We’re Adopted by Natives!!! Palmerston Island, Population: 35

We’re Adopted by Natives!!! Palmerston Island, Population: 35

It’s day two of our passage to Palmerston in the Cook Islands. It will be the most isolated island we have sailed to.

The tiny speck of palm fringed sand has no airport, no harbor and a dwindling population of 35 inhabitants. All descendants of one man and three wives. The only way to visit the island is to arrive by boat and be adopted by one of the families.

But, there is another high-pressure system nipping at our heels promising a solid week or more of 30-40 knots of sustained wind and building seas. So, we’re in for some turbulence.

Can you imagine being sooo secluded with 35 of your extended family members? Hundreds of miles of ocean between you, civilization, supplies, medical care and any other human.

sunset over the atoll at palmerston island in the cook islands

Even for us as sailors, living on a floating home, sometimes at sea for days on end, find this life hard to imagine. Our house moves, we can pick up and weather permitting, set off for civilization when we’re ready.

For Bob and his family, their only way on and off the island is on one of the supply ships. They have to plan months in advance to get off the island and it could take them months to get back. The words hurry, emergency, fast…they don’t mean much here.

But, in exchange for the inconveniences, they have a drastically different way of life. One they have chosen to maintain over the centuries, governed by them, for better or worse.

Its a fascinating case study and one I wouldn’t necessarily call utopia. But, with the right mindset perhaps it could be.

Being here is like crossing over into a parallel universe and one we feel overwhelmingly lucky to experience and share with you. Stay tuned, because next week we dive a lot deeper into the community and way of life here. It’s like stepping back in time…


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  • Nautical Miles Sailed: 240
  • Date: June/July 2019