October 2016

 

Saturday 1st

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We have spent the last week in splendid isolation on the west coast of Taravai.  Back in the metropolis of Rikitea we were hoping to get a bottle of gas today as the supply ship was here yesterday.  I virtually had to beg the shopkeeper to sell me one as they had already almost run out.  The Gambiers are at the end of the supply chain from Tahiti and the ship sells gas to the other islands as it travels.  The Gambiers get what’s left and this month there isn’t enough.  Not a great way to run a country but the locals don’t seem to mind.

Sunday 9th

Rikitea, Gambier Archipelago, French Polynesia

Here are some of the better photos we have taken whilst staying in these lovely islands.  Click on or touch the picture to start a slideshow…

One of the photos refers to an amazing coincidence, its something of a long story.  Back in March this year we met a couple of young Englishmen in Shelter Bay on a 27′ Contessa, Jesse and (I think) John. They had sailed the boat from the UK via the Gambia River in West Africa and Cape Verde to the Caribbean.  When we met them they were about to go through the Panama Canal and then to Easter Island, because they couldn’t afford the Galapagos.  After that the plan was Pitcairn Island and then French Polynesia.  Now Pitcairn is only about 300 Nm east of here so I shouldn’t have been surprised to meet Jesse one afternoon in Rikitea.  Amazing coincidence?  Hardly, read on.  Accompanying Jesse that afternoon were some other young English people.  Two of them, Alex and Sarah were on a boat called BOB which we’d seen in the anchorage.  As we chatted we asked where they were from.  Sarah is from the north of England, so am I, that’s not the coincidence.  Alex is from Bermuda.  We said “we know someone who lives in Bermuda”.  As this friend of ours also works in the marine industry and it’s a relatively small island we though there was a fighting chance that Alex would know him.  “What’s his name?” said Alex.  “Alan Brooks” we said.  At that point Alex looked at us like we had grown a spare head each.  “That’s my father!”.  That’s an amazing coincidence!  His father, Allan and I had served together on the same Royal Naval Air Squadron in the early 1980s.  Small world, yes indeed (unless you are sailing around it, of course).

Another photo refers to the French Catholic Priest Pere Laval who was responsible for building the churches and many other structures that are to be found on these islands.  The cathedral on Mangareva is one of the largest churches in the South Pacific, easily capable of holding the entire population of the islands both in the 1800s and now.  Laval was a controversial figure with some accounts of his time in the island accusing him of tyranny and holding him responsible for the deaths of many of the local population by forcing them to build unnecessary churches and other buildings.  Others have a different view and credit him with much good.

Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Rikitea

Saturday 15th

RIKITEA, GAMBIER ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We have been here for about five weeks now and it’s once again time to be moving on.  I’ve been talking to our friends Jeff and Katie on HF and via email and we are hoping to meet up with them in the Tuomotu Archipelago in a couple of weeks.  Today was spent provisioning for what should be five days at sea as we head for Hao.  Tonight we are having farewell drinks on MAYA, probably not the best preparation for sea.

Tuesday 25th

MAKEMO, TUOMOTU ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We got here yesterday evening having made a night entrance.  Wait a minute, I hear you say, weren’t you heading for Hao?  We were but as the trip went on we heard on the HF that MEZZALUNA had got to Makemo and the weather seemed ok to continue so thats what we did.  A night entrance?  Are you mad? Normally we wouldn’t attempt such a thing but Jeff came out of the pass in the late afternoon with his iPad running and plotting the track in.  Having left it with us we were able to safely navigate the pass into the lagoon once the tide had gone slack.

Sunday 30th

MAKEMO, TUOMOTU ARCHAPELAGO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We loved Makemo!  At the most there were only five other cruising boats here including the German yacht, PUFFIN who Jeff and I helped with some wiring for a new solar charge controller.  This was done in the immediate aftermath of a small electrical fire which had to be extinguished with a dry powder appliance.

Jeff and Katie introduced us to drift snorkelling in the pass.  You position your dinghy uptide of the pass entrance, get in the water and drift with the current holding onto the dinghy as you go through the pass. These passes quite often have large numbers of reef sharks feeding on the huge numbers of fish that either live in the pass or transit through it.  We saw quite a few in Makemo and after a while you get quite used to being only a couple of dozen feet away from these top predators.

Compared with the Gambiers Makemo is fairly well off for shops and it also has an ATM so we were able to get money for the first time since the Galapagos.  Can’t say not being able to get money has done our bank balance any harm!

Yesterday we went to a quayside Halloween party that one of the other boats had organised.  Here we are looking suitably ghoulish, well at least one of us is…

Tomorrow we are off to Fakarava, another of the motus in the Tuomotu Archapalago.  Its a “short” hop of 110 Nm and we’ll be starting at 0500 to catch the right tidal conditions to navigate the pass.

The saga continues in November.