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Pitcairn Islands Study Center

News - May 12, 2004

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  [California Study Center]


PITCAIRN ISLANDS STUDY CENTER, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California USA.

By Mike Warren, Pitcairn Islander

copyright 2004


ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., May 12, 2004—In a dramatic rescue on May 11 involving almost everyone on Pitcairn Island, two men were rescued from Gudgeon today.

Randy Christian and Dr Tom Scantlebury, hoping to spend approximately two hours on a tour around the Island in Randy's boat, found themselves struggling for their lives as their boat was capsized and smashed against the rocks.

The wind was almost dead calm and the seas were reasonably smooth when the two men decided it would be the perfect day to take the trip around the Island. Dr Tom, a Canadian who is on a three month contract to the Island as its doctor, had always wanted to make this trip.

The two men left Bounty Bay around mid-day. But an hour before sundown Dave Brown, who had just come ashore from fishing, noticed Randy's boat was missing from the boats shed. He informed Steve Christian who also had just come ashore from fishing and they set out in search for Randy.

While Steve took the easterly route around the two-mile long by one-mile wide island, Dave took the opposite route. VHF radio contact was made by Dave to Charlene Warren as to what was happening, and the search for Randy and Tom was under way.

Several folks soon made their way up toward the hills overlooking the south-east, south and western sea surrounding of the Island while many became involved in VHF radio relaying messages between Dave and Steve and those in the village who were standing by.

Gudgeon, a deep cave on the south of Pitcairn Island
Gudgeon is a deep cave on the south of Pitcairn Island in which entry can be made on a calm day by small boat. The entrance to the cave is low and often the incoming surf momentarily blocks off the cave entrance creating a "compression" effect inside. Inside, the cave is large and has a small, sandy beach.

Meeting at Gudgeon at almost the same time and with no sign of Randy's boat, Steve and Dave decided to check inside the cave for possible signs of the two men. But by this time the swells had picked up and entry into the cave was dangerous. With the sun now having set and darkness fast approaching, Steve quickly guided his boat inside the cave and found Randy and Dr Tom with their boat smashed. The two men cold and exhausted.

According to their report, the sea was calm as the two men approached the cave. While lingering outside the cave entrance an unexpected swell rose up, swamping the boat. Another swell rose up capsizing the boat and sending the two men flying overboard. With nowhere else to go the two men struggled to make it to safety inside the cave.

Inside the cave Steve was able to make a quick assessment of the situation. Bringing Randy safely outside the cave, he radioed for a longboat to be launched and brought around to assist in the rescue of Scantlebury. Meanwhile Randy was transferred to Dave's boat and rushed ashore unscathed.

A call was made by Jay Warren for any able bodied persons to crew one of the longboats. Shortly after launching it arrived at Gudgeon and the doctor was soon brought to safety. Although he had suffered some cuts and bruising to his head he is in excellent condition.

The latest is that Randy is home safe and warm and the doctor was at the Medical Center receiving some checks by Lyle, the pastor and former Medical Officer, before going home for a warm shower.