Day 612: Falling for Mangareva

The crew of Egret have been seduced by Mangareva's charms but Frank wishes his sweetie was here to share it all

S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikieta Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian).

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here

The crew of Egret have been seduced by Mangareva’s charms but Frank wishes his sweetie was here to share it all

Saturday 24 May
Well, mis amigos, we took a big hike today to the top of the western mountain on the southern end of Mangareva. The eastern mountain is a more difficult hike in terms of steepness but easier in undergrowth.

Both Mary and I lost our sunglasses in the undergrowth but we recovered hers on the return trip.

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We were joined by an Alaskan couple who had just spent 48 days at sea, although the wife nipped off early as she was still a bit wobbly from being at sea for that long. The trail was completely overgrown; our only saviour was that we occasionally ran across a tree with a red spray paint trail marker. When in doubt we just headed up. We slipped a bit, got stuck by bushes that had spikes on the branches, bled a bit and trampled through yesterday’s mud. But we put in the kilometres and eventually we came to a clearing leading to the top. When we reached the ridge that led to the top we could see the entire island with the surrounding atoll and inshore reefs. Needless to say the view was spectacular. Mary was the first to reach the top and the last bit was a bit touch and go with steep drops on both sides – the ocean side was sheer.

Once at the top we sat in the cool breeze and tried to take in everything that we could see. We have never seen anything that comes close to the atoll, the particular type of reef systems or the surrounding smaller islands. Years ago when Mary and I took our first trip out of Florida (around 1969-70) I told her “Stick with me, baby, and I’ll show you the world”. I have repeated these words a number of times over the years and more often in recent years. This was one of those special times.

Poor Frank made the top of the ridge but not the summit. He had repaired his damaged sandal a couple of days ago using a rigging needle and sail twine but on today’s hike his sandal blew out big time ripping out two straps. So he limped down the mountain with a cute black plastic bag tied around the sandal and his foot.

Picture 1 shows Mary on her way to the summit, while picture 2 shows the view of Mangareva looking north. Pearl farm shacks dot the shallow water and the anchorage off Rikitea village is middle right. The second mountain is to the right out of the picture.

Our 48 days friends have pals in a smaller sailboat that left the Galapagos the same day as them and are still 800nm away from Mangareva. Our friends tell us they are getting a bit discouraged and we can imagine. We heard through Ken the Singlehander that oil hit $135 a barrel the other day. Certainly little white fibreglass ships likeEgretmake even more sense now if you want to travel by boat on reasonable amounts of fuel.

Sunday 25 May am
This morning the three of us killed two pots of coffee sitting in the flybridge listening to church music floating over the water. It was beautiful and even better without having to compete with Saturday night partygoers singing on the Government dock like last Sunday.

As we mentioned before, nothing happens in Rikitea on Sunday. For us it will be a boat day, changing the generator oil, watermaker filter, adjusting the generator valves after it cools and general putzing.

Perhaps we’ll even give jewellery making a go using mother of pearl shells, we picked up a big batch from Fritz, our shoreside German buddy. Later this morning we’ll invite the other boats in the anchorage for a late afternoon get together aboardEgret. We’ll prepare the flybridge and boat deck with inflatable fenders for places where everyone can sit. Mary is going to make a double batch of cinnamon rolls and I’m sure others will bring things as well. Not a bad way to enjoy Memorial Day weekend. Yes, we have our American flag proudly flying below the French courtesy flag. I am a veteran and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices that others made in the past and are still making today.

So boat chores we did. Frank repaired his sandals with sail twine…again. Later he even tried his hand at grinding the backside of an oyster shell for making jewellery. He is still working on it.

The day ended with 10 other yachties aboardEgretfor Mary’s rolls and other things. One French boat brought two jugs of local squeeze and a recipe we’ll pass along. The locals make simple hooch: take the juice from one large pappmouse (giant grapefruit – use two local), add 800 grams of sugar (I would add less) and 4 litres of water. In two days you’ll have a slightly alcoholic drink that isn’t bad cold. We’ve been told you can use any fruit for fermentation – bananas, papaya or mangos. So we had hooch, wine and cinnamon rolls, quite a combination. I stuck with tea, as it’s easier. It was a great multi-cultural evening as most yachtie get togethers are, with people from Germany Scotland, France and various places in the US.

We traded tales and learned about local fishing. One of our French friends, Eliot, has been here two months and has befriended a local fisherman. They fish together quite a lot, above and below water. The local fisherman furnishes the single high-end resort in Rikitea with fish. The Eliot crew are intrepid explorers who spend a lot of time travelling in unusual places, including spending a year travelling over 600nm up a river to Paraguay (the river starts between Argentina and Uruguay). Eliot is a big fly fisherman so I enjoyed hearing his stories. The group spent five years in Patagonia, including a trip to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. South Georgia Island is the place I would rather go than any other place in the world.

Monday 26 May
Today is Memorial Day. The morning sun has lit up the village and boats in the anchorage; Mary is making breakfast, with a Righteous Brothers CD providing the soundtrack. The clothes are finished in the dryer, the second pot of coffee is almost ready and Frank is in the flybridge pinching himself to see if this is real or a dream. He would give anything to have his sweetie here to share this. She needs to be here, his tears are rotting my shoes.

Much later. We took another big hike today. The three of us crossed the spine of the island on the next crossover north of the one we took the other day. On the west side Frank went back to buy eggs from the chicken farm and Mary and I walked the entire length of the west side of the island then over the top at the north end and back along the east side coastal road. We have said it a number of times before but this place is really special.

One interesting sight was a palm tree growing 15ft off the ground in the fork of a huge canopy tree (what we call the tree). Growing next to the tree is a 75ft high coconut tree that curves over the big tree exactly above the fork. It doesn’t take Sherlock to figure that one out. Cool.

Along one west side sandy beach I stopped to look at the shallow water. It looked exactly like a bonefish flat in the Florida Keys. I swear I saw a bonefish in the distance feeding. Same shape, same movements. I climbed a high rock to get a better view but I lost the fish in the glare. At the same time a small stingray swam by, again just like in the Keys. I got a strong sense of nostalgia. After returning to the boat and having some lunch we all went to work on nap chores. We stopped by Ken the Singlehander’s boat inviting him to join us tomorrow (Tuesday) on a trip across the lagoon by dinghy to another island for a bit of exploring. He said there is a front moving through so we’ll see. We are so protected here in the lagoon that we don’t bother checking on weather but it could be an issue crossing the 4-5 miles in a dink during a puff.

Tuesday 27 May am
Early. The weather looks great so we’ll leave shortly on our grand dinghy exploring adventure. Ciao.



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