The adventure to this far away island began last week in Hawaii as we sat around the BBQ for our last crew dinner on land, reading the back of a potato chip packet. I can’t quote the exact words by Maui Onion Kettle Chips as we have since devoured those mouthwatering delights and I don’t have access to Google for a quick reference. It said something along the lines of ‘when you eat one of these chips, It will feel like you are sailing in crystal clear waters to a beautiful tropical island in the Pacific Ocean”. How appropriate, as that is precisely what we were preparing to do the following morning. However, I confirm that without doubt, we have proved that the potato chip company’s claim to be wildly inaccurate, because although those chips were dreamy, nothing, and I mean nothing can compare to this experience.
Anna called ‘Land Ho’ at around 14nm to our waypoint as an array of palm trees sprung from the ocean in the distance, the fist sight of land in five days. Five days of starry nights, glorious sailing conditions, no work emails, no cell phone reception and nothing but ocean on the horizon. We approached with a calm breeze and sunshine under full sail, with dolphins surfing our bow wave in the bluest of blue waters and a combination of Boobies and Terns welcoming us into their sanctuary. There is no potato chip on earth that could claim that feeling.
From the welcoming nature of the staff on Island to the welcoming nature itself, we feel like honored guests on safari in a magical wonderland that exactly fits every fantasy you have of a tropical island paradise in the middle of the Pacific. Rich has been like a kid in a chocolate factory. He is always the first in the water with his fins and snorkel by day and the last to say goodnight to the stars on deck by night. He has even calculated how many years it would take to study the right course in order to get an opportunity to come back and here to work on station. The excitement on his face at any moment constantly reminds us not only of how fortunate we are to experience this, but how fortunate we are that a place like this exists and how important the work that is being done here to preserve our planet. I personally have been thrilled with our first day snorkeling as I spotted our first curious grey shark, which I swear was almost as big as me, a huge amount of black-tip reef sharks, manta rays, turtles, endless species of fish and coral as far as the eye can see.
Besides the small group of researchers working on the Atoll and a catamaran in distress temporarily here for repairs, we have Palmyra all to ourselves to explore for the next few days. There have been endless boobie jokes as every adventure we set off for in the zodiacs, we are escorted to our destination by up to 30 friendly boobie birds, flying over our heads and only nearly missing us as they swoop down to check out the curious creatures. “We’re all just missing the boobies”.
Palmyra is one of those places that will go down in the memory books as a story to be told about this place we visited where nature represented a time before humanity dominated, as it is suppose to be and where it thrives with very little human impact. However, I do have to report that we did still see large amounts of plastic floating in the calm seas approaching the Atoll.
Thinking of adding Palmyra to the bucket list? Well, with no inhabitants and strict regulations on permits, there are only two options; by boat or chartering a flight for $37K. We are the first pleasure vessel to be granted entry since 2019, it really is unique. There are strict regulations in place for visiting yachts to protect the Atoll such as no overboard discharge. That means, with only a small holding tank to carry our waste, we are limited to fresh water showers on deck, no soap or shampoo, and all food scraps must stay with us until we leave.
We are off now to explore a snorkel sight named ‘Crazy Corals’.
Sea Dragon out.
(Blog by Maggie, photo by Jay Thompson)