Paradise on Puaumu

Puaumu is truly a small piece of paradise.  This little motu is located on the north end of the Gambier archipelago.  It is a private island owned by two families.  One is a friend of ours, Stephan and Manu.  Nobody lives here permanently, but the owners and their families do camp out for long weekends and holidays.

Puaumu Paradise

Puaumu Paradise

For some reason, cruisers don’t tend to come this far north so we often find ourselves alone in this beautiful, serene anchorage. Matt and I are able to cozy up to shore in between the large bommies.  Monohulls have to stay out in the deeper water as they have a long draft whereas we have a shallow draft at just over 1 meter.

Exploring the Motus

Matt and walk around the entire island which is a whopping 1nm.  It is not the distance but the terrain that make this fun.  The leeward side of the island is nice beach or small coral making it super easy to walk on during low tide.  However, the windward side of the island is covered in dead coral, large rocks, and debris making it a bit of a challenge to traverse.

We try to walk the island during each of the different tides.  When it is low tide you can walk along the water’s edge and find lots of sea treasures that wash ashore.  During medium tide you are a little higher on the coral shelf and high tide forces you up on the top of the coral shelf.  Always something new to be seen and found.

There are about a half dozen smaller motus south of Puaumu and two fairly large motus to the NW of the island.  As you might recall, Gambier is one large archipelago which has motus and small islands all around its outer edge that separate the inside lagoon from the Pacific Ocean. 

The red arrow is Sugar Shack located at Puaumu.  The two larger motus are on the top of the screen and the smaller motus are the light-yellow marks below Puaumu.  They are so small that they don’t have names.  It means that in a few decades they will be gone as they are slowly sinking into the sea.

Exploring by SUP

We are able to paddle board to a few of the smaller motus on calm days.  But the two larger ones to the NW of us require a little dinghy ride as they are about 1.5nm away.

These two motus are called Tepapuri and Teauaone.  Say those three times fast.

Motu Tepapuri

Matt and I walk around the entire motu which was about 3.5 miles over several different types of terrain ranging from sand, to small pebbles and shells, to rocks and large dead coral.

Coming around the corner of the motu sat this lone tree awaiting the rise of high tide.

A Few Good Finds

Matt found a long rope and decided to bring it back with us to make a tree swing.  It was super heavy.

I found the best treasure of all!  It is a glass pearl float.  Back in the old age (not sure how long ago, but it was a very long time ago), fisherman used glass floats.  Now they are hard plastic which is far more durable.  I am trying to talk Matt into letting me keep it so I can add it to my garden when we find ourselves on land.  Check out our next blog with more on this glass float.

Looking glass

Looking glass

We decided to take Sweetie to the edge of the reef, after we circumnavigated the motu. As we got closer, Matt had to walk the dinghy in as it was too shallow to use our outboard.  We secured Sweetie and then walked to the breaking waves where they were so clear you could see the reflection of the reef below in the curl of the wave.

We were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow after a rain shower.

Puaumu’s beauty has no limits.  I love that the water inside the lagoon is so vastly different from the water outside.

Events from this blog post occurred during March 2021.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Driftwood Art

Driftwood Art: A Turtle

Cruisers have a lot of spare time on their hands. Some are super creative and make jewelry or garden while others create masterpieces out of driftwood.  A friend of mine, Carla on Ari B showed me some of her creations that she did as a “hobby” and I was blown away! 

Finding the “right” piece of driftwood that is good for carving and speaks to you is challenging.  I had two pieces of driftwood on the boat.  Both were being used to prop up sea shells (so not really used in other words).  I showed Carla and one looked like a turtle!  Game on.  She took the piece and said she would think on it to see if she could do something for me – and did she ever come through!

The Unveiling

Carla told me my piece was done about a week later.  I zipped over to her boat and was so pleased to see she had an official unveiling of her artwork.

Carla unveiling her art

Carla unveiling her art

Understanding the Polynesian Symbols

She then proceeded to walk me through the meaning behind each of her Polynesian symbols or designs.  I will only call out the larger designs as there are too many to list in a single blog.

Carla selected Polynesian symbols that reflected her opinion of me and my journey.  

Front and Side of the Turtle

  • Behind the eye, on the neck is the “Marquesan cross” (cycle of eternity from life to death to life, ancestor, soul)
  • Below the black circle is the “Tapa’s Sky” (sky of the goddess Tapa, goddess of lightening and storms, announcing the fertile rain.)
  • Belly area is the large compass “He’o’o” which symbolizes navigation, guide, orientation, stars
  • At the tail is the sea “Tai” which means to travel, migrate over the ocean
  • Above the compass are many symbols including:
    • The turtle “Honu” (passage into another world, messenger between humans and the gods)
    • Sacred Divinity “Etua po’u” (a protector of spirits) looks like a “U” with 2 candle holders)
    • Tiki Look “Mata Tiki” (watch over someone or a family)
    • Two sacred turtles “Keakea” (keep bad spirits at bay, multiple protection by powerful beings)
Driftwood Art

Driftwood Art

Back and Tail of Turtle

  • Hand “I’ima” (to give and be generous)
  • Center of the back (mostly white) is Cetacean “Pa’aoa” (image of human being united with the aquatic world, protector, rescuer, unwavering friendship)

Top of Head and Back Side

  • Across the top of its head is a turtle “Kea me te poka’a” which is to give life, protection of life
  • Across the middle of the back (looks like a pitch fork with triangle) are Women Spirits “A’a hanaua” female warriors who protect
  • Spiral “Kavi’I pu” (promise of life, someone who really wants to evolve or develop). White spiral
  • Ear “Pua’ika” (always ready to listen and understand). Located to the right of the spiral
  • Immensity of clear sky “Aki haupeka” (journey), symbols along the bottom near the tail looks (like a “Y” with a square in the center)
Driftwood Art

Driftwood Art

The final piece is nothing short of a masterpiece made from a simple piece of driftwood.  A small pearl for the eye and he is complete.

Driftwood Art

Driftwood Art

Events from this blog post occurred during mid-March.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Matt’s Taravai Birthday

Lots of love for Cinco de Mateo this year!  We started our birthday celebrations by getting a sneak peek into one of the local dance team’s performance for their upcoming Heiva.  Our friends Stephan and Manu were both singing and dancing!  It was beautiful even though they were not in costume and they were performing in a parking lot.

Afterwards, we headed to Stephan and Manu’s house for a late happy hour.  Our friend Heifara showed up as well so it was a lot of fun.

Stephan, Matt, Me, Manu

Stephan, Matt, Me, Manu

Way before sunrise I found myself baking bread for our breakfast date and cheesecake for our birthday celebration later in the day.  I was graced with a gorgeous sunrise.

We headed up the hill where we enjoyed a huge breakfast with our good friend Poerani (Popo).  She made French toast, eggs, and sausage along with the fresh bread I brought.  She is such a gem!

Then we left Rikitea for the last time this season and headed to Taravai.  For the 3rd year in a row, we celebrated Matt’s birthday with Valerie and Herve (the local family who live on Taravai).  They hosted a giant bash for all of the cruisers.  Tons of food was shared before several heated games of volleyball and petanque.  Check out Matt’s birthday last year on Taravai.

We were actually celebrating three birthdays.  Matt, Tom on Pakia tea and Doug on Hannah.

Valerie made all the birthday boys’ birthday floral crowns and each of the significant others received floral leighs!

Sonya (Tom’s wife on Pakia Tea) made cake and chocolate pudding while I made jello shots and cheesecake bites.  Valerie gave Matt a dancing snowman as a bit of a joke.  His face was priceless!

Tom and Sonya’s son, Keanu played the recorder which was so sweet (lower left).  Sonya and I (top left), Matt and Tom (bottom right) and Ariki (Valerie and Herve’s son) on top right.

In addition to a wonderful birthday celebration it was also a goodbye party.  The winds presented a good weather window to leave Gambier so several cruisers were taking advantage of it.  It was hard to say “goodbye” to our friends as we have had a truly blessed 5 months here.

Alan, Matt, Valerien, Me, Ariki, Herve

Alan, Matt, Valerien, Me, Ariki, Herve

It amazes me how wonderful our fellow cruisers and the locals are!  They made this a truly blessed birthday to remember.

Events from this blog post occurred on 5 May, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.