seems that we had a lot of sunsets on the way to the Gambiers that
looked like this. The heavy clouds on the left threaten rain and
squalls. This is not comforting, Particularly when you know it's going
to be a long trip. Surprisingly, even though the sky was dark and
nasty looking our trip wasn't that bad. It was truly what they call
"robust." Meaning, it wasn't a sail on Santa Monica Bay, but we were
able to carry on normally and nothing got broken.
were at sea for the forth of July. Here's the color display we had on
You've probably figured out why there are so many sky and sea photos on
the web site - That IS the view when you're at sea. At least in this
photo the seas are relatively calm!
traveling on long passages, in addition to day-to-day safety concerns,
one of the worries is entering an unknown atoll with questionable
charts. After almost three weeks at sea captain Scott times our
arrival in the Gambiers so we would enter the south east pass in the
morning with the sun at its optimum angle (for visibility of underwater
obstructions). Throughout the passage we had studied the charts and read
the accounts of entering the Gambier Islands. WELL...our entrance could
not have been more of a non-event!!! We think (in retrospect) that we
had a mile wide entrance of about 75 feet!!! If you can't navigate that
you'd better not be out there. Anyway, We had a great entrance on a
beautiful day. One of the things you do when you're "out there" is study
the charts and cruising guides. So everyone has an idea of what's going
to happen when we arrive. That way you have four pair of eyes instead of
one or two.
is Annie's photo as they came in on the plane. The Quest is in the group
of four boats furthest left. We are the boat furthest right. You can see
that good visibility is required as you get close to the anchorage. The
corals are shallow, but the pass is well marked. The island from the
previous photo is in the upper left of this photo. It's kind of fun to
have this perspective.
does a little dance while Scott secures the dinghy. It's been 18 days
and 3,000nm since we set foot on terra firma, so we have reason to dance
around. We had a great trip with a super crew!
were immediately impressed with the neat and orderly appearance of
Mangareva. The main road is paved and has streetlights!
homes are beautifully landscaped with colorful native plants. You see a
lot of pride in this community! Throughout Polynesia we saw this same
kind of pride in community and culture. We'll show you more later.
checking in the first order of events was to find ice cream! We aim to
keep the captain happy! Notice his svelte figure! Our check-in procedure
was pretty interesting. The first question the gendarme asked was, "Do
you have a visa?" When the answer was "Yes" all was fine! You MUST get a
visa to enter French territory if you want to stay for any period of
time. As it was, we needed to stay over 90 days in French Polynesia and
that was quite a bureaucratic trick.
of the historic structures were fun to see! This isn't what you expect
in such a remote area.
The missionary priest literally killed off people trying
to build this cathedral.
spite of the terrible sacrifices the church is a fabulous structure.
the people are very proud of this fine holy space.
we went on a hike up to Mount Duff. We were happy to hitch a ride to the
view from Mount Duff was pretty spectacular!
we were up the mountain Scott watched the supply ship unload. This is a
REAL community event!
the main dock the next day. (left) The orange barrels are filled with
diesel. Without diesel nothing happens on these islands. It's needed for
transportation, lights and other electrical needs. Not too dissimilar to
the U.S.A. however, because this community is small and the U.S. is big
we don't always see the whole picture.
lady standing with us is the mayor. She is the one responsible for the
100% employment and the clean neat community. She suggested that the
Legionnaire would take us on a tour of the island. The Gambiers are not
set up for tourism. There are a total of six rooms available for
visitors on the entire island group.
next day Michael & Michelle had to leave on the airplane. This also
seems to be quite an event! You see the fork lift getting the diesel to
the boat that will take passengers to the airport across the lagoon. You
see Scott in the grey shirt and white hat, Michael in the blue-green
jacket and Michelle in the gold jacket. There's a priest in this group
also. A man we were talking to about some Bibles!
plane that picked up Michael and Michelle brought Tom & Annie! They did
recognize each other as they were the only four non Polynesians at the
airport! Annie was a little worried that they wouldn't find us in the
harbor. We were anchored very close to the dock. Scott and I are coming
ashore in the dinghy - that's how hard it was to find us!
next day we found someone to take us around the island. Since this
community has a 100% employment policy only this retired legionnaire was
free to drive us around. (left) We connected with him with the help of
the mayor and some French cruisers whom you'll see later.
scary are these guys!!! Here's Captain Scott, our guide from the French
Foreign Legion and Tom, the Quest's crew. Fortunately Tom spoke some
French. It's a real handicap in these islands not to know French.
views were spectacular! (left) can see by the color of the water
that it would be impossible to sail the Quest all around the main
home is the center of a black pearl/jewelry operation. You can see the
manicured lawns, solar panels, water collection. They also have a wind
generator, solar hot water, dish TV and other communications antennae.
We got a few of our Christmas presents here.
pearl farms look like these structures over the water.
we rode around the island, one view was more beautiful than another.
are Annie and I in the back of our "touring car." The guys sat on a
wooden bench that was tied down.
on the other side of the island, outside the "city" homes were well kept
up. Notice the solar panels, TV dish, banana trees, ornamental
legionnaire guide got us some wild pamplemouse (it's a lot like
grapefruit). He started dropping them like rain on top of Annie. It was
rather funny unless you were Annie who was dodging these large yellow
missiles. If you look closely you can see our legionnaire's feet! It's
ok for a visitor to take fruit from "wild" areas that are not obviously
someone else's property. Otherwise, You don't just start picking fruit
from someone's yard!!!
green fruit (right) is called noni. It has become a health fad in the
U.S. So, the locals are being paid very good money to propagate and
harvest these fruits. The Noni has brought quite a bit of prosperity to
these islands. (Notice all the new trucks!)
a good shot of our "touring car!"
is a time of celebration in the Gambiers. Here the local dancers are
dancing in the street!
was so much fun to see the local dancers.
ages participate in these celebrations.
kids were terrific!
The costumes were fantastic!
The dancing in the Gambiers was special in this regard: The dancing was
NOT performed to impress tourists. The dancing was the same as perhaps
cheerleaders at a local U.S. high school. The performance is part of a
general celebration or local event - NOT like dancers in a hotel
whose purpose it is to entertain strangers.
singers and musicians were great!
made it unique is that you experienced all this celebration in the
context of the local community.