Category Archives: Gambiers Islands

Including: Mangareva, Temoe, Maria, Marutea, Muru Roa, Fangataufa,

Kirimiro Tunnel

KIRIMIRO: A Gentle 6.7-mile walk

It was time to move our legs, so we gathered the troops and picked a trail.  For the first hike, we decided to hike the Tunnel trail called Kirimiro which is in the center of the island and takes you across to the other side of Mangareva.  With us today: Agape: Josh, Rachel and Wilky and Halcyon: John and Becca.

Start of Kirimiro Hike

Start of Kirimiro Hike

As you can see, we had some outstanding views along the way.

View from Kirimiro Hike

View from Kirimiro Hike

Our anchorage was pretty crowded with almost 30 boats squeezing in between the reefs.  It is pretty amazing to see so many boats in this tiny anchorage.  The bottom photo is a pearl farm just off a large reef.

View from Kirimiro Hike

View from Kirimiro Hike

We found the little tunnel (or bridge) which was a bit anti-climactic.

Kirimiro Tunnel

Kirimiro Tunnel

The coolest part of this hike was searching for fresh fruit.  Pomplemouse is abundant here and can be found on the side of the road.  It is a cross between a grapefruit and an orange.  We procured several coconuts, and avocados as well.

Coconut Hunting

Coconut Hunting

Matt found a huge stalk of bananas that we will share amongst 3 boats.  The top photo has Matt carrying it over his shoulder but that grew tiresome quickly so we took turns having two people carry it at a time.  The lower left corner photo has Wilky on Josh’s shoulders with a machete attached to a long stick.  They were attempting to get one avocado.  We didn’t get it.

Banana Hunting

Banana Hunting

The boys sharing the load of our bounty.

Sharing the load

Sharing the load

Overall it was a great day.  We walked 6.7 miles, 17,117 steps and 83 floors.  A super day to be outside.

Cruising Friends in the Pacific

Cruising Friends Jack Pot

Living on a boat makes it pretty easy to meet new people.  Cruisers will swing by on their dinghy to say “welcome” or “hello.”  You meet boaters at the dinghy docks, local bars, restaurants, or where there is internet.  But most of the time, cruisers come and go which makes it difficult to make “connections” with cruisers that are actually cruising in the same direction as you.  Finding cruising friends that you connect with and that are heading in the same direction can be challenging.

ATLANTIC CRUISING FRIENDS

Matt and I were blessed to meet several cruising friend boats in the Atlantic.  We hung around with them through several countries, dives, excursions, hikes, and dinner parties.  We crossed through the Panama Canal and enjoyed Panama’s Pacific archipelagos.  But then, Matt and I turned left toward Costa Rica and many headed south toward Galapagos.  We were not too worried at the time as we only planned on visiting Costa Rica for a few weeks and then catching up with them in French Polynesia.

Although, that was not in the cards for us.  We were struck by lighting and delayed 6 months which changed our cruising schedule drastically. We decided to take the next 6 months to cruise to Galapagos, Chile, Robinson Crusoe, Easter Island, then French Polynesia.

With the new sailing plan, we did not have an opportunity to meet other cruising friends.  We met lots of other boats, but did not make the “connection.”  So, we traveled a lone, making new friends along the way, but none that were really traveling in our direction – until now!

PACIFIC CRUISING FRIENDS

Three other boats will be in French Polynesia for 6-12 months that we hope to enjoy many months of travel together.  Sailing Argo has the fabulous Diesel family (Jason, Lisa, Torsten and Simone).  Argo is a 48’ Leopard that has the most amazing interior space.  It can comfortably hold 20+ people in the cock pit and interior.  They were the only boat that could host 12 people around their table for dinner.  We hiked Mt. Duff and around Taravai with them, swapped lots of stories, fix it tips, recipes, and a few tall tales.

Sailing Argo Family

Sailing Argo Family

Voyages of Agape

Voyages of Agape with Josh, Rachel and crew Wilky. Rachel and Josh are experienced mountain climbers, divers and free divers.  Rachel is a marine biologist and Josh is a professional free diver.  Well, he never used the word “professional” but he can hold his breath over 5 minutes and dive way beyond my comprehension with nothing other than flippers.  Wilky, their crew member is from Chile (and is affectionately called “Chile boy”).  He is a professional pastry chef and is fluent in multiple languages including French.  He has the innate ability to make friends with everyone and everyone loves him. Each are truly amazing people and have incredibly enriched my life.  You can follow them on Instagram or Facebook at @voyagesofagape.  Agape’s crew photo taken on Sugar Shack at Baie Onemea with Rachel’s sister Rianna (far right).

Voyages of Agape

Voyages of Agape

Halcyon Wandering

John, Becca and crew Andrew are on Halcyon Wandering.  They are truly experienced sailors having traversed the arctic and all over the world.  They too are experienced mountain climbers and divers.  Becca is a very talented writer, yoga guru and runs a small accounting business on the side.  John is incredibly smart and witty and gave Matt a run for his money.  The two of them often played off one another and picked each other’s brains.  John is a spectacular spear fisherman and took Matt out several times to show him how to spear fish.  Super kind and generous people.  Can’t forget about Andrew their crew.  He is from Scotland and is a man on the move.  Hiking, walking, swimming, SUP’ing and working out.  He is very adventurous and kind.  You can follow Halcyon on Facebook and Instragram @halcyonwandering.

We are truly blessed to have met both Halcyon and Agape and look forward to many more adventures together.  Halycon’s crew photo taken on Sugar Shack at Baie Onemea.

Halcyon Wandering Crew

Halcyon Wandering Crew

Adventures with our Pacific Cruising Friends

Hanging out on Sugar Shack on a Sunday Funday.

Agape and Halcyon on Sugar Shack

Agape and Halcyon on Sugar Shack

The girls hanging out in Taravai during a Sunday BBQ.

Girls at Taravia

Girls at Taravia

We’ve had some great days!  We had a “Toes and Toddies” party where the girls did pedicures while consuming some tasty prosecco and wine.

Toes and Toddy Party

Toes and Toddy Party

A playday with Peggy Sue on Sugar Shack.  We managed to get all 4 girls on her back without falling in the water. However, all hell broke lose when John decided he wanted to join the girls.  Unfortunately, Peggy Sue was beheaded and will have to be retired.

Peggy Sue, Rest in Peace

Peggy Sue, Rest in Peace

We had a fabulous bonfire / cookout one night where we cooked fish we caught earlier in the day.

Bonfire Dinner Party

Bonfire Dinner Party

Cruising friends come and go as the nature of living on a boat.   But, when you have an opportunity to cruise with like-minded people for an extended period of time it really makes my heart sing.

Hand-Carved Oyster Shell

The Art of Hand Carving Oyster Shells

I met Stefan, a local teacher and designer of stunning hand-carved oyster shells. He had an amazing display of carved oyster shells at the Heritage Festival.  I was mesmerized immediately, but having just arrived was reluctant to drop any money on souvenirs. We chatted in broken French/English and I instantly liked him.  He told me where he lived so I could look at his entire collection.

My new friends decided to come with me to visit Stefan, after I shared my enthusiasm about his work.  They too were intrigued and wanted to see more.  So, we set out to find Stefan.  Behind the blue church, across a small bridge, and down the street we arrived at his house and studio.

Stefan’s Hand-Carved Oyster Shell Business

He and his wife just started a small business a few months ago.  When we arrived, they put out a black table cloth and lovingly laid out each of the 40+ unique, hand-carved oyster shells.  Some were carved on the outside, some on the inside, and a few on both sides.  He used pearls as legs to raise some of the shells as well.

You can see a larger collection of Stefan’s work on Instagram @Gambierscarving.

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It is difficult to imagine how they are able to carve such intricate designs onto these extremely fragile shells.

They are playing around with new designs as well.  Check out this lamp with the St. Michael church.

Oyster Shell Light

Oyster Shell Light

He is also carving individual pearls.  This is a new Tahitian trend that is becoming wildly popular.

Hand carved pearls

Hand carved pearls

In addition to the hand-carved oyster shells and pearls, he also had a warrior necklace and local honey for sell.  By the time we were all done, the group had purchased 15 items from him and put a large dent in his inventory.  He had invited us back the next day to see how the carving process was done.

Early the next day, 6 of us headed back to Stefan’s house.

The Process of Carving an Oyster Shell

  • Stefan purchases bags of oyster shells and discards the damaged and broken ones. The remaining shells are left in a pile in his yard, by his shop for future master pieces.
  • The shells are then scrubbed clean on both sides.
  • Then the exterior is sanded down
  • Buffed to a pretty shine (both sides)
  • Designed (pencil first, then ink)
  • Carved
  • Buffed
  • Ready to sell
Process of Carving an Oyster Shell

Process of Carving an Oyster Shell

A gift to visiting delegates

Stefan is presenting a gift to a group of politicians coming to the island.  It is an oyster shell sitting on top of another shell.  And oh how I wished to be the recipient of one of those stunning pieces.  We watched as his worker drew the design on one of the shells.  The photo below shows her drawing the design (upper left), a damaged shell that was punctured) and the final shell (bottom)

Intricate Designs

Intricate Designs

Trying my hand at carving

He let me have a go at trying to carve a shell.  It was really difficult to use the dremel on such a delicate shell.  But, I managed not to damage me or the shell.  It didn’t look really pretty, but I made it.

Trying my hand at carving

Trying my hand at carving

Stefan had a container full of “discarded” or “bad” pearls.  We did not understand how can a pearl be so bad that it is relegated to a container or vase?  They have funny shapes, colors, no luster or odd sizes.  He graciously allowed us to select 10 pearls each!

Stefan and his collection

Stefan and his collection

And as a special bonus for bringing so many people to his home to purchase his wares, he provided me with a beautiful, personalized oyster shell of my own.

Sugar Shack's Oyster Shell

Sugar Shack’s Oyster Shell

Stefan became a great friend to all of us.  He introduced us to many local resources, shared plenty of meals, enjoyed a few BBQ’s and created lots of god memories.

That’s just a smidgeon of the kindness we have received in the Gambiers.  The locals are kind, the island is beautiful, and life is good.

Here are few of Stefan’s amazing pieces of art:

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Did you miss our blog on French Polynesia Pearls?  Click here.