Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Totegegie, One of the Gambier’s Barrier Islands

Mark and I left our “home base” of Rikitea in the Gambier Islands again for a ten day stint. A lot has happened since then and I will have to spread the stories and the pictures out over a few blogs…

After a last evening on shore in the buzzing metropolis of Rikitea (population 1400 or so), having a BYO cocktail on the beach to watch … moonrise (the sun had disappeared behind the mountain at 4pm), heading back to Irie to grab warmer clothes and having our first FP (French Polynesian) dinner out at a pizzeria, we left for the island of Totegegie, also called “Airport Island”. Guess why? J Before lifting anchor the following morning, however, we had to deal with a couple of local dogs, who kept swimming out to our boat. Were we too friendly to them and did they get a tad attached? And, the eleven baguettes we had ordered (and paid) between SV Pitufa and us were reduced to two, the last ones left at the bakery, when we picked them up… It was time to make and bake our own bread again!

The motor trip to Totegegie was a straightforward one, through a “channel”, only needing to avoid a few coral heads at the end. The anchoring basin was very deep and covered on the bottom with chunks of coral we couldn’t see. Setting the anchor took another 1.5 hours and five tries. For all we know, we might have been hooked to a big rock again and not in sand at the end. Luckily, the wind was pretty steady and from the same direction. In case we would leave the next day, we set out exploring by dinghy immediately, once we were settled and fed.

I just can’t get enough of taking pictures of all the hues of blue and the surrounding islands and reefs. This area is so pretty, and I realize it every sunny day. Mark and I gazed at the coral and the fish from the dinghy, walked one of the beaches and collected coconuts for their water. It mixes well with rum. Once away from the main island of Mangareva, pamplemousse (grapefruit) is harder to obtain and drinking straight rum is not our thing…

We decided to stay a few days and combined chores and food making with some fun. We walked the “road” to the airport, checked out the windward, ocean side of the island, forming the outer reef. It was not very impressive. All we saw was one foot waves crashing over the dead coral. This east side of the archipelago must be the calm side of the Pacific! One day at noon, on the nicest and hottest day since we have been here, we both braved the cold seawater again to go for a snorkel with Birgit and Christian. It was Mark’s first real swim in the Gambier islands. The coral was not very spectacular, but the fish were colorful, big and picturesque. It is always worth diving in with the shorty (wetsuit), but we never last longer than 25 minutes or so.

When the wind was predicted (and actually started) to shift, we decided to move on to Aukena, one of the other islands in the group. That trip didn’t prove to be as easy or quick as expected, even though the shortest distance between starting point and destination was only a couple of miles…

One of the two stray dogs that swam out to us. Now we have to lower the dinghy again and bring him back...

Coconut trees and pine trees along the beach. Time to harvest some nuts!

The windward side of Totegegie and the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean! On a calm day...

The airport and the airstrip of the Gambier islands (behind the path)

Green papaya salad

Scrumptious coffee cake

Full moon over Totegegie

"Snorkeling" while being in the dinghy! 

On the hottest and calmest day, the water looked like a swimming pool

Some kind of angel fish (these pictures are taken under the water... :-))

Some kind of butterfly fish

Akamaru and Aukena, two of the islands in the Gambier lagoon. I can't get enough of taking pictures of the views while the sky is blue.


Mike Boyd said...

It's "Airport Road" island style. :-) Glad you guys are getting some good weather and can do some snorkeling, even if it is with a wetsuit. The water sure looks beautiful.

I'll need to tell my wife about the canine greeting committee...we have a tendency to befriend wayward pets.

Liesbet said...

The dog situation is a tough one... We miss having (our) dogs and can't help but pet the strays and give them some needed and appreciated, but lacking love while on shore. In many cases these dogs then want to stay with us. They follow us during walks and inevitably, we will have to chase them off, before heading back to our boat. Heart breaking! Most of the time, I am the "good cop" and Mark has to be the "bad cop" when we move on. It's probably best to ignore them, unfortunately, but a lot of times we (I) can't resist petting them. One day we will be able to rescue one or two! :-) In the Gambier most dogs seem to have an owner.