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Old 11-09-2013, 10:36   #1
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Visiting Palmyra Atoll

Hello all,

As I am prepareing for my next leg of adventure, I have decidid the next stop from Hawaii will be Palmyra Atoll. It is supposed to be lush and tropical and cursed. I do love a good adventure. I will leave in the spring after hurricane season.

Has anyone been there? If so, a great report about anchorages and such would be greatly appreciated. Any other details would also be nice.

The Witchdoctor
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Old 11-09-2013, 10:50   #2
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

You need to read And the Sea Will Tell on your way there. Great true story about the murder of an elderly cruising couple that took place on Palmyra back in the 1970's.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:05   #3
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

Wow, looks very interesting on google earth & c map chart....great detail, boat channel and good protection inside the lagoon...even an airstrip!
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:43   #4
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

I'm currently at sea so I don't have google earth, but I look forward to learning more. I have written to get permission to go there. I can't wait to get the boat sailihng again.

I did read about the murder on the island. That just makes it another unusual place to anchor.

The Witchdoctor.
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Old 11-09-2013, 16:55   #5
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

"Sailing and Motorboating
With prior approval by the USFWS, privately owned vessels are permitted access to the atoll for up to 7 days to see and enjoy the natural resources of the refuge. A maximum of 2 vessels are allowed at one time and up to 6 yachts may visit in a month. Private vessels must have U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved holding tanks for sewage and an appropriate and current USCG inspection certificate. Additional precautions include the need for visiting yachts and ships to have clean hulls free of fouling organisms prior to entering the reefs and West Lagoon at Palmyra."

Hope it works out for you. Several of my friends sailed there in the early 80s and I'm still in touch with one of them.

The control of the island has changed and the freedom there once was no longer exists but still would be a great place to sail to.
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Old 11-09-2013, 20:53   #6
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

Medecrene, do some more research. The hurricane season starts in late spring/early summer. They are rare in your area, but can happen. They are more common in late summer, but the old saying that JUNES TOO SOON is not always true. Check your pilot charts. Pay your dime and take your chances. _____Grant.
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:13   #7
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

check out washington atoll,christmas island and kanton atoll,much better than palmyra and no permit needed
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Old 12-09-2013, 04:23   #8
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Have a friend who lived on Palmyra as a kid when his dad was stationed there. Sounds like it was a fun place for a kid...or a cruiser!
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:32   #9
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Have a friend who lived on Palmyra as a kid when his dad was stationed there. Sounds like it was a fun place for a kid...or a cruiser!
The Navy left there in '47 but the airstrip still survives to some degree. There was a group of Nature Conservancy and Science related individuals stranded there when weather would not allow a plane to come pick them up. That was pretty recent news.
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Old 12-09-2013, 17:38   #10
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

Yes," And the Sea will Tell" may be the best read for a cruising sailor ever. Very well told and a good deceptive story too; I still get shivers when i think about these murders.
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Old 12-09-2013, 19:07   #11
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

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Originally Posted by mrohr View Post
Yes," And the Sea will Tell" may be the best read for a cruising sailor ever. Very well told and a good deceptive story too; I still get shivers when i think about these murders.
Thanks for the recommendation. In return, read The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. It's about the first round the world race, and Mr. Crowhurst tried to win the race without actually sailing around the world. Ended up going mad and jumping off the boat holding the ship's clock. Quite a compelling read....
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Old 06-08-2016, 23:11   #12
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

I sailed to Palmyra the 1st time in 1985 and stayed there for 3 months (after meeting the owners of the island and getting permission). In 1994, I sailed to Palmyra again and stayed for 5 weeks.

A lot has changed since those days. The Fullard Leo family sold the Islands to "The Nature Conservancy" in 2000. Since then, the air-strip and docks have been restored. Proper infrastructure for a research center has been built and there are rules for visiting yachts. Check this out in advance.

Contrary to a previous post about Palmyra....... I have been to all of the Line Islands and Palmyra is BY FAR the most fascinating. Fanning was great but not the adventure and history of Palmyra. You couldn't PAY me to go back to Christmas Island. Flat, boring, desert like and the villagers don't want you there. Anchorage is iffy (open road-stead).

Just for the record........ the US Navy occupied Palmyra until 1956. The Fullard-Leo family almost went broke trying to get the Navy to leave Palmyra after the war was over in 1945. The island was conscripted for the war effort and was used as a submarine re-fueling station. The Fullard-Leo family had to spend a lot of money on legal fees to get them to leave. A short time before a final court decision was to be handed down, the navy abandoned everything on the island, loaded the 3,000 troops on ships and left. The Fullard-Leo family sued for the navy to clean up the island and that was never done.

The US Gvm't offered the family $3M (if I remember correctly) for the island with the intent of making it a nuclear waste dump. The family turned the offer down. There were other offers also. I believe that Japan wanted to buy it to build a space-craft launching center because it was so close to the equator.

Over the years, many tragedies transpired on Palmyra and the family was sued for ridiculous things like...... a guy flew a twin engine Beach Bobanza from Hawaii to Palmyra (without asking the owners of the island) and tried to land on the overgrown runway (DUH!!!). They crashed the plane and ended up stranded on the island. The airplane was still there when I was there in 1985. They sued the family for "Not maintaining the runway"....... as ridiculous as that sounds, they had to spend lots of $ defending themselves against this suite. There were also a few yachties that were injured on the island and ended up suing.

The Fullard-Leo family then hired a care-taker (Roger, on yacht "CousCous") to try to keep some order on the island. Roger lived on the island for 3+years (longer than anyone, I believe). He was then relieved of duty when the island was finally sold.

There were several buildings on the main island with a fully stocked machine shop. I even used the hydraulic ram in a HD grader to straighten my bent rudder shaft. There is a fully stocked hospital on one of the islets. It was built out of 6' thick, steel reinforced concrete (Quonset hut style) and it was quite large (approx 6,000 sq ft interior) but yet so over-grown it was almost impossible to find. There were large gun emplacements along all of the beaches.

Palmyra is truly a magical place and well worth the stop, if you can get permission.
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Old 06-08-2016, 23:38   #13
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Re: Visiting Palmyra Atoll

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrohr View Post
Yes," And the Sea will Tell" may be the best read for a cruising sailor ever. Very well told and a good deceptive story too; I still get shivers when i think about these murders.
Interestingly enough...... when I returned to Hawaii, after my 1st circumnavigation, I moored my yacht in Keehi Lagoon (1988). About 1990-91, The State put in their own moorings and we were all forced to rent those and assigned a mooring ball. Oddly enough, the yacht from the story "The Sea Will Tell" was placed on the mooring directly down wind from me. (I don't remember her name unfortunately)..... I am sure that when she was in her glory, she was a beautiful wooden ketch. However, after years of abandonment, she suffered neglect and her hull was rotting through at the water line. Every time that the wind shifted to the south and blew hard, that boat would take on water and sit lower in the water. I complained long and hard to the Harbor Master to no avail. One day during a Kona storm, I watched her sink and I had to move off my mooring because when the wind shifted, I would be sitting right on top of her.
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