Sailing with YELO

02 February 2019 | Gambier
02 February 2019 | Gambier
22 January 2019 | Gambier
21 January 2019 | Sailing to Marutea 122 miles to Gambier
20 January 2019 | Sailing past REAO 295 miles to Gambier
19 January 2019 | on the way to Gambier
18 January 2019 | on the way to Gambier
16 January 2019 | FATU HIVA, OMOA
14 January 2019 | Omoa / Fatu Hiva
09 January 2019 | FATU HIVA
05 January 2019 | FATU HIVA
03 January 2019 | Tahuata, Baie
02 January 2019 | Vaitahu, Tahuata
30 December 2018 | Vaitahu, Tahuata
25 December 2018 | Vaitahu, Tahuata
21 December 2018 | Vaitahu, Tahuata
13 December 2018 | Tahuata, Baie Hanamoenoa

"Religious" sailors in Gambier

02 February 2019 | Gambier
Rolf
The people of Rikitea had a visit from a local priest. For his 20 year anniversary of becoming a priest they organized a surprise party with Polynesian dance and a giant buffet. Since he no longer works in his own parish, it was only natural that he should read a mass in his own big church. So off we went to yet another service with singing and praying. This time I was quiet surprised to see so many sailors in church. I don't think they feel happy that a local boy has been priest for 20 years �.... nobody cares. But when the service ended it was clear why they came: It's the rush to the FREE buffet. I was amazed how many cruisers were in front!!! Many of them can't keep quiet during the ceremony. I don't see the point going to ANY religious service and blab. But blab so loud, the locals turned around and they had difficulty hearing anything. So we both sat back and watched them all running for the buffet. Not only the cruisers were fast. It was quiet something to see the 200 kilo women running that fast. Usually they slurp thru town at a very slow pace and I feel sorry for their knees. As we watched , we where continuously reminded by the locals that THERE IS FOOD !! And that we must go and get some. Ok ok . We were last in line and thought to get some leftovers , but no. When it comes to cooking they take it VERY serious. Tons of fish, pork and chicken etc. Daniela even found a salad, ignored by most islanders. They love taro, manioc , potatoes and anything with meat. Covered in a hefty coconut sauce�...it was delicious. Thank you. Talking about rude and loud behavior of sailors, here is a good one: I sit at a mini market that has a small restaurant. They are kind enough to let us use their internet as much as we want. There is no sign or word that you have to consume anything there. Sailors are as tight as a fishes ass and consume: nothing. I just bought our groceries there, so today I am not guilt ridden and sit at one of their lovely tables' right at the beach. I start chatting with a Swiss sailor. But he is not very talkative and leaves soon to get his baguettes. Most of us are busy staring into our devices, what else is new? When he comes back from the bakery, he sees that a French woman took HIS chair, next to HIS wife. Now he starts shouting at the poor French lady in his rocky SWISS Aenglish. �"GIIIve MEE mei CHAIHHR , siss iiss mei CHAIAIR�"!! The French women jumps up and returns HIS CHAIAIR and looks rather frightened. There were other chairs and he could have easily taken one next to me .Then he starts with me.�" She should have asked! She has no manners, to steal my CHAIAIR�". I shake my head and say NO to him. He doesn't get my support and so he continues to stare into his phone. After he finished chewing half of his baguette he leaves. It's quiet again. When I was done, I put his and all other CHAIRS back into place and discovered that the whole table is now full of bread crumbs. The floor is also full of sand from them, not just a little bid: it's a fucking mess!! So I clean everything and it starts to dawn on me, why so many Polynesian's have enough of us. We are rude, we are messy and we don't even say thank you when get something for free. We went biking 3 days ago and stopped at La Mairie, the town hall, to get info about free wifi at the sports center. 3 men sat outside and I asked them about it. �"Oh we had to close the wifi down. The young kids sat there all day, didn't go to school and left a mess of bottles and papers.�"

Too bad�...but this web disease is worldwide. But then the conversation turns to the bread that is now available. What a conversation: bread today, no bread tomorrow. �"So, how long was the last bread-break?. �" Oh, this one only a week.�" And what is the longest period you had no bread�....�" ONE month�" they all laugh. But I wanted to know, why on earth the baker doesn't order enough and then some extra in case the ship breaks down. Again, great laughter. It happens to them all the time. But the baker is only baking not ordering .That's somebody else and that person often goofs it up, or he just spends the money elsewhere and has nothing left to buy flour�... It's not a big issue for the locals. The word gets around that the baker runs out of flour soon. Then they all load up on baguettes and fill their freezer. That means he runs out even faster!! And so it goes every month: the same story, no bread in a few weeks�.....until the ship comes in �...funny Today the �"Taporo�" is in port .This is the quiet supply ship. You can ask Carrefour in Tahiti to fill up a box with food. They ship it to you via one of those freighters that come in twice a month. I wonder who would pay for the excellent logistics of these freighters if they get their independence.

We met wonderful people along the north side of the island. A man that helped organized this free buffet at church and another man with a huge smile in Taku, a tiny village with a pretty yellow church. This was the first time I heard a rather devastating report on Polynesian work ethics, by a Polynesian himself. I asked him why they still hire so many Japanese and Chinese to work on the delicate pearl-oysters. I said: �" I know it's tricky work, but not impossible. Can't you learn it from the Chinese or go to a local pearl-school?�" He said. �"Off course you can! Once you hire the Chinese, they are on your payroll and they will show you. But the Polynesian's only have Friday on their mind. They just think of the big break and �....PARTY TIME.�" �"But can they work 8 hours nonstop? �" I ask . �" Sometimes they can, but the problem is the weekend. They just drink too much and then they have a headache Monday and Tuesday and simply don't show up for work. This happens EVERY weekend. So they need the Chinese. The Chinese are lodged and fed and you pay the flight. Comes to about 35 000$ a month. They work 6 days a week, but if you pay them, they work 7 days. No Polynesian will do that. He had to go back to his big project: a traditional house. Many of those old stone houses were left to rot, since �"maintenance�" is not known here. A small leak at the roof and the water does the rest until the roof comes down. They just build another one. But this man got help from town with the heavy timber to build a new roof. Once you have a stone house with high ceilings, no need for fans or Air-condition�...its cool inside. I am surprised to hear a Polynesian talk like this about his own people and I tell him that. He just shrugs and smiles�...�"That's the way they are. I've been in pearls for many years, I know our people.�"

It's a beautiful ride around the island. It would be even nicer if I had brakes on my bike, so I wouldn't have to walk my bike downhill. It's a Chinese bike and the disk brakes are dead�...oh well, Now we need parts. They have nothing on this island. But we came back with loads of vegetables. The people grow them and give them to us, but they don't eat them. They like potato chips, steaks and cookies�....but they are great�...the people I mean.

Getting organized in Gambier.

02 February 2019 | Gambier
Rolf
If you have already cleared in and you arrive in any French Polynesian island you are supposed to register with the local Gendarmerie, the cop shop. Some of them don't care and look at you rather puzzled when you show up. Others like here in Rikitea take it serious and start filling out stuff on their computer. I don't know what it's all for and often you must wait a day or two to find anybody in the cop shop. They must be busy chasing the frequent armed robberies here JIts a joke and I don't know why the police is never in their office. So after we did all the paperwork we asked the Gendarme Lady if it was safe to keep our bicycles locked up somewhere on a lamp post. �" Oh mais, NON�" . We have thieves here. Especially bikes they like to steal. We do find the bikes after a while but often they throw them into the ocean and it's a hassle for us .So please don't leave you're bikes on land. It's too dangerous. Since the Cop shop has a nice fence and alarm system I asked them if I could keep them here�...Fat chance, no way!! Beside the Gendarmerie there is also the �"Police Municipal�". I have seen a few of them driving thru town. All in all I am sure they must have a dozen cops. Somehow it seems weird they can't keep the low life bikes thieves in check in this tiny island of 1000 people. Most of the islanders look rather peaceful, so it must be just a handful of young kids that they can't control. They should take those cops and send them to Singapore. There they just give you the cane if you don't behave. The whole world is shocked off course, but not much crime there and they have millions of people. For this and a few other things i miss Singapore, but i would not want to live there. We saw the supply ship "Nukuhau" coming in and it was a day and a half of chaos unloading a few containers. Everybody that ordered a fridge or something drives in with his huge pick-up truck and the port becomes a mess. I looked puzzled and realized: this is not very organized. And it's not the first time they do this. The ship has a generator on board but no muffler, so the whole island rattles along with this stinky noise while they are in port. The baker got his flour .We saw them unloading tons of drinking water and a truck load of chicken feed. I guess they feed their chicks expensive food rather than coconuts�...oh well. A truck load of black earth for flower pots arrived as well. Makes no sense with such good topsoil and tons of greenery to compost your own earth if you wanted to. Then it's off to the Post office. We are now semi legal residents. For paying the web and the mobile phone we are now proud owners of a bank account with �"La Poste�". The debit card was send to Nuku Hiva. Now we had it sent to Gambier. All well and clear �...it only takes a month, by air mail!! Any procedure, if it's the web or Post or anything government is extremely complicated and involves tons or paper. It feels like you are in the Third World. Impossible to open a web or bank account online�...they love papers that are sent to Tahiti for more stamps and a more approvals. The people here believe sincerely that they should have independence. But if they function like this, they would be bankrupt and as poor as Tonga or Vanuatu in no time. France of course pays for everything and covers the deficit. A major conversation piece is the local corruption. Elected and other officials fill their bank accounts in Japan or Switzerland. And France pays for everything. Nobody is ever convicted.It would be "white justice", they dont want that anymore. Voila I look at them how they �"organize�" a small port and it shows the real tragedy of the situation. France has kept them like children, and they haven't done much to grow up either. Their education is very poor. I often ask kids or young adults. Where is my island; Switzerland? Where in the world is it located?? They have no clue. Then I ask them to name me a few neighbors of France�....nothing . Maybe Russia or America ? They are ashamed and smile. It was pleasant at the post office and rather efficient. The funny thing was that while we were dealing with our card, many people came in and asked for cash. The post office is the only place where you can get cash. But she looked into her drawer and it was empty. The Post office is out of money!! She ordered cash a while ago but it never came. After we deposited 10 000 Francs into my account, there was a bid of a struggle who would get my money. It's about 100US $ After a week of no bread, the baker finally got flour for his baguettes. 5 am you have to be there. At 5h05 he was sold out. Next bread is at 14h00 sharp. This time Daniela was there at 13h30, but the electrician had to do maintenance on the village generator. So no power�.... No power: no bread. She finally got some at 16h00 ooof!! We found apples, TWO DOLLARS each !! and onions garlic, disgusting cheese, hormone chicken and not much else. Its gonna be slim pickings for a few months here. The Marquesan shops are paradise compared to this place. If you're not happy here, you can always make a visa run to Pitcairn Island with a population of 35 British souls. Not much shopping there. It's an easy sail of 290 miles. Then you roll at the �"anchorage�" for two days, pay 100$ for the passport stamp and come back for another 3 years in FrogPoly. By that time you must love the shopping here. Mangos and Lechees are out of season now. But they have Coconuts and Papaya and apples from the USA!! Life is good here, 24C at night 30C during the day with a light breeze. When the ship comes in many yachts pile up and fill their boats.Today they all left to another island where they have a public BBQ. They are all French boats and they call it a " Barbec" . I asked one French sailor if there was a French word for burning flesh on a fire. He thought for a while then he smiled and said " Mais oui une grillade" voila. Nobody knows why they use all these English terms. We do the same in Switzerland. Danielas Mom is in her 70s and when she vegges in front of her tube she " chilles". A term well established in Swiss German. I chill , you chill, we all chill....WTF ???

motoring thru the pearls to get to Rikitea the BIG town

30 January 2019 | Gambier
Rolf
It was a pleasant and quiet week in Aukena. The rather negative reception we got is now resolved . It seems standard here that Bernard and his wife chase away all yachts that anchor in front of his house. That's just the way he does it here�....if you like it or not! We stayed on board for 5 days, cleaning the salty forward compartments and fixing a few leaks. One evening Bernard came for a visit and I gave him a beer. That seems to be the trick. He warmed up quickly and told us his life story. A day later we went ashore and he took us along to the windward side thru a beautiful stone arch. All along the trail we picked fruits and chatted. I sat with him for a few hours as Daniela took a walk to the church. Many interesting stories about him and the island. He had a job finding water with his pendulum all over Polynesia. He has been to Pitcairn many times. He takes care of the Pitcairn islanders when they come here for medical reasons. Then we took my dingy to his garden and loaded up a bag with 20 kilos of Papayas and gave them to the yachts in the anchorage�...many happy faces. And again as I talked and translated for the yachts, I felt it was strange for them to be here. All they get is a view and nothing at all from the locals. Or very little because the English the locals speak is very poor. You can't really have a conversation, and you can't get into an argument like I did first with Bernard. I often think of the English speaking boats, See Germans, Scandinavians or Asians that don't speak a word of French. WTF are they doing here?? I would be so lost�...Or I would be like I was in Japan�...terribly lost�...but learning slowly to say: �"Wakaranei�" (I don't understand). J

I miss Japan....the people..the culture and the FOOD�...ill be there again before I kick the bucket

Unfriendly reception in the Gambier Islands

23 January 2019 | Gambier
Rolf
It was a long trip for the old captain. I call it orangutan sailing. I move about our large cockpit with all four hands holding on to my overhead rope-handles or anything I can grab. If you just move without holding on, the jerky motion of Yelo throws you into a usually hard object. The many bruises that you hit twice already start to hurt. I often think: You are getting to old for this Rolf. But then again the last 24 hours were fine, same NE wind but a gentle swell from the side made all the difference. We made it in to the lagoon and anchored on a beautiful beach on Ile Aukena. Turquoise waters and flat calm seas, palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. We thought we arrived in paradise�....until�...�... We get a visit from two locals, Bernard and Marie Noele. They looked rather serious and told us that we are anchored in front of their house and that we have to move away!! I thought this was a bad joke since we were exactly 160 meters from the beach and about 250 meters from his house. But he insisted: I don't want to see ANY boat from my house. I told him the ocean belongs to everyone and there is no sign on my charts that won't allow me to anchor. He starts shouting and tells me that I can leave Gambier if I am not happy with his �"decision�". �"OOff�" I explain that I am a little tired now. I just arrived after 5 days and nights of bumpy sailing. In my 18 years around the world ,I have never received such a �"welcome�". I told him, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Africans, the Latinos and all the islanders worldwide where always happy to see my boat. But his answer was NO. Julien, a friendly yachtie drove them in his dingy and he said, he anchored there as well and moved away when Bernard told him. So rather than creating a big stink, we decided to move 100 meters east, so they couldn't see us from their house anymore. Its quiet here and the other houses on land don't seem to bother. Bernard also told us that we can't walk anywhere since it's all private. But on his land we can walk�... I'll check it out today. And as I am rather astonished by this negative reception, I think it would be a great conversation with the Major of this island. I have been to a few Majors offices and I find its always interesting to chat with them. I am really curious to see what he makes of this Bernard and Marie Noele situation. Do they need yachts ? Are they welcoming tourists or not? The Marqueasans told me that the Gambier people are not so friendly. They are interested to count their pearls and money. No time talking, they said. I read similar stories on the web�...more news on that later �.... Bernard mentioned that sometimes he has 19 yachts in front of his house. I can understand that yachts starting to be a plague for many beach houses. The country and each island have to make clear guidelines on what we can do and what NOT. More news from paradise in a few days �... The internet only works a 3 seconds at the time. Yesterday we couldn't do any web at all. My SSB radio is also dead�...oh well : welcome to paradise!!

Anchored in Ile Aukena

22 January 2019 | Gambier
Rolf
A little tired and grumpy after a rather bumpy trip. Thank good we were broad reaching the last night and only a few squalls. Now we are anchored at Ile Aukena in turquoise flat waters. What a relieve after months of rolling in the Marqueasas. But no internet here. Every hour it seems to work for 2 seconds and then it dies. I knew about this ,so its not enough to do anything. More later after my siesta .

Gambier ETA Tuesday 11am

21 January 2019 | Sailing to Marutea 122 miles to Gambier
Rolf
Its sailing towards the Southern Cross. The skie is blue and the squalls have stoped. And i got surprised by a lunar eclipse last night. What a weird looking sky with dooms day colors and a reddish moon. It took about 2 hours until we had the full moon back again. But its time that we arrive ...the captain is anxious. This evening we will sail along another forgotten atoll in the middle of no where; Marutea . Reao had internet and it looked nice , but no real anchorage and the weather says go go go ,the winds might change to South East. So we better get to Gambier .All is well on board and nothing major has broken.. But the list of things to fix in Gambier is growing off course.
Vessel Name: YELO
Vessel Make/Model: CATANA 431
Hailing Port: LANGKAWI
Crew: ROLF & DANIELA
YELO's Photos - Main
No Photos
Created 10 January 2019