Sunday, April 11, 2010

French Polynesia at last

23 01.3S 134 55.2W Motu Puaumu, Gambiers (enough vowels for ya..would be great for scrabble me thinks)

Hello all...Been here in the lovely, luscious Gambiers a week now. Don't know how the days just tick off as it doesn't seem like we have done that much. More boat projects(of course), some exploring, a whole lot of laundry (which is quite challenging to hang out when the wind is clocking 15-20 knots), and some fun as well. Within 2 days of when we arrived here there were a total of 15 boats in the harbor. Many French sailors and some nice new people to meet. They are very helpful as many of them(more particularly the men) speak enough English to help us out with some of the translation we need. We are having a hard time not speaking in Spanish and so we are introducing a new language we call SpaFraGlish. We were in Spanish speaking countries from Cartegena in May all the way until Pitcairn end of March so had actually gotten not fluent but perhaps you could say proficient. Bill is the only one of the three of us with any French background so we are doing lots of pantomine and alot goes over our heads for sure. Gram and I had the lucky experience on Tuesday to get to visit one of the Pearl farms while Bill went to the airport on a nearby island to pick up the Gooseneck part we had coming in. We had been asked to go with three of the French boat crews so had interpreters there to make it a much more interesting experience. The cultivation of these black pearls is quite a process and involves alot of steps and alot of people to make it all work. This area produces over a million pearls a year. They have established a consortium which sells about 700 thousand of these. They are the most coveted of the black pearls...more so than the ones from Tahiti. Apparently they mostly are exported to Japan but I still hope to be able to find a few to buy before we leave here.

The little town of Rikitea is very clean and pretty. It has 4-5 small stores selling food which is ridiculously expensive(eggs are .85 ea, Orangina 7.00/bottle,and meat is virtually out of the question). One of the supply ships has come in so we were able to get some canned vegies but there is a real lack of fresh ones in these parts...killing us. The biggest surprise is the bakery which makes fresh daily the most amazing baguettes imaginable. The flour is subsidized by the French government so they are the bargain of the day going for .70 for a really long, really delicious loaf. We are waiting for the croissants to appear but so far they have not been available...soon!!! Bill and I have gone on a few nice runs(there is a road which goes around the island) and we plan on bringing the bikes out one of these days to all be able to circumnavigate Mangareva. We spent 2 days working on getting the gooseneck on and are happy with the now we are a sailboat again complete with working mainsail. Still need to tackle the Reacher repair but that may need to be done by professionals in Tahiti.

On Friday we decided to come across the lagoon to the very end of the reef that surrounds this archipelago of atolls It is drop dead gorgeous and uninhabited as well as uncharted here. Beautiful turquoise water with lots of coral heads to be avoided but good enough visibility to make it seem comfortable. We are anchored in front of a palm tree lined island with white sandy beach. Did a little beachcombing yesterday and last nite tried the French Polynesian version of lobstering which was to go out at dark with flashlights and wade out to where the breakers are washing over the coral, looking for the lobsters to be walking on the bottom in search of food. We managed to catch(with your hands as they don't have claws) 3 and a huge crab so tonite it looks like we will have lobster risotto...MMMM!!
We did a little snorkeling and have found lots of new species and colors of fish now that we are in such different waters. The coral is absolutely breathtaking and the clarity of the water lots more snorkeling will be a must! Plan for tonite is a potluck dinner on the beach with a few of the other boats that have come over to this side with us. Wind scheduled to pick up and change direction by Tues so we will head back to Rikitea on Mon. afternoon. Gram did get a chance to download(or upload?) some of our pics so check out the Visions Web album on the vofj.blogspot site.(upper right corner of home page). More to come once we are back in town with intenet again. Hear that Maine is getting green and that winter is way over with a nice, early spring this year. NICE...Keep in touch. I continue to covet news of any sort from all of you so far away. Lots of love Jo

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