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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
May 29, 2017
Stanford@SEA: A Day on Palmerston
"Greetings to our guests and their families around the world. May Jesus bless them all." Nano Marsters calls with a smile from the front right corner of the Palmerston church. She wears a flowing orange dress and a white laced hat adorned with colorful flowers, through the window behind her, palm trees sway in the wind. The audience in attendance, about half from our ship and half from the island, filled the eight pew church on this sunny Sunday morning. For the next hour, sounds of English and Maori hymns emanated through the palms lined lanes and across the white sand beaches of the island.
Sunday for those living on Palmerston is a time for worship, food, and rest. On this Sunday, the community of Palmerston was generous enough to take us in to their homes treat us as adopted family. For some of the crew of the Seaman's this day began at one of the homes on the island. Families on Palmerston have offered us to stay in their homes on the island and so each night one of the watches gets to stay islandside while the other two watch the ship.
My Sunday began at five am with anchor watch. Anchor watch consists of using the GPS and visual markers to make sure the ship isn't moving from its mooring. It is especially important to keep a vigilant anchor watch here because we are only 0.08 miles from the reef crest, a stretch of exposed corals that have torn holes in many ships' hulls. A constant easterly wind is what keeps us pushed off towards the sea but the wind could change at any point. By 6:30 the ship woke up, and the smell of frying up eggs wafted from the galley. After breakfast small boats from the island came out to the ship to take crew members to church.
I got on board Edward's 20ft aluminum skiff and we were off. When we reached shore Mary Marsters was there to greet us and insisted her granddaughter Ester lay out chairs for us to sit on as the rest of the crew caravanned to shore on other aluminum small boats. Once we were all on shore those staying the night, A watch, stood at the front as the different families looked them over and chose who would be staying where for the
night. Then the rest of us were divvied up in the same way to different families that would be taking over for lunch after church.
I was taken in by Edward, Simon and Shirley Marsters who live over on the NW side of the island. At Simon's house Andrew, Nick and I were greeted with a table piled with eggs, papaya, ground coconut, and toast. Shirley made us sit down and eat. I got to talking with their son John about California and my family and dog back home (The island has no dogs).
At 9:45 Shirley declared that it was time for mass and inspected each of us to make sure we passed before we walked over. On the way to church, we caught up to Natasha, Hanna and Andrea, all who were wearing brightly colored hats borrowed from their host families.
Church, instead of lasting the four hours we had expected was done after only an hour of song and sermons. After, Simon and Edward greeted us back at their house with a table overflowing with food. There was goat, chicken, lamb chops, steamed mullet, raw fish in cocoanut milk, taro, mashed breadfruit and rice. Shirley announced that there was also a special treat to which David walked out of the house holding up three bottles of soda that came on the cargo ship over a month ago. Each time we cleaned our plates Shirley and Simon urged us to eat more.
After lunch I went for a walk along the picaresque beach, palm trees hanging over the crystal blue water. I turned in by the school to look at the new solar panel grid that powers the island and gives it 24 hour power instead of 6 hours per day. While I was walking through the town, I heard a voice calling from a coconut leaf thatched shack on the beach "Ay Chris, come grab yourself a coconut." Bob Marsters pointed to a basket under a palm tree overflowing with husked cocoanuts. I chose one and then Tepou showed me how to cut it and gave me a knife. I went over to a table where Mehau was doing homework and distracted her for a while by asking to read the packet she was working on.
Bob came over and said that he had set up a mat for me to take a nap on by where Sam and Mike were passed out in hammocks. I had laid down for about three seconds when I felt the full weight of a laughing four-year-old crash down on my back. A few seconds later his 7 year old sister came over saying, "Henry you can't play on Sundays" to which I asked if they wanted to draw. So for the next two hours we played pictionary in my journal with Denia coloring in all the drawings with her colored pencils.
At three I had to go Edward's for a ride back to the Seaman's since I had watch duties that night. Back on board, I found Charlie in the galley baking bread and helped to wash dishes and prepare dinner. After dinner, it was time to make cookies for the islanders who are coming on board tomorrow morning for tours of the ship.
Now it's almost 1 am and I am about to be done with this anchor watch and go to bed. Tomorrow morning I am excited to get our research underway and play volleyball with the locals. Until then, goodnight!