Location: Rikatea, Gambier Islands

Date: 4/20/99

What's happening:

We've finally landed on our first real "South Pacific" islands.  Palm trees, coconuts, white sand beaches, flowers and very friendly local people.  I mention the flowers because I think a persons sense of smell become much more acute after being at sea for any length of time. One of the first things we all noticed at Pitcairn Island were the different and new smells in the air.  Rikatea's main claim to fame is the cathedral made of cut coral blocks.  It's a amazing structure, having taken over 37 years to create.  It was built by the island people under the reign of a slightly demented priest in the early 1800's.  He got it done but the islands population went from 9000 to 500.  Apparently there wasn't quite enough time to grow and catch food when building a cathedral of this size!  The local economy is now mainly cultured black pearls with subsistence fishing and agriculture.

As this was the first calm anchorage in almost 30 days, we stayed here for 3 days before moving on.  We all had a beach barbecue on Aukena, a small island 3nm from Rikatea, again cooking the last of our fishing spoils for the fleet.  One of the crew members aboard Futuro, Moanna, is a native from Bora Bora.  He showed us how to cook breadfruit in hot coals, scrape the inside of coconuts out and how to choose and cut open a drinking coconut, useful survival skills in paradise!!

From here it's cruising the Tuamotu Islands for 2 weeks...