next day, Wednesday, on their yacht “Sea Whisper” and were planning to call through Palmerston on their way west. She would talk to her husband who was currently off the boat, and if I called back later in the afternoon, she would let me know.
Wednesday morning at 9.00 am, Shekinah, my 16 year old daughter, and I, were at the wharf with our carry bags and a few treats for on the way. The previous 18 hours we had very little sleep as we organised our departure – arranging for someone else to house sit the house we were staying in, packing our suitcases and organising for our cargo to be transported to Palmerston on one of the cargo ships, parking the vehicle at the airport ready for its owner’s return, and getting ourselves and our gear down to the wharf. Our send-off party included my best friend, Helen with a delicious bag of goodies for us for the journey, my girlfriend and ‘cousin’ Nane with her two grandchildren, my niece Marama who normally lives on Palmerston, and Uncle Tom and Aunty Margaret – my original connection to the Marsters’ family from Palmerston Island. They were visiting Rarotonga from New Zealand, to attend the swearing in of the new Queen’s Representative, TomTom Marsters. With our unexpected departure we would miss out on attending this memorable occasion, but with the end of the yacht season coming closer and no prospect of catching a cargo boat, our priority was to get home.
Ten oclock we were on our way, motoring out of the narrow harbour entrance, on a relatively smooth sea, not really looking forward to the two day journey but looking forward to getting home. Shekinah had taken her medication and I had my ‘patch’ firmly stuck behind my ear – 10 years of living on Palmerston and travelling back and forth had not improved my stomach’s reaction to the sea!! At least we had found something that made the trip bearable and not a blur of seasickness.
Barbara and Lionel were great hosts. We had a cabin to ourselves with our own ‘ensuite’ – not that we spent much time downstairs. Most of the time we were on deck enjoying the fresh air and watching the horizon – the best medicine for coping with quizziness. This was the fourth time I had been on a yacht and the third time for Shekinah, apart from the ‘Southern Cross’, a yacht that had frequented Palmerston over the last five years and on which we had travelled several times.
We enjoyed lovely meals prepared by Barbara and they enjoyed hearing about our lives on Palmerston.Friday morning we spotted the first islet in the distance – Tom’s - and by midday we were on our mooring. Tere, my husband and Shekinah’s Dad, was right there with Arthur, the Executive and Immigration Officer, Maca, the Fijian Nurse for Health clearance, and Simon, a Council Member.