Alone Like a Rolling Stone


We celebrate farewell with Caroline and Paul from the SY Giebateau. The two check out of French Polynesia and sail to Tonga. A good weather window has caused them to do so. This is a pity, because we have made friends with them during the last days. But we stay in contact and have exchanged our data. Today is Mother's Day in the Gambier Islands and the mothers all have a wreath of flowers on their heads.

Flower girl on Taravai, Gambiers

We drove over to Taravai again, and take part in the Sunday BBQ. This time the grill is set up outside and again there is plenty to eat. Everyone has brought plenty. We meet the Brazilian crew of KAT who, as Voice of the Oceans, make videos of their sea voyages and are very well known, at least in South America. We also meet the son-in-law of Fritz, our TO site manager. Unfortunately, we have not yet met Fritz personally, as he is currently in Tahiti. But what is not, can still become. Sunday is very warm and sunny. Why do I mention this? We have winter here now and the temperatures have dropped quite a bit. In the morning with just under 20°C, they rise, over the day, to not much more than 25°C. Then, when we have a south wind, it feels like 15°C. In this time also more precipitation falls than in the summer and so we are glad to have caught once again a perfect day. From Tihotou I learn that at the moment 2100 people live on the Gambiers. Mainly they live from pearl farming, a few from stores selling consumer goods, and then there is the community as an employer. For Patrick and Tihotou, there are now too many. But what can you do, they say. Caroline and Paul have been on the road for 17 years now and are slowly heading home. The two come from the Netherlands and still have a long way to go.

Katinka under sail, Gambiers

With their experience, the two have helped us a lot. The two rigging wires that are torn, and whose replacement I ordered in Tahiti, have arrived by plane in the meantime. Paul helps me to replace them. We take the tension back a little, as they were very tight. Before I had them replaced in Tenerife, they had a tension of 7.5 on the scale, when I remeasured them they were 9. This seemed too much to me at the time, but I didn't think anything of it. We go back to 7.5, which is supposed to be 15% of the breaking load, from the wire. Paul agrees that this is quite sufficient. So we can cross another item off our to do list. We sail southwest to Makaroa, but are a bit unlucky with the wind, as we have to tack on the way back. So a few hours turns into almost a day again. On our return to Mangareva we unfortunately find that our problem Frenchman has changed anchorage. When we anchor again at the same place, he is only 150 meters away from us. This is not a problem under normal circumstances, but the yacht is not anchored with a chain, but with a rope. With 20 meters water depth a daring venture. In Rikitea it often whistles from the hills into the anchor field and there are air turbulences that turn the anchored yachts 360°. The chain, by its weight, holds the anchor down in the sand, while the line is too light and sets the anchor at an angle and then breaks free when it turns. As a result, the yacht starts to drift. When it has drifted back to within 20 meters of us, we raise anchor and look for a new spot, far away from him. Now we have another way to the dinghy dock, but we avoid the stress at night, when the yacht again goes on a big trip, in the anchor field.

SY Giebateau at anchor, Gambiers

The next morning, SY Giebateau disappears with full sails behind the headland that takes away our view to the west. One last time, we talk on the radio and wish each other well. We go ashore and try to get an internet connection at the yacht service. It succeeds only sporadically, because too many people have dialed into the hotspot and the data comes in very slowly and goes out just as slowly. Yesterday two more yachts arrived, so that we are again twelve boats in the anchor field. A French yacht is from Chile and has been to Easter Island and Pitcairn. We listen to their interesting report. Titou, who runs the yacht service with Juliette, calls Tahiti for me and asks if the parts I ordered have arrived on the next supply ship. The dealers confirm this, and so the ship, on June 10, leaves Papeete and arrives on June 17, with my spare parts. Then we would be complete again and ready for new adventures.

Pearl from the Gambiers

But we stay, despite the cold, still a bit here, because we have not seen everything yet and maybe we get used to the European spring temperatures. For the water then comes the wetsuit to use, which we already drag four years with us. So far only the "Shorty" was in use. So it's about time that I also use the "Long John". And also, to Gaby's chagrin, hiking is on the program. But we'll tell you about that next time. Until then, always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.