Palmyra Atoll was our last stop enroute to Hawaii from the Marquesas. The Atoll lies about 6 degrees north of the equator and is out of the cyclone belt so it is a logical place to wait for a weather window for the final sprint north.
During WW II and up to 1959, Palmyra was occupied by the US Navy as an airbase. In the above photo, you can see the blasted and dredged entrance channel to the inner lagoon running down and to the left in the photo. The channel was used by both ships and sea planes. While it appears easy to see in the photo, it is most difficult in real life and a mistake would be extremely costly as the water is ankle deep on both sides of the channel and the channel is barely wide enough for a boat. Currents sweep across the channel making it more difficult.
Those small bouys are the only markers.
Permission to come to Palmyra is difficult to obtain. It is run by the Nature Conservancy and the US Government as a wild life refuge and is an incorporated territory of the US (the only incorporated territory of the US in existence). Before landing, a permit must be obtained and the process requires that any visiting vessel go thru a certified de rat inspection and bottom cleaning at its last port of call before coming to Palmyra. We managed after considerable effort to obtain a permit and we were actually the first visiting yacht to arrive in Palymra in several years. Now Palmyra is primarily run as a research station with no permanent residents and a small rotating staff along with a few scientists.
Here we are being greeted by some of the staff and subsequently followed them on a safe path thru the shallow lagoon to the anchorage.
Palmyra does have an old crushed coral air strip and once every month or so, a benefactor flies supplies, staff and scientists in and out on his Gulfstream from Hawaii.
Some flights didn’t end so well as this old Lockheed Electra will attest to.
Palmyra does have a number of amenities. This is the Yacht Club.
And some of the treasures retrieved from around the island.
The Yacht Club Bar (every yacht club has to have one)
The old swimming hole.
Mark Fritzer displaying his athletic prowess at said swimming hole.
In addition to various research projects, one of the main scientific endeavors is to develop techniques to restore Pacific Atolls like Palmyra to their original state. This begins, strange;u enough, with eliminating cocoanut palms which are not indigenous and are extremely invasive. This is a long term goal and only a few area have been cleared as there are virtually millions of coconut palms. The second, which has been accomplished is to eliminate rodents – again an introduced species.
The result is a proliferation of bird life – which has both its good and bad sides.
It is hard to imagine just what a mess these fellows could make in a short period of time.
A walk around parts of the atoll revealed some of the old fortifications from WW II.
Along with other critters like this coconut crab.
This nursery for blacktop sharks on the north side of the atoll.
This eel eating another eel.
And large Manta Rays.
And lots of nice scenery.
I’ll close with a nice Palmyra sunset and a thank you to the folks on Palmyra.