More about Palmyra Island…

My last Blog entry about Palmyra Island was on October 25th. Here’s more…

Since that time, I received some Emails from my good friend Smokey Stover. I first met Smokey in 1997 when I joined my RV singles group. Every Winter Smokey used to lead a small group to explore Baja, California, Mexico. My first trip with him was the Winter of 1998-1999. I really enjoyed that trip and little did I know it would set the stage for my 2004 trip to Central America. I made a second trip with Smokey down to Baja in the Winter of 2001-2002. Here is the last photo I have of Smokey that was taken during that trip…

Smokey moved to Baja permanently several years ago. Back to the story about Palmyra Island…

In cased you missed it and want to catch up on how I got started on this subject…here is the link to my last entry about Palmyra Island…

A mutual friend who saw my Blog wrote me and told me he thought Smokey had been to Palmyra Island. I wrote to Smokey…and sure enough he’s been there…twice! He has graciously said I can use his Emails to me in my Blog. Here they are below…


On September 20th…

I was fascinated by Palmyra Atoll. My first visit was about February 1984 on a 55″ sailboat for 8 – 10 days, Afterward I met two of the family members the owned the island. Their father bought the island in the 1920’s and it was used to grow copra (dried cocoanut meat). In 1939 Pam AM airlines wanted to develop the lagoon so it’s flying boats could go from Hawaii – Palmyra – Fiji – Australia. It was going to be a refueling point. Coral heads in the lagoon were a danger to the seaplanes so they were being removed. In 39′ 40′ the Navy wanted to protect the southern approaches to Hawaii so they wanted the island for a base. Depending on the history book you’re looking at after pearl harbor, the dredge “Sacramento” was clearing a channel into the lagoon, when a Japanese submarine surfaced and fired several shots with its deck gun. hitting the dredge and injuring the engineer. That was about December 23-24 1941. The Seabees were dispatched to the islands they were combined to form the two lagoons. I spent three days at the Seabee Museum in Port Humemie CA researching the history, as well as talking to the Fullard-Leo family. The Seebees used dump trucks, steam shovels, and bulldozers to join the islands, dredge, move sand and coral. The dump trucks received a spray oil bath every day to help retard rust, there life expectancy was six months. The buildings were all built out of wood, fire, storms, termite have all taken their toll. I did see a base map that showed what the concrete slabs used to be. I know the photo lab was a Quonset hut sitting in a group of about five Quonsets. There was no fresh water on the island, a large concrete tank (maybe 30×40 feet x 8″ tall) with a sheet metal roof hanging out over the sides bringing water in toward the tank was still supplying water when I was there. Palmyra is in the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone) and get huge rain amounts year around. I believe it was around 4* or 5* degrees North of the Equator. Google “Palmyra Atoll” and check it out. The island is now owned by “The Nature Conservatory” who are just a PIA. My second trip was in 1985 on a 48′ sailboat. Much nicer visit, and stayed for thirty days. Would love to go back for 3 – 4 weeks again. Sure I could lose twenty pounds with all the walking/exploring. Many more tales to tell – just tired of typing.

Also on September 20th…

Welcome to Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge

Photo of sea anemone Less than 5 feet in elevation and one of the most pristine coral reef atoll ecosystems in the Pacific, Kingman Reef lies 932 miles southwest of Hawai‘i. Crystal clear oceanic waters and vibrant coral reefs support a spectacular diversity of corals, algae, fishes, marine mammals, sea turtles and migratory seabirds.Although no permanent land is found here, two small 2- and 1-acre emergent coral rubble spits occur on the northeastern and southeastern sides of the reef. In addition to the 3 acres of emergent reef, Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge includes 483,754 acres of submerged reefs and associated waters, out to its 12 nautical mile boundary.
Sea anemone Heteractis crispa – Photo credit James Maragos/USFWS

The first recorded western contact at Kingman Reef was by an American seaman, Captain Fanning, in 1798. The reef was named after Captain Kingman, who visited in 1853. The United States annexed the reef in 1922 and in 1934 delegated jurisdiction to the Navy. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station and anchorage for Pan American Flying Clippers on Hawai‘i to American Samoa flights and for U.S. warships during the 1930s before a channel and dock were constructed at Palmyra.

On September 1, 2000, the Department of the Interior accepted restoration of its administrative jurisdiction over Kingman Reef from the Department of the Navy; Secretary’s Order 3223 signed January 18, 2001, established Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge.

On January 6, 2009, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was established, which includes Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge within its boundaries. For more information, please visit the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument website.

And again on September 2oth…

Did some surfing and I think I like this site the best.
Be sure to read Adell letter to the C.O.
Brings back good memories. My EX has all of my pictures! Had one of Grandad Cocoanut Crab I caught with close to a four-foot arm span. Ate lot’s of fish, land crab, heart of palm salad. Good times – good memories.
All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
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