Peregrine and Morgane anchored in Onemea Bay
We now have two cruising yachts from the Falklands in the Gambier Islands. This is probably a first outside of the Falklands and what were the old Falkland Islands Dependencies of South Georgia, the various British sub-Antarctic Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Leiv Poncet arrived aboard his boat “Peregrine” on a solo voyage heading for Alaska. He is hanging around here for a week or so resting up and exploring what is essentially his first tropical destination too and waiting for some favourable winds to take him north across the Equator to Hawaii. Incidentally “Peregrine” and “Morgane” are both from the drawing board of the same designer “Charpentier” and both a design named “Trireme” although “Peregrine” is a Trireme 38 and “Morgane” a Trireme 35.
Early last week we moved from Rikitea on Mangareva Island to an anchorage between the South end of Taravai Island and a smaller island called Agakauitai. The two islands are connected by a coral reef effectively forming a bay sheltered from the North and East. When “Peregrine” and “Morgane” arrived there were already two boats at anchor “Polo Flat” and “Sparrow” a little Contessa 26 sailed by three English (Ros bifs) so all four boats had a Union Jack in the corner of their ensigns making a little enclave among the continental European flags of the other boats cruising here. We had last seen “Polo Flat” tied up to the Micalvi in Puerto Williams over a year ago when we passed through.
We had been snorkelling on the reefs near Rikitea and been impressed with the abundance of fish but that was nothing with what we found here on the reefs fringing the bay and then found that to be nothing compared to the reef connecting the two islands. There the coral was much healthier, the water clearer, and the fish bigger and more abundant. There were giant blue lipped clams in addition to the fish and a few sharks.
Fruit is abundant here and Matt the owner of “Polo Flat”, a Tasmanian who is house sitting here for a year or so, has been showing us some of the tricks involved in living off the land here, he claims to be no expert but he is a long way ahead of us in terms of local knowledge. We have learnt how to husk coconuts and the correct way to cut a banana tree among other things.
There are some strange concoctions such as a coconut dish with a texture something like yogurt that is made by taking a bowl of minced coconut flesh, squeezing the juice of two mashed up sand crabs onto it, covering it with a leaf and letting it ferment overnight. Something magical happens and the fibre in the coconut breaks down forming a smooth yogurt coconutty substance.
There is an old village overgrown in the jungle here. You can see the foundations of some substantial houses, something that looks like drainage ditches lined with stone and a small temple. The whole area is now overgrown with coconut palms and at first sight you would not think that anything except the palms had ever been there.
We’ll probably head back to Rikitea this week for a few days to catch up on emails and grab a few supplies before coming back down this way next weekend for a pig roast where we hope to learn about the Polynesian version of the Curanto (cooking in the ground) that we saw in Chile. I am sure that is a PhD or at least a book on the subject of the distribution of the methods of cooking in the ground across the Pacific – It’s probably already been done.