Rainbow island

The approach to the harbour of Rikitea on the main island of the Gambier archipelago was a bit more exciting than we’d have hoped for being exhausted after 24 days at sea. The wind gusted up to 30 knots when we approached the pass through the outer reef (the archipelago is surrounded by a huge diamond-shaped reef, 20 miles diameter). We had to motor right against the wind and Pitufa got soaked in salt water again. The main harbour of Rikitea is protected by another set of reefs. The French charts are excellent and green and red buoys mark the channel: a system that looks wonderfully simple on the chart, but like a chaotic maze when you get there. Christian was sitting downstairs with the Laptop shouting up commands and I took Pitufa in short legs (right, quickly left, right, right!!!…) through the maze into the calm, protected harbour. It’s a wide area with about 15 boats anchored: a typical cruisers bay with a strong sense of community. We hadn’t quite finished dropping th e anchor when the first dinghies approached welcoming us to the Gambier. New faces, faces to voices that we only knew from the SSB-radio net and old acquaintances. It seems on each boat something broke on the long passage(except on Pitufa :-) ), so people are busy stitching sails, working on transmissions and helping out each other. We haven’t seen much of Rikitea itself yet, but we like what we’ve encountered so far: a prosperous community (about 1000 people, most live off black pearls), neat and tidy houses, lush gardens, fat dogs and friendly people (the only problem is to keep up with all the smiles and ‘bon jour!’s you have to reply to). The only downside of the prosperity is that people have stopped growing vegetables (too much effort?) and now everybody relies on the occasional supply boat… The climate is very pleasant with warm sunshine, relatively cool air (no wonder, we’re at 23 degrees south now and further away from the equator than ever during the last 1.5 years…) and regular, short rainshowers–most days we see several rainbows over the bay. Our French is still basic, but was enough to deal with the clearance at the gendarmerie, explaining the cat, etc. Leeloo had developed a ‘pimple’ on her cheek during the passage that refused to heal so we were eager to find a veterinarian and quite disappointed when told that there is none. We decided to ask around the anchorage and voila: the third boat we asked had a vet on board! He came over and declared the pimple a harmless cyst–we were quite relieved. Up till now we’ve been busy getting the boat back into shape, catching up with sleep and visiting other cruisers, but tomorrow we’ll start exploring. Many cruisers can stay only 3 months in French Polynesia, but as members of the EU we’re in a lucky position and can stay 18 months :-)


  1. hermine hackl says:

    Nach der anstrengenden überfahrt wünsche ich euch eine recht
    s c h ö n e zeit ! ! !

  2. Ingo says:

    So you planning in your mind already with 18 months then rather the roughly 6 months you mention in the next posting? ;) Have a nice recreation time getting settled in your dream destination, cheers and greetings from the ICSE in San Francisco (although heading home today), Ingo

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