The Gambier Islands 23:07.0S 135:00.0W
The island of Mangareva was a perfect place to stop after our tense few days at sea prior to arriving in the Gambier archipelago. 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 sunset 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/marrow which grows 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. The supply ship comes twice a month to re-stock the shops. Still 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 to the west of the island facing the reef. We found some enormous round zucchini and met a lady who invited us into her home on the water's edge, where we enjoyed some grapefruit. Afterwards a broomstick provided a suitable weapon to harvest a few more grapefruit for us to take. 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 Taravai, 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 blue parrot fish stood out over the muted colours of the sea bed. We were also joined by a solitary turtle. That evening we were treated to a very special and unusual sunset! Perfect.
The Bay at Rikitea
Tahiva and her grapefruit