National Geographic : 1964 Jan
Strip of burlap shields Ernest Green at a neighbor's thatching bee (right). Biting winds assail thatchers work ing to waterproof the home of Tristan's elected chief, Willie Repetto, before rain damages the interior. Using twine and 15-inch needles, they lash down bundles of New Zealand flax. Rain-soaked roofers claim a reward: tea and sandwiches. Meals are tradi tional payment for Islanders who help a neighbor. Timber from wrecked sail ing ships is used in many cottages. The American bark Mabel Clark, whose nameboard decorates the Repetto home, ran aground in 1878. People of Tristan 64 sheltered her crew for six months.