Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
NEW ROAD FOR PITCAIRN ISLAND
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., December 19, 2000—Pitcairn Island, the tiny, remote South Pacific isle to which mutineers on H.M.S. Bounty fled more than 200 years ago to escape from civilization, is today trying to get the world to come to it.
As one of an ongoing series of moves that will make the island more accessible to the outside world, bids are currently being sought through newspapers in Fiji, Tahiti and New Zealand for the construction of an all-weather surfacing of the island's washout-prone main road, and development of a permanent water supply.
The road construction will make access to Adamstown, Pitcairn's village, easier for visitors from cruise and other ships. And it will make less difficult the almost daily trek up and down the steep road by the Pitcairners to reach their boats and fishing canoes at the island boat landing.
The new roadway will take a huge work load off the few able-bodied among the approximately 50 persons on Pitcairn. Countless hours of work must now be given to repairing wash outs that all but cut passage on the road following the frequent storms that sweep over the little one by two mile island.
Other recent moves toward contact with the outside world have included the export of dehydrated fruits, and honey, and the worldwide sale of Pitcairn's ".pn" Internet suffix.
There is talk of constructing a small airstrip on Pitcairn that could bring tourists from Tahiti via nearby Mangareva in the Gambier Islands.
The strip could also be used for air evacuation of those on the island who fall seriously ill. Currently if a Pitcairner needs emergency medical evacuation it is done by ship, some 1,200 miles to hospital at Papeete, Tahiti, or more than 4,000 miles to New Zealand.
The road construction, which is expected to begin in April 2001, will be a difficult task. It calls for the laying of concrete from the island landing at Bounty Bay, up what the Pitcairners call their "Hill of Difficulty," with grades ranging between 30 and 35 percent, to the village.
The firm that wins the road bid must be prepared to crush rock on the island, even down to a size that will take the place of sand, since the small supply of sand available on Pitcairn is so salt-saturated it would be more trouble to gather and wash the salt from it than to crush rock to useable size.
It was in April 1789, that sailors on H.M.S. Bounty, mutinied against Captain William Bligh, and set him and sailors loyal to him adrift in a small boat among the Tongan islands. The mutineers, after returning to Tahiti where they had been gathering breadfruit plants to take to the West Indies, began searching for a safe island on which to hide from British naval authorities.
After searching among many islands, the mutineers, led by Fletcher Christian, master's mate of the Bounty, came upon Pitcairn island and made it their home. It was 18 years from the time of their arrival on Pitcairn until the outside world learned they were there.
Through many books and movies, the "Mutiny on the Bounty," has become one of the world's most best known and most famous sea stories.