Moments of Bliss

Submitted by Gunter Hofmann, January 2000:

Moment of Bliss on Palmerston Island

The first time we began using the phrase moments of bliss was in Palmerston, part of the Cook Islands chain in July of 1998.  We, as  part of the crew, were dinghied to the shore of the tiny atoll, leaving captain John Neal and his first mate Amanda on board the Mahina Tiara in a difficult anchorage off the pass near the reefs.  We had survived 2 1/2 days of 35 knot winds, gusting to 43, with the main and head sail triple-reefed, steering  through black rainy squalls by compass only. You can find the story of that trip-and others-at

Gliding over the reef into the sheltered lagoon was a good omen  for entering a friendly place.  Bill Masters, 5th generation descendent of the  founder of the Palmerston community, led us to his place and put us down in his living room which was also his office and the family bedroom.  "Sit down, lie  down, make yourself comfortable," he said.  Surrounding the house was an odd assembly of sheds and huts full of mysterious machinery and bits and pieces of ships that had been wrecked on the reef.  A basic West Marine supply depot--just no catalog and of course, no clerks. And then, there it was, a hammock between a  group of coconut palms surrounded by flower beds.   I felt that I was  coming closer to my dream of what a landfall on a tropical atoll should be about.  Bill gave me pillows and I climbed into the hammock.  And then,  transcendence began.  I could feel my soul coming to rest, I could feel the friendliness and good will in the air around me and I could smell the fragrance of the flowers and sense the beauty of in the bluest sky between the crowns of the palms with a subdued murmur of the breakers on the reef in the distance.  And then it came to me, a moment of bliss, where the world outside and  inside is in complete harmony for a fleeting time.