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News Release

Santa is riding a 25,000-ton sleigh to tiny, remote Pitcairn Island

ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., December 23, 1998—Santa is riding a 25,000-ton sleigh to tiny, remote Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean this year, and while the handful of youngsters on the island are hoping he'll make it on time, there may be complications with the "sleigh" that will rob some of them of their expected toys.

The sleigh in this case is the Blue Star Lines' 24,907-ton Sydney Star. According to a report reaching the Pitcairn Islands Study Center on the Pacific Union College campus here, she is plowing her way from New Zealand through the 4,300 miles of ocean to Pitcairn with three containers of food, other supplies and toys for the islanders.

The complication? Because of a mix-up in loading the container ship in New Zealand, two of the containers are buried beneath stacks of other loaded containers. There is no way to get at the two containers while the ship is at sea.

Putting the best spin on the situation, Pitcairn Commissioner Leon Salt said, "Fortunately, the one with almost all of the food supplies and most of the Christmas presents should be able to be discharged at Pitcairn." Barring unforseen adverse sea conditions, the ship should arrive at Pitcairn on December 22.

But what of the few toys that are in the two buried containers?

They will have to be carried on through the Sydney Star's other destinations. Then they'll be "relocated on the vessel for discharge at Pitcairn on the return voyage on about January 30."

Neither Commissioner Salt nor the Pitcairners are complaining though. Given the difficulty of finding ships that will carry supplies to the island, they are happy for the Blue Star Line's helping out.

"If, as suspected, a few of the toys won't arrive until January 30 or afterward," we'll just have a sort of second Christmas then," said Tom Christian, Pitcairn's radio officer.

In 1790, Pitcairn was occupied by nine sailors who had mutinied against Captain William Bligh aboard H.M.S. Bounty in 1789, and a number of accompanying Tahitians. It was nearly two decades after the island's occupation that British authorities discovered it had become the hide-out of the mutineers.

Today most of the 55 people on the island are sixth, seventh, and eighth generation descendants of the mutineers. The island is located about mid-way between Panama and New Zealand.



Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504, Email:, Website: