Sugar Shack in Totegegie

Graveyard: Island’s Windward Side

The wind shifted and forced us to move to a more protected anchorage near Totegegie. This sweet, skinny island is where the only airport is located in Gambiers.  It is a long, slender island with the leeward side in the lagoon and the windward side facing the ocean.  Most islands with a “windward” side facing the ocean are breeding grounds for a graveyard. What do I mean by that?

The ocean carries all sorts of things that are dumped or discarded by humans.  It is no fault of the ocean, but typically that stuff will land on an island that faces the ocean.  Totegegie’s windward side is no exception.  The photo below is a snapshot from our Navionics app which shows Totegegie.  The bottom left side is the lagoon side, the red arrow is Sugar Shack, and the top right is the Pacific Ocean.

Totegegie Location

Totegegie Location

The lagoon looks unattractive because the chart shows all the coral heads (bommies), depth, and channel markers.  But in reality, this is what the lagoon looks like in front of Totegegie.

Sugar Shack in Totegegie

Sugar Shack in Totegegie

Technically, we are not supposed to partake in any water activities which include swimming, SUPing, kayaking, etc… during the quarantine period.  In fact, we are not technically supposed to move the boat within the lagoon to other anchorages either.  However, the authorities have allowed us to move the boat to accommodate the shifting winds in order to keep the boat safe. 

Breaking the Law

We have been going stir crazy staying on our boat for the past 11 days and needed to stretch our legs.  So, we were naughty!  We blew up our paddle boards and went to shore.  Since the airport is closed on this uninhabited island — maybe it is not terribly illegal. 

We tied the boards to a tree and exercised our right to move our legs.

Parking spot for the SUPs

Parking spot for the SUPs

We walked up a little inlet that becomes a small river during high tide and then dries out during low tide.

High and Low Tide

High and Low Tide

The Graveyards

We encountered several different “graveyards” on the windward side.  Using the descriptor “graveyard” is sad and gloomy, but so was the site we encountered on the windward side of the island.

The Boat Graveyard

First, the steel graveyard.  The French Military used this area as a dumping ground many years ago.  They dumped tons of steel and did not account for the eroding shore.  Now the steel is all exposed and hiding in pain sight. Lots and lots of steel parts, poles, and pieces were scattered along the coast.  So very sad.

Old steel uncovered on shore

Old steel uncovered on shore

The Fishing Trap Graveyard

The next graveyard was full of fishing beacons and traps.  The Chinese use these large fishing contraptions and beacons. The locals use rods and reels.  These bad fishermen build the large fishing traps using bamboo and string.  Attached to the float is a beacon which allows the fisherman to find the trap at a later date.  They attract fish by tying plastic bags full of food to the bamboo and they let the trap float in the ocean (see the center photo with the bags still attached).  This is equivalent to deer hunting from a blind – not a sport!

Parts to Fishing Traps

Parts to Fishing Traps

The beacons seem to detach themselves from the traps and liter the beach as well.  We found three beacons in a mile stretch of shoreline.

Old fishing beacons

Old fishing beacons

The Trash Graveyard

As you can imagine, there is lots of trash, especially plastic on the windward side of the island.  We unfortunately do not have space to store the trash on the boat, otherwise we would have collected it.  All I could do was toss it further up shore to prevent it from being swept back into the sea.

Windward side with trash

Windward side with trash

The Animal Graveyard

Lots lobster shells laying around. Hopefully, it is just their shell after they shed them and not the death of the tasty lobsters.  We came across a perfectly intact crab with his 10 legs and eyes sitting on a rock.  Then a few feet away were a gaggle of crabs feasting on a dead bird.

Dead animals

Dead animals

Our walk on the windward side led us toward the airport over lots of dead, broken coral and rocks.  We had a few small patches of sand, but for the most part it was a rocky shoreline.

Shoreline on windward side

Shoreline on windward side

The Airport Graveyard

We finally made it to the airport!  It was not that far, but it took us awhile to navigate the uneven ground.  Me posing near the wind sock at the top photo.  An eerily empty airport and Matt walking along the “road” that runs parallel to the runway.

Airport on Totegegie

Airport on Totegegie

I had always wanted to walk down a runway.  Why?  Who knows?  Just a silly thing really.  But I loved it!  Maybe because I am a law abiding citizen and this was illegal – or maybe the pending danger of a rogue plane flying in??

Runway walking

Runway walking

We enjoyed a lazy day after we got back to the boat.  A little sunbathing and a few small boat projects.  Here is our view of Totegegie during our quarantine.

This is the inlet we walked up to get to the windward side of the island.

High and Low Tide

High and Low Tide

2 thoughts on “Graveyard: Island’s Windward Side

  1. Sharon Kiser

    Glad you were able to stretch your legs. It’s a strange world. Christine – we can’t go out to see movies!!! 😢

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.