Palmerston - General Info

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Photo © Bill Bourlet

COVID-19:  CLOSED

While limited maritime borders reopened on 1 May, 2022, Palmerston Island remains closed. No approval will be granted to any vessel seeking to visit Palmerston Island. At this stage Palmerston Island Government does not have the capacity to satisfy national health, biosecurity, customs, immigration and security agencies processes. This will be reviewed again in 2023.

See Formalities for a list of all possible ports of entry at this time.

Description:

This remote atoll is one of the friendliest places cruising sailors will encounter during their Pacific voyage. The descendants of William Marsters, who settled this atoll in 1863 with his 3 wives, his 17 children (at the time,) and 54 grandchildren, have traditionally welcomed seafarers for many years.

Once a rarely visited place, Palmerston Atoll attracted an unprecedented influx of 108 boats in 2010 (as reported in Jimmy Cornell’s Global Survey) and continues to see a great many visitors for such a small island.

The Islanders are extremely friendly and every yacht is hosted by a different family for the duration of their stay. In general, just make your needs known and the Islanders will find means to accommodate you.

Bringing Supplies

The island is very isolated and a supply boat only comes once every 2-3 months. The Islanders, therefore, appreciate it if cruisers are able to carry packages (food) if coming from Aitutaki or Rarotonga. Anyone willing should contact Palmerston Island Administration – email: [email protected], giving as much notice of the expected departure date as possible. The Island Administration will contact family members who will bring supplies for you to take to Palmerston (such as eggs, fruit, and vegetables).

Gifts of fishing hooks and lures, school supplies or staples are very much appreciated.

Feedback from Cruisers who have visited Palmerston

Position:  18° 02’31″S, 163° 11’39″W


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Palmerston was last updated 11 months ago.

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  1. April 28, 2022 at 12:08 AM
    lyndalim says:

    Received from Olivier at AVP in French Polynesia via email:

    A friend’s catamaran (Oxygen) stopped at Palmerston on April 18th/19th, arriving at night.

    They found the moorings field, and tied to a first mooring, which immediately broke its line. A second mooring also broke its line right away.

    The owner then decided to anchor, but for the first time in over 6 years, the anchor dragged (thankfully on all three occasions, the boat drifted away from the reef).

    The 4th attempt was successful and after a short night’s sleep, they were told (as half expected) that they were not allowed to disembark.

    They proceeded to raise the hook, only to find it was wedged between two underwater “cliffs”, requiring a scuba dive to free the chain in over 20m of water and a distance of 50+ meters.

    Not a good experience for them and a warning to future visitors as to the state of the mooring lines.

    The boat has now arrived safely in Fiji.

    1. May 9, 2022 at 5:03 PM
      profile photo
      sue-richards says:

      I would like to respond to Olivier’s email of April 28, 2022, copied below.
      1) S V ‘Oxygen’ was in breach of Cook Is Maritime Border regulations as the maritime border was closed to all vessels at the time (arrival 18 April).
      2) S V ‘Oxygen’ made no attempt to inform Cook Islands authorities and / or the Palmerston Is authorities declaring an emergency need to stop over in Palmerston.
      All other genuine vessels in distress requiring assistance, rest or repairs that have stopped over in Palmerston since the closure of our maritime borders in 2020/2021 had the courtesy to make contact beforehand and we have attempted to assist them as is possible under restrictions.
      3) The Palmerston Is police officer contacted SV Oxygen’ the next morning (19 April) informing it of the border closure, as to the vessel’s intention and that they are not to disembark and they need to depart as per the regulations.
      4) In this instance this vessel got off lightly without any prosecution being pursued.
      5) In reference to the state of mooring lines, you tie up to them at your own risk. Note we have been closed for 2 years (2020, 2021) NO MOORING LINES HAVE BEEN CHECKED OR MAINTAINED SINCE because there has been no need to. This is what happens when you just show up thinking you have full entitlement to call into Palmerston Is when the Cook Islands maritime border is closed.
      6) NOTE – Cook Is Maritime Border has been opened since May 1st 2022.
      Palmerston Island is not a Port of Call. Regrettably no approval will be granted to any vessel seeking to visit Palmerston Island in 2022. At this stage Palmerston Island Government does not have the capacity to satisfy national health, biosecurity, customs, immigration and security agencies processes. This will be reviewed again in early 2023. Once national agencies are satisfied with our capacity to undertake these processes we will give notification.
      Regards,
      Arthur Neale
      Executive Officer
      Palmerston Island Administration

  2. August 3, 2018 at 5:20 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    From Will Rowe via email:

    My wife and I have the only AIS station on Palmerston to assist approach. We also provide internet and weather update facilities free of charge to all cruisers no matter whom they are hosted by on Palmerston.

    We check the AIS traffic and our email every four to six hours.

    Vessels intending on making Palmerston their next port of call can contact us at [email protected] and expect a prompt reply with answers to any questions they may have.

    Meitaki korereka,

    Will Rowe

  3. November 7, 2016 at 4:10 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    DO visit Palmerston! We did so this year and the welcome was just wonderful.
    We contacted Bill Marsters in advance and brought much-needed supplies from Rarotonga. Our reward was to be adopted, fed, and brought into their daily life, with No Charge for the use of their (newly laid) mooring.

    Bill’s wife Metua makes delightful necklaces and wristbands and various other beautiful mementos and gifts for very reasonable prices. I bought a shell necklace for my 96y/o mother and mailed it to her – she wears it every day! I and my 3 crew had a wonderful time, and we cannot praise Bill, Metua and their lovely family, enough.

    I cannot say how the other families treat you, but I can wholeheartedly recommend getting in touch with Bill and stopping with him if you can.

    Only one caveat……the mooring is on the reef, which will be a lee shore if the wind becomes N round to W. We only left because a trough was coming, which would have – and did, I am told – make the anchorage untenable.