Drift through snorkling (Schnorcheln im Vorbeitreiben) and other strange happenings

We just came back from almost 4 days of relaxing and enjoying the beautiful reefs and its inhabitans. We left on wednesday morning after the morning practice of the girl on the boat which was next to ours (she has a line hanging down from the forestay and does the ballet on the line hanging down – nice to watch during breakfast ;-)) and sailed back to our beautiful little island. 

There, Marcus had the fastest catch of fish I have ever seen. He put the fishing rod with old cheese from Easter Island into the water and 5 seconds later he had a fish for his BBQ dinner. Amazing. Marcus was VERY happy. Next morning the sea had calmed down a bit and it was low tide. We used the chance of a bit more shell-sand on the beach to play paddle tennis, which ended up being a test how much leather-like our soles of the feet are already. The “sand” of the island are all very small pieces of shells, yet big enough you can pick up every piece, like very small stones. Running over this sand is like sanding your feet with very rough sand paper. To make it a bit more challenging, there are even a lot bigger pieces of shells and dead corals in the sand. Acupressure massage on the feet. Well, we can still walk ;-) 
Later we tried to snorkel a bit but the current was so strong that we could hardly hold ourselves at the reef, so we went back to the boat. That evening, in the sunset, we BBQ’s sausages and for the first time in my life I ate “bread fruit” (I don’t know the English expression). A big green, almost round, vegetable with white dots on the shell which grows on trees and after cooking tastes like sweet potatoes, almost like Yuca. You peel the thick skin off and then cook it in water. I prepared it like a bavarian potato salad and it worked great!!

Yesterday we changed our position to a chain of islands, all connected by sandbanks, north of the airport. I LOVED it there, we finally found my big bathing tub. A huge area of turquoise colored ocean, where I was finally able to SWIM a distance and not just snorkel or stay at one place. But, we also did snorkel quite some time yesterday and I again today. What was so funny there? The sandbank / reef parts in between the islands have a good stream from outside the atoll to inside the atoll, especially at high tide coming in. We walked towards the outside and then just laid in the water with our mask and snorkel with no movement necessary. We drifted to the inside end of this reef, floating over this beautiful underwater scenery, which looks as if someone had put oriental gardens with bonsai trees and mushrooms under water. We saw different shells, riffs, corals (I love the purple one), sea cucumbers, crabs and much more. A whole different world. It is like swimming in a huge aquarium, tons of fish around you in the most beautiful colors. In the meantime I have even lost my fear of the little sharks, since now I know they swim away if they see you. My favourite are the big rainbow colored fish (parrot fish). They come in large groups, but they are shy – in contrary to the little blue fish, which are more curious. And, there were no jellyfish (Quallen). Did I ever tell you this? On the first day after we arrived here, Alita was just cleaned and the motor back in order when Marcus had the watermaker running. All of a sudden I hear a strange noise from the watermaker, we had to turn it off. Maybe something in the filter? I joked and said, maybe a jellyfish? You know the answer. Yes, indeed. The yellyfish came so close to the boat and to the inlet of the watermaker that the watermaker had indeed sucked one in. Having seen and touched this gelatine like transparent mass in the filter I now understand why you call it “jellyfish” in English. It is like jelly, only I would not want to eat it… 

This afternoon, in some light rain, we came back to Mangareva because we wanted to eat Pizza tonight and I am going to church tomorrow morning. Oh well, here on this island people have too much money, no need to do much. Pizza place closed, so is the only other restaurant. All sailors (and there are many here right now) stood in front of closed doors. You can’t buy vegetables here, shops are hardly open, baguette only in the morning, ….people live well here. Most of them work in the black pearl industry, most men diving. They are definitely not prepared for tourism, which on the other hand is good, everything stays original and there is no crime here. For the first time, I feel really safe in a place, I even already slept outside on deck twice already because I wanted to fall asleep under this beautiful star sky. 

Tomorrow after church we have a cooking party with the other germans at the older guy’s TransOcean Club house. I will make an apple cake – the wish of the Fritz. He plays old german songs all day long, for sure he’ll play the song “Micaela”.  
So long, here are some pix of the last days. The rest can be found added in the photo gallery of the “Iles de Gambier”. 

 A shark

The girl dancing in the boat

 Isn't he just too cute???


The life in Mangareva

The days start early and end early. At 6.30 am, right after sunrise, even the best sleeper wakes up. Why? Beause in the evening you’re so tired from sun, wind and water that you hardly survive to stay awake through the dinner just after sunset. When the dishes are done, around 7.30pm, you ask yourself: what can I do now to stay awake….People on the island seem to be the same. Life starts and ends early. In the morning, as of 7am, the run to the bakery, better to say to the baker (“le boulange, c’est lui” is how I found out where I could  get fresh bread), starts. What can you get there? Baguette, only baguette – but a good one. 

After breakfast I usually go to land to discover more of the island. What did I find? Green, lots of green. Besides the redwood trees I see the biggest (mostly highest) trees of all different kinds I have ever seen. They seem to constantly grow, nothing keeps them from doing so. The island behind the town looks more like a jungle.

 There are several paths to cross from this side to the other, but I think only tourists use these once in a while. There is so much green you hardly find the paths. The islanders don’t walk. They all have mopeds or cars. But not just cars, the biggest, mostly modern Pick-ups. 

I don’t understand why they need them for an island of about 12km length with probably about 25km streets in total. A bike would be more than enough. Or a horse. But now, they all need cars. Looking for a gas station? No, not here. People all privately order 200l barrels of gas/diesel in Tahiti. A cargo ship, which comes here every two weeks, brings the barrels plus anything else the people might have ordered and some vegetables for the people to buy. They could grow everything here, but they don’t (they did grow vegetables here in the 70s, but not since). They grow only fruits and most of these get rotten if not sailors like me come by and ask for permission to pick up some of those fruits. Do they let you pay for these? No, they’re happy someone is interested. They all asked me to come back anytime to get more. Today I went “shopping” at Gaston’s again – and at the place of the lady where I have the best source of pomelo. Now I’ve got enough papaya, banana, pomelo, coco, lemons and some other fruit to survive the next couple of days. 

Today Marcus walked with me along the southern part of the island a little bit. We passed by the little graveyard, where the last king of Mangareva, who died on 20.6.1857, has his grave.

We ended up walking through a beautiful, enchanted (verwunschen) forest with an interesting mix of trees.
We’ll leave the island of Mangareva tomorrow and hang around some of the beautiful other islands here in the atoll of Iles de Gambier. On Saturday we come back here to get Pizza at night and for me to be able to go to church Sunday morning for the service. It’s supposed to be gorgeous – especially the singing. People dress up and everybody meets at church.

Then we wait for Sebastian to arrive on Tuesday. Gyuri left by plane today, but had been on land in a hotel the last week because it’s more comfortable to be at land without depending on someone to drive him to land with the Dinghy and to pick him up. We had a nice good-bye dinner yesterday.

In the following picture: Marcus' construction for re-filling gas from one bottle to the other.

Fruits for Micha:

 The boulangerie

 In the jungle


Pictures Iles de Gambier

The last two days we drove around here in teh Atoll "Iles de Gambier" and stayed at anchor at two islands, Ile Tauna and Ile Totegegie. This finally gave me some south sea feeling. I  just uploaded all the pix from here so far. See http://sailing.smichah.de/#57.0

AS always, I'll post some here in the following:

RIght now we're back in Rikitea (Mangareva) at anchore because of not so nice weather. Too much wind, no sun. We're safer here AND we have the internet....