September 2016

Tuesday 6th

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We arrived here yesterday after almost a month at sea.  In all we did 3,215 Nm in four weeks and one day.  Having crossed the Atlantic at an average speed of six knots a crossing that averaged less than five was somewhat disappointing.  The biggest problem we had was running out of wind as we dropped below 20 South.  That was at the end of August and we had to head north again to pick up some wind. Our 24 hour run from noon on 30th was only 31 Nm.  By midday on 31st we were becalmed and motoring slowly north, mostly to charge the batteries.  However, late that afternoon the wind started to pick up first from the south west and then backing southerly.  It held and we did 87 Nm in the next 24 hours. After that things went well and we maintained a westerly track until virtually due north of the Gambiers where we turned south hoping that the wind would hold.  It did and we arrived off the coast of Mangareva in the early hours of 5th September.  By 1020 we were at anchor off Rikitea, the main settlement on Mangareva.  Here is a view of the anchorage as we were approaching…

We didn’t go ashore yesterday and were up early this morning to pump up the dinghy and go and do the formalities.  There are Gendarmes here, some natives and some on secondment from France.  The paperwork is minimal and the only charge is for a stamp on a customs form that is posted to Tahiti. As we had been told there is no ATM here but you can change money at the post office, which we did.

During the crossing we had been in contact with various boats using our HF radio.  One of them was MAYA but we haven’t heard from them for a couple of weeks or so.  They left the Galapagos after us so we don’t expect them here for a few days yet.  Hopefully they are ok!

One of the great things about French Polynesia, at least here, is that they have a bakery and you can get fresh baguettes!  They seem to be subsidised as they only cost about 50p whilst pretty much everything else is eye wateringly expensive – $10 for a cabbage!

Friday 9th

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Our friends on MAYA arrived today!  They had been via Henderson and Pitcairn Islands, hence the delay in arriving.  They came on board in the evening for sundowners and dinner.  Its really nice after a long passage to have someone else cook for you.  We traded a box of Earl Grey tea for six eggs and a can of baked beans (Heinz, of course).

It is noticeably cool here in the evenings and quite often we will wear a warm top.  We are almost out of the tropics at 23° 07’S.

Monday 19th

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

One of the recurring problems cruisers face is refilling gas bottles (for my American readers I’m talking about propane and not petrol).  Everywhere you visit seems to use different fittings from the last place you were at.  Whilst in Panama I’d imported two aluminium tanks from America.  Fine in Panama where they use the same fittings but not in French Polynesia.  Fortunately Herbert has an adapter kit. Now you might think this is a bit dodgy but it works fine.  You get a full cylinder and connect it to your empty one with a hose and suitable gas tight fittings (the adapter kit).  You put the empty one low down and preferably in the sea to keep it cool and then hang the full one upside down above it.  The liquid gas flows through the connecting hose and fills the lower tank.  Very simple but it does take quite a while, oh and a full bottle of gas.  There isn’t any on the island as the shops have run out and the next supply ship isn’t due for about a week.

Friday 30th

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We’ve been doing quite a few boat jobs since we’ve been here.  Nothing major but enough to keep on top of things and make EL look her best.  The deck wash down pump is now working again as is the autopilot.  I’ve caulked the toe rail seams and Sheryl has washed and waxed the hull and topsides. Some of this work was done over the last week whilst we have been in a secluded anchorage on the west coast of Taravai, one of the other islands in the archipelago.

And that was September.  For more on the Gambiers click here.