Tag Archives: gambier

Migration to Tahiti

The migration from the Gambier Archipelago to the Society Archipelago is about 900 nm if we were to go direct.  However, we decided to head north toward the Tuamotus Archipelago then west toward the Societies which ads several hundred miles and days to our journey.

The first leg of this migration is from Taravai, Gambier to Tahanea, Tuamotus.  This passage is roughly 664nm direct and should take us 5-6 days.  The predicted forecast is for light winds, little rain, long, rolly seas.  We put up our largest spinnaker (200 square meters), since we were anticipating light winds.  We call her “Big Bertha” and she is super colorful   Usually, we take down our spinnakers at night and just run the “working sails” (main and jib) as a “just in case”.  But the winds were super light at 6-8kts and predicted to stay that way all night.

Night 2 – dun dun dun

Matt wakes me up around 2:00am announcing a pending storm.  We need to douse the spinnaker and raise the working sails.  I grab a rain jacket and make a quick trip to the bathroom.  I should have skipped the 2-minute bathroom break.  By the time I got to the deck, the wind gusted to 26 and blew out our sail.  Insert all sorts of explicates here!  We rush to the bow to pull the sail out of the water. 

Yes, Matt could have doused the sail by himself and I could have peed my pants.  Both options would have saved the sail.  Hindsight is 20/20.  But the good news is that none of the sail pieces got caught on the dagger boards, rudder, or prop!  We will try to repair her in Tahiti.  She is 22 years old. Farfugnuggin!  The lower left photo shows you where the sail ripped.

The top two photos show you the huge wind shift and gust of wind.  The bottom right photo is the parasail that we put up afterwards.

On our 5th night, we had a guest on board.  A silly, dirty boobie.  It is so hard to be mad at these birds as it is clear they are tired and just need a place to rest before continuing on their own personal migration.  But man, oh man do they leave a nasty mess!

Part I of the Migration: Gambier-Tahanea

  • Total Miles to Destination:  664nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:  710nm
  • Top Speed: 11.0kt
  • Average Speed:  6.1kt

Notes:  Super beautiful sail with the light wind coming ENE and the seas coming from ENE to E.  The seas were large at 2m, but they were long and lazy and came with long intervals in between.  We ended up sailing 46nm out of our way to maintain the wind speed.

Don’t miss our blog post “Ta Ta Tahanea” where we explore this stunning atoll for the last time.  Coming up next week.

Tahanea to Fakarava

This is the shortest part of our migration.  The tricky part is trying to time the outbound passage through the Tahanea pass with the inbound passage through Fakarava.  Unfortunately, it just does not work out.  So, we decided to leave Tahanea at the midnight outbound slack time with the hopes of arriving at the Fakarava inbound around 9a-10a in the morning. 

Typically, we don’t like to transit the passes at night because you cannot see what the water is doing.  Is it truly inbound or outbound current?  Are there standing waves?  What are the eddies doing?  Too many unknowns.  But we have tracks from a previous transit and a wee bit of the moon light and forged our way out with no issues.

The winds were light at 10-12kts from the East on a perfect beam reach.  We started with full working sails (main and jib) and were making a respectable 5-5.5 kts of boat speed.  At dawn, we lost the wind, dropped all sails and motored.  We hoisted our spinnaker but that only gave us 3kts of boat speed, so we took her down and reverted back to the motor and the jib.  This would ensure we arrive during incoming tide in Fakarava.

Super peaceful and beautiful passage to Fakarava.

Part II of Migration

  • Total Miles to Destination:  48nm
  • Total Miles Sailed: 55 nm
  • Top Speed: 11.0kt
  • Average Speed:  6.1kt
  • Total time at underway: 11 hours

Fakarava to Tahiti

We had light winds predicted for this trip.  We left the North pass at 3:00pm and had 238nm to Papeete.  An expected 2-2.5 days.  Since we did not want to arrive at night we decided to just go with our working sails.  We set them up wing on wing which means the main on one side and the jib on the other. 

We could have flown our spinnaker or parasail but then we would arrive at night – and what’s the point in that.  So, we enjoyed a nice, slow, leisurely paced sail.

Sugar Shack under sail using the spinnaker (this is our medium sized 150 square meters spinnaker as the large one (200m) was ripped on the way from Gambier to Tahanea.

  • Total Miles to Destination:  238nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:  246nm
  • Top Speed: 9.3kt
  • Average Speed:  5.5kt
  • Total time at underway:  1 day and 20 hours

I ended up writing separate blog posts for Tahanea and Fakarava so be sure to read the next few weeks to catch up on our adventures on these two atolls.

A celebration and sad farewell to the Gambier Archipelago. (see passage post).   The migration began 25 Feb. in Gambier and ended on 26 March in Tahiti.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Goodbye Gambier (na na)

After four seasons in Gambier, we are finally saying “farewell” to the beautiful Gambier archipelago.  We have been unbelievably blessed with all the friends we’ve made here.  So, it was a bit difficult to say farewell.  By the way, “na na” is “goodbye” in Mangarevan (the local language in Gambier).

Our first arrival into Gambier was in April 2019 and we stayed for 6 weeks.  Then we returned in January 2020 and stayed for 4 months.  The third visit had us arriving December 2020 where we stayed for 5 months and our last visit was December 2021 where we stayed for 2.5 months.  So, over the course of our 3 year stay in French Polynesia, over a year of it was in Gambier.  That is how much we liked this archipelago!

We save all of our tracks as we move around.  The image below made me laugh because we had so many yellow tracks all over Gambier!  The green dots are noted anchorages, the yellow triangles are warnings of obstructions, the orange dots are points of interest.  Clearly, we’ve been in and around most of the islands in the Gambier Archipelago.

Tracks around the Gambier Archipelago

Tracks around the Gambier Archipelago

Saying “Na Na / Farewell” is super hard…

Over the course of a few weekends, many drinks, and multiple occasions, we capture our farewells to everyone.    The first person I met here was Stefan (or Tanavai) and his beautiful wife Manu.  We’ve spent countless hours with them at their house, on our boat, at Puaumu, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and more. 

Dada was gracious enough to showcase his pearl farm and all of his spectacular pearls with us and so many of our friends.

Heifera taught us how to carve the pretty pearl shells and gave many cruisers tours of the carving school.

Stefan, Manu, Dada, Heifera

Stefan, Manu, Dada, Heifera

One of my very special friends is Poerani (“Popo”).  She teaches English, art, and dance.  She has brought so much joy to our lives.  It was especially hard to leave her glorious smile.

Poerani a true joy

Poerani a true joy

The top photo is Titoan (he runs a small yacht services and charter business) and Juliet who is the local nurse.  Teva (lower left) is the heartbeat of Gambier and has all the connections.  Danny is a teacher and always has a pretty smile on his face!

We met Tehotu and Noella during our 3rd and 4th visit which is a shame as it would have been lovely to get to know them better.  Truly blessed family with so much love and heart to give. 

Taina (lower left) owns Taina Pearl and Keishi and she is an amazingly talented jewelry designer.  And Atuona (lower right) greeted me daily at Magasin Jojo’s. Always brought a smile to my face.

On our last night in Rikitea (the main, and only village in Gambier), we had our cruising friends over for a final farewell happy hour.  Photo: Matt, me, Dave, Pia, Daniela, Leo.  Front row: Jan, Rita, Doug, Kobe.

We head over to Taravai for our last night.  We invite Valerie, Herve, and Ariki for dinner and enjoy an intimate evening with our good friends.  They loaded us up with lots of tasty fruits and beautiful flowers.  It is Polynesian tradition to gift visitors with a shell necklace and flowers to set in the sea to welcome you back in the future.

It was super hard to capture the flowers in the sea as we were traveling 6kts, but you get the idea.

We have had countless sunsets and sunrises in Gambier, but here are a few of my favorites.  A short farewell to the day made brighter by its brilliance.

The iconic Mt. Duff on Mangareva lit up by the sunset.

A dance, fun run, and raffle during the Valentine’s Day Gambier Fundraise (see passage post).  Events from this post occurred mid-February. Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Valentine’s Day Fundraiser

The College St Rapahel De Rikitea is a middle school in Mangareva, Gambier.  They host several fundraisers each year to help pay for school supplies, books, dances, and school trips.  We were lucky enough to be present for their largest fundraiser in February.

There were many events held over Valentine’s Day weekend.  Here is an idea of the line up (just from what I heard; we did not have the actual schedule):

Fundraiser Events:

  • Friday evening included movie night and games
  • Saturday day held more games, sporting events, an artisan market, and bake off
  • Saturday evening was a school dance show with dinner
  • Sunday was a “3k fun run and valentine lunch”

We gathered a few of our cruiser friends and met for take away dinner (typical Polynesian steak frites, chicken frites, poison cru, waffles) and grabbed some seats to watch the dance show.  Our good friend Poerani (the English teacher) is one of the MCs for the night.

Poerani (Popo)’s class went first.  They did a traditional dance with about 40 kids (bottom photos in red and yellow).  Then the older classes came out and continued with the “traditional Polynesian” dances.  I loved the costumes, albeit not as flashy as the Heiva dance costumes, still colorful, bright, vibrant, and beautiful.  The kids costumes (upper right corner) were colored leaves and were just beautiful!

The older kids also put on a few “modern / rap” dances interspersed with Polynesian moves – super creative!

The musicians were also students showcasing their musical talents.  Poerani upper right corner and Danny (dance instructor lower right corner)

Then the teachers came out and did a beautiful Polynesian dance.  Poerani captured the show as she radiates beauty, grace, and style!  I was so proud of her!

Fun Run Fundraiser

We managed to convince 4 boats to join us on the “3k Fun Run.”  There was a total of 39 teams and our participation included a T-shirt, flowers, and a raffle ticket.  Everyone had their arms marked with their team number. We were number 1 simply because we were the first to sign up.  This is our cruiser group.

Because it was 13 February it was a Valentine themed event.  All the balloons were red and white, some shaped as hearts, the shirts were red with a big heart on the back.  Matt and I and our friends Jan and Daniela

A lot of our local friends joined in on the race as well.  Teva (center photo with me), Danny (upper right), Poerani and Danny (bottom left), Titoan and Juliet (right center), Poerani and I (bottom right).

As many of you know, I am not a runner!  I don’t even like to run when someone is chasing me!  I do love to walk and I can walk at a pretty fast clip (or so I thought).  Matt wore flip flops as he was convinced, we would go slow.  I was outfitted in a work out top, shorts, and tennis shoes!  Yes, I wore shoes.  As it turned out, our friends Jan and Daniela came in 4th (lost to the 3rd place couple by 9 seconds).  We came in 13th and that was only because Matt pushed me.  It was fun, but let me tell you, not my cup of tea :0


After the race there was a Valentine lunch where they did the raffle.  Some how each of our cruiser friends won something, which was super cool!   We won a heart shaped candle set and a photo shoot. 

The weekend was a huge success.  I believe the fundraiser generated to $10,000.  Keep in mind that Mangareva is one of the richest islands in French Polynesia!!!

We showcase Gambier highlights and our favorite spots with our friend Wayne.  Did you see Part I and Part II?  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.