Gambier Islands

Blue Hound
Phil Marks & Rosy Jensen
Sat 18 May 2019 11:13

The island of Mangareva was a perfect place to stop after our hectic few days at sea prior to arriving in the Gambier archipeligo. The lush mountainous island is surrounded by coral reefs. The anchorage was tranquil in a beautiful setting and the islanders (population a few hundred) were friendly and cheerful. The only downside was that the sun set early behind the mountains.

There is no bank on the island so we had to exchange some US currency at the post office for local currency. There was no formal queue, people waited on scattered chairs and benches but the system seemed to work probably as no-one was in a hurry. Suddenly another customer said to me  'your turn'.

There are a few small food shops with little or no fresh produce. We were advised by another cruiser to go foraging for bananas, papaya, grapefruit and wild round zucchini (size of melons) which grow like a weed on the verges. Being a French island there was of course an excellent baker and by the end of our stay we had learnt the baking hours & the system - Phil having once gone ashore at 5.30 am and come back empty handed - sold out. The supply ship comes twice a month to re-stock the shops. Still there was little sign of fresh fruit & veg but we were pleased to find onions and potatoes!

We went for a muddy slippery walk over the mountain ridge to the west of the island facing the outer reef. We found some of the enormous round zucchini, a laden guava tree and met a lady who invited us into her home on the water's edge, where we enjoyed some grapefuit with her. A broomstick provided a suitable weapon to harvest a few more grapefuit for us to take home. Both rucksacks were now full!

The repairs now mostly complete, the main one was the main staysail forestay, we headed off  to the west side of another island Taravae, still within the same big reef.  We had this beautiful bay to ourselves, and took the dinghy ashore to the tiny strip of beach edged by thick forest of various trees, from pines to coconut palms. The water was clear over the corals so the bright blue parrot fish stood out over the muted colours of the sea bed. A solitary turtle added to our enjoyment. That evening we were treated to a very special and unusual sunset! A perfect end to our visit. (photos to follow when on land)

We are now on passage to the  Iles Australes another French Polynesian archipeligo.