Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 25, 2017

In the Gambier Archipelago

13.5.17 – Saturday –

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                                        Morning in Rikitea

The day was dedicated to getting to know the town. Following the information I found on the web at the research phase, we went to look for a German guy named Fritz, a former soldier in the Foreign Legion, who made Mangareva his home about forty years ago. His place is a sort of Yachties’ club, one can do laundry and take water from his shower tap.

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On the way we passed the bakery and Jo Jo place, which is a restaurant, a grocery store and a provider of free internet for those who eat there. We found out that we could get diesel fuel from them too; the price of diesel is 200 francs, two U.S dollars,  a liter. When the supply ship comes, one could fill up with them, minimum quantity is 200 liters at 120 francs. In the afternoon our next anchor neighbor, a Belgian single-hander named Rick, came over for a beer. He came here seven weeks ago so there was a lot we could learn from him about the area. Sometime in the evening Pakia Tea came in. We found out that they decided to stop at the island of Oeno, about 230 miles east of Mangareva, to wait for better winds. The day was concluded by a surprisingly good dinner at Jo Jo’s. Another nice meeting was with a couple living on a yacht named Pitufa; Birgit and Christian have a very good blog with a lot of information about French Polynesia.

14.5.17 – Sunday – At 0400 I woke up to the noise of the rain and the feeling of being wet in a place I wanted to be dry at. Closed the hatch and found a dry area where I could go on sleeping. It was raining real hard and I was hoping that the rain catchment will not collapse and get us some heavenly water. Plans for a hike to the top of Duff mountain were shelved for the time; we’ll wait for a dry day. We were debating whether to go to Fritz and do the laundry as he does not have a drying machine and we would have to hang our washing on the boat. Danny and Zulu went there and came back with a load that was wet but did not look very clean. We hanged it to dry, hoping that there would be no serious rain. What can you do when it’s raining? zulu and Danny discovered that they could receive the Jo Jo’s WiFi on the boat and were glued to the phones facing JoJo’s Mecca.

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I gave the guys an introduction to SUP paddling and after lunch all of us went for a nap; Zulu and Danny excelled in that task and appeared in the salon only after 6 p.m.

15.5,17 – Monday – An important day – the post office is open and we would be able to change money and be free to shop; the shops take credit cards only for sums over 2000 or 3000 XPF, the Polynesian Franc, so if all you want is a baguette you are under the limit. We entered the post office; a smiling clerk told us that they no longer changed money; he sent us to the nearby grocery store, where – not before getting permission from a higher authority – the girl behind the counter changed American dollars and Euros. With the money in our hands we went to the bakery slash grocery store and did some shopping. They did not have fresh baguettes, only frozen ones so we decided to pass.

After lunch we dealt with the damage to our sails. We took the jib down and Zulu sewed and strengthened the area of the tear. Danny and I reconnected the upper batten sleeve which had separated from the sail by inserting two 4mm bolts that should hold them together.

16.5.17 – Tuesday – It did not rain at night so we went out to conquer Mount Duff, which is 1447 feet high. We started on the main road leading to the northern part of the island, went over the ridge and found the sign for the trail to both peaks – Duff and Mokoto. At first the trail passed through rain forest trees and as we got higher it changed to pine.

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The climb was not easy, especially because the earth was still wet and it was difficult getting our shoes (sandals in the case of Zulu) a good grip. We were wise enough to cut some branches to serve as walking sticks which helped a lot during the climb.

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The top of Mount Duff is what I call “the blade”, very narrow trail with steep precipices on both sides.

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                            Sitting on the Blade (pic by Zulu)

The views were incredible.

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              Looking north, Mokoto peak at the center (pic by Danny)

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                        Looking east to anchorage and town

Going down was not less arduous than climbing, sometimes we had to slide on our behinds in order not to fall. In some places ropes were tied to trees to help the passing of steep sectors. Just a short distance from the end of the trail we found a grove of Pamplemousse, those excellent Polynesian grapefruit, sat down on the ground and had a citrus feast.

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Once “down to earth” we all felt quite tired, had lunch at Jo Jo’s and back to the boat to wash and rest. It was a very satisfying trek and I was already calculating how and when I would be able to bring Gili here. 

17.5.17 – Wednesday – Last preparations before departure to the Marquesas; some shopping and toping up fuel and water. The dinghy started taking water and when we lifted it up to its pace the hole was found and immediately treated with 5200 silicon adhesive. In the afternoon we relocated to the Taravai anchorage, which is closer to the northern exit from Gambier. This was not without some stress because we followed the Navionics charts and crossed some 2 meters deep areas. How did all the monohulls in the anchorage get here? I took the SUP and paddled to investigate the area I saw yesterday from the mountain. Sure enough there was a deeper and simpler way to go and later in the evening “Pitufa” came in, demonstrating the right way to go.

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Tomorrow we’ll leave for Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas, 788 miles away; the trip will probably take 6 – 7 days and hopefully this post would be published from there.

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