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fishing with the locals in palmerston island

Real Life On A Remote Island

Palmerston Island is one of those places we’ll remember forever.  It’s the most remote place we’ve ever sailed, but that isn’t what makes it so memorable.  The islanders have completely immersed us into their world from the moment we set our feet in the sand.

When we decided to buy a boat and set off into the deep blue, I dreamed of all the possibilities and experiences we would have.  But I never expected it to play out so vividly in reality.

Yet, here we are, far away from civilization, living off coconuts and fish, playing with free spirited island kids and seeing firsthand what life is like when you live isolated with 34 of your relatives.

So, could you do it?  Could you live on a tiny remote island?

This was an eye-opening experience in so many ways.  My idyllic dream of living on a deserted island has been forever changed.  The realities of such a remote life are far more complicated than I ever imagined.

main street on remote island, palmerston island, cook islands

palmerston island delivery from container ship

remote island school in palmerston island, cook islands

kids playing soccer in palmerston island, cook islands

playing with island kids on remote island atoll of palmerson island, cook islands

Henry, local native boy climbing tree on remote palmerston island, cook islands

jason wynn relaxing in hammock on palmerston island, cook islands

 

Its not just the limited access to everything or the socialization aspect, it’s the bureaucracy of it all.  Here there are no political parties, just head of house representatives.

But, even with a tiny population of 35, the island council struggles to align on many ideals.  One wants to put fishing restrictions in place, the other doesn’t.  One wants to export coconuts, the other doesn’t.  One wants to put in a tiny airport, the other doesn’t.

Like most places in the world, creating change is hard.  And, in the process toes are stepped on, feelings are hurt and dividing lines between houses grow more prominent.

bob cleaning fish on palmerston island, cook islands

jason wynn capturing natives cleaning fish on palmerston island, cook islands

The population on Palmerston is dwindling but I can’t help but believe that in another 150 years, decedents of the Marsters family will still be here.  Drinking coconuts, fishing and welcoming sailors from around the world.  That is assuming the rising seas don’t swallow the island first.

 

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  • Nautical Miles Sailed: 240
  • Date: July 2019

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (36)

  • Alan-Claudia

    LOVE THESE ISLANDERS. We have been swept away by your lifestyle! LOVE everything so far! THANKS SO much for every video. SO much FUN. Your videos are BETTER than all the rest. We have just begun watching – we look forward to a new one every morning and evening. LOVE THIS. We have read a lot about SAILING and now we are SIMPLY ENJOYING BEING THERE TOO. LOVE seeing all that BLUE. Please send us an email – we have a simple sail boat question to ask you. Thanks.

    reply
  • Betty

    i just finished watching your video…so lovely!! Thank you!!

    reply
  • Brenda Jones

    Do they enforce the Mormon laws including no alcohol? If so, I can see why he wanted the booze in lieu of money. Hope he doesn’t get found out by your video.

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      According to the Googles the church is part of the Cooks Island Christian Church association, which is a reformed Christian sect and what most churches in the Cooks are. Polygamy is part of many Polynesian & SE Asian cultures so would have been par for the course back when the island was settled. I know that here in the U.S.A., the LDS used to distribute free Bibles to lots of places, including hotel rooms and the like. Makes me think that these Bibles were simply a part of their missionary outreach? But that’s just a guess.
      Curious Minion

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  • Michael

    Pretty sweet!

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  • Deborah Kerr

    These are the pictures from my 5th grade Geography text-book come to life!! I remember as a youngster looking deep into the pictures trying to feel what it would be like to be there with the remote, uncivilized , palm trees rather than my everyone-is-the-same school/neighborhood in Ohio!! I love the up close and personal experience that you are sharing with us!! Thank you…. 🤗

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  • Steve Lockhart

    If you happen to get by Enewetak Atol (Enetetok – another spelling) could you take some pictures. I spent 6 months on the Atoll in the mid 70’s doing radialogical cleanup. Would love to go back and see how things are.

    The island of Japtan is interesting with black topsoil carried in the holes of cargo ships from Europe as ballast then spead on the island to improve the coconut (copra) harvest. The coconut trees were planted in straight lines as if laid out by using a sextant. Japtan was also covered with sand from Nevada for testing before moving the nuclear testing to Nevada. Interesting place.

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Enewetak+Atoll,+RMI/@11.5167009,161.9570076,10z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x64341dfe43b427af:0x6e403ef696cf0656!8m2!3d11.4712773!4d162.28375?hl=en&authuser=0

    https://www.dtra.mil/Portals/61/Documents/NTPR/6-Enewetak/DTRA%20ECUP%20Fact%20Sheet_Mar2017-Final.pdf?ver=2018-04-02-140704-980

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  • Jeffrey Stenberg

    I’m with Hunter, very Zen. A wonderful peaceful getaway from my busy days. Definitely living great experiences through you. I would still need more variety of balance in my life. Thanks for sharing, very special.

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  • Ben Kokenge

    Best video yet!

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  • Steve Nicholls

    Thankyou , Wynns! Again.

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  • Jon Dude k

    Another great video. Your craftsmanship keeps getting more and more polished.

    Now several questions;

    Was the coconut meat sweeter as well or was it just the milk?

    In a different blog (maybe “Bumfuzzle”?) they were able to enter and anchor in the lagoon. Has something changed?

    When you two talk about the time you spend editing, is that largely your own stuff or are you doing a fair amount of outside production? (I would guess inconsistent download/upload capability is your largest handicap to doing outside stuff)

    I second any of Rick Ramsey’s questions that you can answer.

    Lastly, any new news on the fishing front?

    Thanks again for vlog that one looks forward to viewing

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  • LA

    You guys never cease to amaze us! Thank you for such incredible camera work, magical sun, wind, palm tree shots, music & editing.
    Wow!

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  • Roger B

    The simple life. Yes or no?

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  • Chip Osborn

    Hi Jason. I am your smallest Patreon, but I leave a tip in the tip jar when I buy something you recommend. I’ve been following you since your RV days. (I now own my 5th 25 ft Leisure Travel Van…2020 Unity Murphy Bed)

    I am concerned about your sea sickness. I get sea sick and I also take lots of ocean cruises. My absolute cure is an RX called Scopolamine Transdermal Patch. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682509.html You must have heard about this. I share my extra patches with those who are very sick during a cruise. It has never failed to “cure” them within an hour or so.

    Be cautious when using the patch because it uses Scopolamine which is a “truth serum”. Nikki could learn interesting things about you. Cordially and best wishes….

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  • Ed Grant

    What an idyllic island paradise but being spoiled by the so called modern commodities of the outside world. Not keeping the farming traditions alive and active, they are doomed to lose that special uniqueness that is Palmerston and what a pity that will be. Your “family” treated just that way, like a member of theirs, not asking for anything but respect for them and their ways. Amazing that the solar facility had reached this tiny little speck in the ocean and that “safe house” looked to be built to withstand just about anything Mother Nature sent their way. Question about their sanitary facilities, were there any?(ie. septic or otherwise?) Thank you both for sharing this very wonderful experience with us all. To the People of Palmerston, I will keep you in my heart forever!

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  • Alan Solomon

    Incredible adventure in this video. WOW. I thought the pollination story was incredible. Amazing stuff. They only pollinate like that in science. Who would have thought you would find pollination like this on Palmerston. The thing that came to mind for me, watching the kids playing was, I wonder if the kids or their parents would ever want the kids to go to school beyond Palmerston or college possibly but, then I thought how could these kids ever leave their home, this island, their parents and everything they are familiar with on Palmerston. Anywhere else for them would be an opposite extreme of some sort.
    I never knew Palmerston was there and definitely was not aware how the island and people there came about. I hope it stays innocent and stays quiet so, residents can only here the waves crashing for a long time to come. I have a feeling that it will. I am happy, grateful and thankful you sent it to me. Thanks. Onward, safe and free.

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  • Scott & Bre

    I’m confident this stop on your journey will represent one of your most meaningful experiences.

    A touching and moving video for me, and I find myself wishing to experience the solitude and simplicity of Palmerston.

    Scott

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  • Lewis Barnes

    Hey Guys that was a very lovely video, I liked the way you guys just let the locals more or less do most of the video and you guys were just in the background, A few years ago my wife and I went to a small pacific Island and then paid a local to take us to the Mounting village’s away from the tourist area’s, And friends of our’s told us to take a box of school exercise book’s, Pencils, erase’s the just basic School supplies, The Village was so grateful the Chief invited us for lunch,
    Once again keep up the good work.

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  • Rick Ramsey

    The part I have been trying to figure out is where did they get the money for big items. The money to build the storm center, or money to buy the big water tanks and solar cells. Boats, motorcycles and wheelbarrows. You said they just sell fish to make money. That would have to be tons of fish each month to pay for all the big stuff. Plus all the gas and food that they use everyday. It would be great if you could address the other ways they purchase all the items you see around on the island. Must have been a lot of fish for that printer.
    Thanks much. Fantastic video.
    Rick

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  • Yvan

    What an adventure! This is so… foreign that I was out of my comfort zone – so thanks for this incredible video (really). I didn’t even know there were still such places on our small planet…
    The final shot (your catamaran in the sunset) was B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

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  • Kurt Nielsen

    With one man and 3 wives, is there any problems with inbreeding?

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    • Curious Minion

      According to a reply by Nikki, the original settlers made it a rule that you have to marry off-island, and so most of the older kids go to Rarotonga or NZ for education & to meet other people.

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  • Paul

    Very cool, what an experience!!

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  • Audrey

    I love following your journey. I live vicariously, making notes of places I’d like to visit when given the chance. Your tenacious spirit and openness to whatever may come, is admirable and inspiring.

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  • Laurence

    Whew, good job keeping the bourbon and gin out of sight!

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  • Orrie E Allen

    I grew up in Hawaii in the 60’s and this brought back loads of great memories. Mahalo.

    reply
  • JOHN SCHRETLEN

    “Thank you for sharing your world with us Palmerston; we won’t soon forget you.”

    That’s a Two Thumbs Up comment as the most fitting to this excellent video.

    reply
  • Michael Magill

    Jason and Nikki, what a beautiful video to share with us and the world to see what exactly a island that no one visits is like. One family inhabits the whole island, and I think ican speak for everyone, that this island is onje place I would like to visit and stay for a while. Life is very simple and there is no hurry to get things done, no Tv, no Grocery Store, No gas Station, and the children can be like Children. Where else could yo find this innocence. Thank you for letting us tag along, this one was one of your best ever!!

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  • Ron

    Great video. Made me do some more research into the island. Thanks for sharing something new.

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  • Phil

    Wondering if anyone who has a boat can visit and stay on the island, or did you have to make arrangements somehow? Although, not sure how you would tell them you are coming?

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      • Nay

        So glad to hear that people can’t just intrude. I LOVED the video, but the first thing I thought was what negative affects will this have on these people?

        reply
  • Carol McCarty

    Yikes!! Is my spelling atrocious. Think I could join the kids in their classroom?

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  • Carol McCarty

    Wow! I’m not even with you guys and I hated to “leave” myself. The coconut and fresh fish madd my mouth water. And the children were so adorable. To see them running and playing outside rather than their noses stuck in a video game was so wonderful! It sure would be nice if there could be a way to join their way of life with the future but somewhere along the line they will lose something and usually it’s people. I’d take fresh fruit over potato chips any day! Thank you so much for allowing us to join is your travels. I look forward to yhem every week. It’s a tiny little break from being land locked!! Blessings to you both!

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  • Hunter

    Your videos are providing some much needed zen moments. Love you guys!

    reply

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