Looking glass

Glass Fishing Floats

The first country to produce the glass floats was Norway in 1840.  Christopher Faye, a Norwegian merchant from Bergen, is credited with the invention.

Originally, fisherman used the glass floats on gill nets in the great cod fisheries in Lofoten.  By the 1940’s, glass had replaced wood or cork throughout much of Europe, Russia, North America, and Japan.  Japan started using glass floats as early as 1910.

Fisherman used these glass floats to keep their fishing nets, as well as longlines or droplines afloat. Large groups of fishnets strung together, sometimes 50 miles long, were set adrift in the ocean.  These lines were supported near the surface by the glass floats or hollow glass balls to give them buoyancy.

Glass float

Glass float

To accommodate different fishing styles and nets, the Japanese experimented with many different sizes and shapes of floats.  The sizes ranged from 2 to 20 inches in diameter, but some were cylindrical or “rolling pin” shaped.

Most floats are shades of green because that is the color of glass recycled from sake bottles. However, clear, amber, aquamarine, amethyst, blue, and other colors were also produced.  The most priced and rare color is the red or cranberry hue.  These were expensive to make because gold was used to produce the color.   Other brilliant tones such as purple, emerald green, cobalt blue, yellow, and orange were primarily made in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The majority of the colored floats available for sale today are replicas.

Today, most of the remaining glass floats originated in Japan because it had a large deep-sea fishing industry which made extensive use of the floats.

Glass floats have since been placed by aluminum, plastic or Styrofoam floats.

Beach Comber Find of the Century!

One of the locals on Taravai had an old, beat up glass float in their yard as part of their “décor.”  I had admired it for well over a year.  However, the last time I visited the grounds the glass float was gone! Poof.  It was the first glass float that I had seen in person and I loved it.  Fast forward 4 or 5 months later…

Matt and I went exploring an uninhabited motu called Tepapuri.  We had never been on this most northern motu and were excited to see what we would find.  I anticipated finding some great sea shells or sea glass but had not hopes or inclination of finding a glass fishing float.

Matt was checking out a smaller motu and Eve was sticking to the sandy beach.  That left me to crawl across the large, dead coral along the windward side of the motu.  I spied a green, shiny object in front of me when I was about 1/8 of a mile into my adventure.  Hmmm, I wonder what that is.  It could not possibly be a glass float!  No, WAY!  Is it a glass float!  Holy Cow, it is a glass float!

I quickly, or as quickly as one can climb over sharp, uneven coral and rock, made my way to the float.  After picking it up, I hugged it like a treasured baby that it was!  I was so excited I wanted to scream and yet there was nobody around to share in my glory.

Walking back to the dinghy was closer than going all the way around the motu carrying this large float!  I showed off my new treasure to Eve as I bounced around the beach! 

What to do with our float?

Matt was super excited to see our new boat accessory (not).  Yes, it weighs about 10lbs and is a bit big, but it will look so marvelous in our yard – whenever we move back to land life!

Looking glass

Looking glass

Is it a giant looking glass?  A super sized paper weight?  An empty snow globe?  Who knows what it will become in the future.  I just know it belongs in my life and maybe my future garden.

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

The master piece!

Polynesian Sand Art

My beautiful and very talented friend, Valerie, created a sand art masterpiece for us.  She is a self-taught artist well-known all-over French Polynesia.  She sells and sends her art to the States, Canada, France and Tahiti.  It will be very difficult to showcase her creations as you just can’t appreciate the intricacy without seeing it in person.  But I will endeavor to try for you.

Valerie uses local, natural sand and soil for all of her work.  First, she considers her customer and creates a story for them.  This story is then conveyed using Polynesian symbols and designs.  The second step starts with outlining the story on graph paper.  The third step is artfully and carefully gluing the particles of sand and soil into place.  Yep, you read that right.  She applies hundreds of thousands of particles of sand and soil individually to create her sand art.

Breaking down the artwork by sections…

The Fairytale of My Life

The 1 represents Matt.  He is the man, solid.  He gave and continues to give force and protection to his wife, Christine.  The 2 represents, Christine.  She passed from life to death and from death to life.  Matt (3) and Christine, as the wind comes from the North (4), travel across the ocean (5).  With their love and passion (6)., they take care of each other and their home (7).  Generously (8) giving.  Christine, you are a beautiful woman (9) and Matt is your hero (20).  Like the bird, you always take flight (11) to other islands and countries.

Starting at lower right corner.

  1. Arm/Leg “Puha tahi” (bend with two matching ends) = Matt. Force, solid, protection
  2. Marquesan Cross “Peka ‘enana” (above arm, square) = Christine. Transformation, cycle of eternity, from life to death and death to life.
  3. Man “Vahana” = Matt. The husband.  Woman = Christine. The wife.  (stacked man with woman above)
  4. Cohort of the Tiu God “Pi’I ia o Tiu” (design looks like X’s with dots on top). Wind from the North.  Those that go beyond the sea
  5. Sea “Tai” (waves over arch). To Travel.
  6. Love “Hinena’o” (looks like checkerboard under the waves). Love passionately. My lovely wide.
  7. Woven material “’A ‘aka ha’a” (zig zag with lines under love). Made with Pandanus Odoratissimus leaves.  Woven together for life.  Home, family, take care of each other.
  8. Arm (armpit) “Ka’ake” (bottom center, below bird and shooting up to the left of the arm/leg #1) force of generosity, gift of love, cherishment.
  9. Woman’s belly “hope vehnine” (two images, left of Marquesan cross). Femininity, beauty.
  10. Manta Ray “Haha’ua” (center). Men’s protector animal and wisdom.
Sand Art Story

Sand Art Story

Continuing the Journey

You are always read to listen and understand others (12).  The ancestor’s spirit protects you (13) and also the good luck spirit gives you power (14).   You’ve got courage to brave (15) the ocean even when it’s raining, windy, and stormy.

  1. Bird “Manu” (bottom. Semi-circle) Taking flight, soul’s journey
  2. Ear “Pua’ika” (left of bird, looks like surfer’s “s”) always ready to listen, understanding
  3. Sacred Divinity “Etua po’o’u” (below bird and ear). A protector or ancestor’s spirit.
  4. Glinting / Gleaming look “Mata Hoata” (type of tiki. To the left of Sacred Divinity) Good luck spirit which gives power. Awaken to the world.
  5. Ornament for the calf “Poe vae” (Two stripes from Sacred Divinity to flower. Hourglass design) Represents courage and bravery.
Sand Art Story

Sand Art Story

The Guiding Star

The compass (16) is your star who guides you across the ocean.  Success (18) in all your life, trip, and love.  As the turtle (17), you always return to the sea (19).  For our continued journey to see and meet other worlds and new friends.

Compass and Turtle

Compass and Turtle

I zoomed in on a small portion of the photo with the hopes that you can see the sand particles.  There are dozens of colors of sand in this small corner alone.

This is a photo of the sand art as a work in progress…she has drawn it out and is working on adhering the sand.

Work in progress

Work in progress

And the final masterpiece of sand art….

The master piece!

The master piece!

Me and Valerie, the artist extraordinaire!

Valerie and I with my Sand Art

Valerie and I with my Sand Art

It takes Valerie between 3-4 weeks to complete one sand art creation.  She inspires me and leaves me speechless with her talent!

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

Saint Gabriel Church

Volunteer Day Saint Gabriel Church

Locals volunteer work on repairing the Saint. Gabriel church every Saturday in Taravai.   They come in by barge from the main island of Mangareva and work all day.  Since we were in Taravai for the weekend we decided to put our muscles to work.  There were 7 of us cruisers and about 110 locals!  Yep, they came in full force on the day we volunteered.

A morning prayer and breakfast were served before everyone began work.  The mayor (le mairie) is the man in the white shirt with the bright green jacket over his arm.

A group of students were among the volunteer group.  They worked on landscaping from the dock to the Saint Gabriel church (top photo).  The bottom photo shows the crop they planted a few weeks before (taro root, banana trees and sweet potatoes).  The government sat and watched the work (all day).  Impressive that they were there on a Saturday, but it would have been more impressive had they lifted a finger to help.

About 20-25 people focused on the roof.  They had 15-20 people on the roof and another group of people below cutting the wood and passing things up.  Only a few were tied in which was a bit scary to watch.  Surely, they know what they are doing.  Hopefully this roof will stay in place during storms and maramus.

Cruisers Work

The cruisers were set on up the opposite side of the work on the roof (precautionary measures to protect us).  But it was in the direct sun and it was HOT!  We were removing layers and layers of old plaster on the side of the church.  It was a messy and very physical job.

We were covered in plaster from head to toe, but it was rewarding work.  This Eve and I after a short water break.

These are a couple of great shots where you can see the progress of the work.  The lower white sections have been scrapped. The upper gray, blue, and black sections are the old layers of plaster.  The front of the Saint Gabriel Church is difficult to work on because you are on scaffolding and are working around curves, balls, and shells.

Before and After

It is always fun to look at before and after shots of your work.  This is an up-close shot of an area I worked on.  It still needs work, but it is better than it was when I started.

This little collage shows the wall before we began work (top left), us working (top right) and the wall after we were done for the day.  It is nowhere near completed.

This collage is through the faux wall (which is also being worked on) and shows the Saint Gabriel church and steeple. You can see the steeple has not been touched yet and is still gray, blue and black whereas the church wall is white.

Saint Gabriel Church

Saint Gabriel Church

Polynesians here tended to work slowly and take breaks often.  I think it is what they need to do to be able to work the entire day in the hot sun.  However, the cruisers, worked super hard for 5 hours and wore themselves out, me included.  After we enjoyed the very tasty lunch that was served to us, we headed back to the boat.  Must admit, that we all showered and had to recover for the rest of the day.

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