French Polynesia – 3 (2014)
French Polynesia 3
Mangareva, Gambier Islands – 2
It took us 1½ day to sail from Pitcairn to Mangareva with a total distance of 312 Nm and 4 hours of motoring. The sea state was moderate, and the wind came from the north with 15 – 22 kts. I decided to slow down in the dark morning hours, and let Claymore II, which left Pitcairn a couple of hours later than us, take the lead through the pass in the reef surrounding the Mangareva atoll. It is obvious that conditions must have been very good for the black pearl market and the population whose main occupation is in this business. The main village, Rikitea, has grown and houses and roads are much improved and better maintained than before. The very large cathedral which was almost a ruin and closed for visitors at my first visit, has been completely restored and is in normal use. The village is now visited several times a week by the many supply ships operating between the French Polynesian islands, and the variety in the shops has improved. Unfortunately I did not meet Fritz, “Stützpunkt Rikitea”, supporting a German sailing association, and who was very helpful the first time we were here, because he was in hospital in Papeete; however we meet his daughter and granddaughter and talked with him on the phone. I hope he is back in full force again.
Tuamotu Atolls – 2
The atoll of Hao is placed 490 Nm to the west of Mangareva, and is a former supply harbour supporting the French nuclear operations at the Moruroa atoll. The village and harbour is only a shadow of itself compared to former activity. The other atolls visited were Faaite, Fakarava, and Toau. In general the beauty of the islands and the snorkelling inside the atolls is fantastic as before. All the villages seem to benefit from the good black pearl market conditions, and many improvements and much maintenance work have been made on houses and roads.
Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora – Bora, Maupihaa, and Futuna – 3
It is always a good experience to return to these islands. The combination of the beautiful islands, friendly people and the French touch added with good food, makes it a pleasant experience each time. Also the navigational charts and markings can be relied on and makes it safe to sail these waters. I will let the photos speak for themselves. There seemed to be fewer tourists than at my first visit in 2008, which I guess may have to do with the world economical downturn. First time visits were made to Maupihaa and Futuna. Maupihaa is a sparse populated unspoiled typical atoll. Futuna is located far west from the other islands and is part of the French Wallis – Futuna island group. I visited Wallis in 2009 and wanted to pay Futuna a visit this time. Before entering Futuna the voyage first went by Suwarrow and Samoa. Futuna is an island without a coral reef and houses an interesting little community. We were two boats visiting, and the king’s son invited us to participate in a beach party on the neighbouring island Alofi where we spent an unforgettable half day among the locals and experienced eating many local dishes.