Clipperton Journal: The Daily Record of Life on a Pacific Atoll, Part 2

Lance Milbrand
August 29, 2003

View a 'castaway' Photo Gallery by Lance Milbrand: Go>>

April 13, Sunday, Day 5: Erin left the atoll yesterday and I am all alone. At about 1:00 a.m. I was awoken by two crashes of echoing thunder. All the birds around my camp started screaming and it was followed by high winds and pounding rain. A few frightened birds flew and crashed onto the side of my tent.

It was the second challenge for me, maybe the third. The first was driving my skiff in and out through the channel, ; the second was yesterday's 100-plus-degree heat, and the third, last night's storm.

That was my first real storm. I am sure many will follow, or so I hope. I caught about a quart (about a liter) of water in buckets. I will try out my tarp during the next big storm. I am slightly concerned about the stability of my tent and I need to add guide lines inside and out. The wind that ripped through camp certainly got my attention.

Holding the tarp to catch water in high winds is also a concern. I purified the quart of water with a commercial distiller and it tasted good. I shot a roll of still film for National Geographic. The surf seemed to grow huge; probably six-to-eight-foot (1.8-to-2.4-meter) swells.

The early afternoon provided a good scare. A huge Mexican tuna seiner came up and around the atoll and then stopped at the grove, my campsite! They flew a Mexican flag. I video taped the event and I must admit it felt eerie being alone.

The tuna seiner has a right to fish the atoll; I just found it strange they showed up right after the Royal Polaris departed.

I made two skiff trips to pick up supplies. It certainly is easier to move gear in the skiff. Those skiff trips would have taken me five cart trips by land. The only drawback is getting the lagoon weeds caught in the outboard motor intake. I have to paddle my way in when I get in close to shore so the motor does not get clogged or damaged by weeds.

I called and talked to Maya for ten minutes but missed talking to Jeanne. Tonight I saw rats playing around my campsite. They are fat and furry. If they start to crawl over my things, I brought a few traps to discourage them.

Why do frigate birds soar at night? The moon is almost full and the birds were in the air hours after the sunset.

April 15, Tuesday, Day 7: After laying five traps, I only killed one big rat last night. Had a good slow start this morning because it was only 85 degrees by 9:00 a.m., but then it got hotter. I set up the Canon camera after several tries and had some audio problems, but I trouble-shot the problem and figured it out.

I used the camera on a booby close near camp and the big surf. I like the lens but it has a narrow depth of field in what I would consider normal light.

Continued on Next Page >>



NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.