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Pitcairn Islands Study Center

News - December 6, 2004

Contact Study Center:

PHONE: 707-965-6244
TEXT:   707-229-1340

Contact Herb Ford:
PHONE: 559-592-0980 or

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  [California Study Center]


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

Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.


ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., December 6, 2004—Multiple sea accidents at Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean have seen one severely injured islander evacuated to Papeete, Tahiti, major damage to one of the island’s longboats, minor injury to another islander, and loss of precious supplies for the island. The hospital at Papeete is some 1,200 miles from Pitcairn.

According to a report to the Pitcairn Islands Study Center, here, on Sunday, December 5, as Pitcairners were ferrying supplies from the supply ship Gambler to the landing at Bounty Bay the heavily loaded longboat O’Leary foundered in heavy seas on rocks guarding the small inlet on which the landing is located.

Image of the damage done to the O'Leary
The heavily damaged Pitcairn longboat O'Leary, having been pulled from rocks into which she crashed in heavy seas, is hauled onto the slipway at the island's boatsheds, her rudder completely gone, and large holes punched in her hull by the force of the crash.

[More photos of O'Leary accident]

Filled with drums of diesel fuel, timber and an assortment of supplies, the boat struck the rocks violently. The four island crew members dove overboard to avoid injury and were not injured. The vessel was bashed by huge waves, its engine shattered, with two large holes in its hull. Drums of fuel and timber were washed overboard, floating away, but unable to be saved by the crew of another longboat because of the heavy seas. According to the report, “The longboat is severely damaged. It is impossible to repair it on Pitcairn.” O’Leary is one of two longboats, a vital link between Pitcairn and the outside world since there is no harbor at Pitcairn and all persons and supplies coming or going must be ferried out to ships or on to the island by the longboats.

Shortly afterward O’Leary was smashed, as efforts were being made from shore to try to rescue her, Darralyn Griffiths, part of a group of islanders working to save the damaged boat, was struck by a heavy rope that suddenly came unstuck. The blow almost severed the woman’s right elbow, knocking her to the ground.

Rushed to the Pitcairn medical center, Mrs. Griffiths, was treated and later put aboard the ship Braveheart which was at Pitcairn for emergency evacuation to Tahiti. She is being taken to Mangareva, Gambier Islands, and from there will be transported by air to hospital in Papeete. She is accompanied by her husband, Turi Griffiths; Melva Evans; her father, Jay Warren; and the resident physician on Pitcairn.

As Mrs. Griffiths was being prepared for evacuation from the island to Braveheart standing off-shore, Mason Warren received a deep cut in his finger as he was working to prepare the longboat Moss for the evacuation of Mrs. Griffiths. He was treated and later released from the Pitcairn medical center.

The ship Gambler left Pitcairn with the Braveheart, bound for Mangareva where it will refuel Braveheart. Containers on board the Gambler will be arranged at Mangareva so that when it returns to Pitcairn there will be room to accept on board the damaged longboat O’Leary to carry it to New Zealand for repair if such is possible.

[More photos of O'Leary accident]