"In 1856 the British government tried to move the Pitcairn colony to the island of Norfolk. It was a noble idea. They thought the living would be better, so a lot of our people got aboard the Morayshire, sent out from Sydney. But a lot of them came back; you just can't leave your home like that. There are 78 of our people on Norfolk now and 150 here."
McCoy took me into his ham radio shack. On the walls were radio call signs from hundreds of other operators.
"I go on the air Tuesday nights," he said. "I keep in contact with hams everywhere. Right now I'm saving my pennies for a trip to the States. Vi and I have never been, but I've made so many friends over the radio I'd sort of like to see who they are."
We went back to the living room, and I spent two hours going through Floyd's very complete library on Pitcairn history.
"Nobody did much recording during the first years after Christian's landing," Floyd said. "Very few diaries and notes were kept. But later the history was pieced together and now we have a good idea what happened."
History officially began for Pitcairn in 1790 when Fletcher Christian sailed the Bounty from Tahiti, searching for a deserted island. He had already relieved Captain Bligh of his command; working the vessel with Christian were a midshipman, a botanist's assistant and six seamen who had helped him in the mutiny. There were 18 other people aboard. These extra passengers were Tahitians—Tahitian men to act as servants; Tahitian women to perpetuate a new race.
After nine months of sailing, the black hump of Pitcairn appeared, and Christian sent his men ashore to make an exploration. Pitcairn is two and a half miles long and a mile wide. The cliffs of the island were surmounted by a plateau indented with valleys of rich soil. Because of its location south of the Tropic of Capricorn, Pitcairn is free of the heat and humidity of true tropical islands. The air is sharp and dry, the rainfall light and the temperature warm but never oppressive—in all, one of the most favorable weather spots on the globe.
The mutineers, however, knew little of these gifts of Providence before they landed. Once ashore, they discovered that the island was uninhabited. They found coconuts, breadfruit, bird's eggs, plantains, wild yams and fresh-water streams. Pitcairn's cliffs, descending into a turbulent ocean, would discourage whaling ships and men-of-war from exploration. Stands of miro wood and heavy vegetation would hide the family dwellings. Christian predicted, and rightly, that his island would not be rediscovered for many years.
The 90-foot Bounty was stripped of all useful items and burned in the shallows of Bounty Bay. The mutineers believed there could be no escape from Pitcairn.