I would like to say that we have been on a diet of non-stop discovery and adventure, but then I would be lying. Somehow ‘on Spirit of Argo’ there is always something to fix or general maintenance to do. We have had a mixed bag of weather, so it does make sense to complete some boat chores on rainy days. Also some tasks take longer to complete aboard a boat because we do not have the modern conveniences you guys have at home. Doing the laundry by hand is just one example. Luckily my humans are good at ‘pacing’ themselves and have left plenty of time between ‘boat jobs’ to have some fun and go exploring.


The lagoons of the Gambier Islands are NOT renowned for their water clarity. Run off from the island peaks and ocean currents can stir up the sandy bottom between the reefs. The west coast of Taravai is an exception to the rule and there are some excellent snorkeling areas both along the shore line and the outer reefs that parallel the bays. With the island protecting you from the prevailing winds, you can snorkel these areas very comfortably is most conditions.

The prevalence of ciguatera in the area means fish is off the dinner menu, but does mean that the reefs are full of healthy schools of a diversity of fish species. There is also a good abundance of healthy hard coral. All of these things making snorkeling a pleasure in these waters, and with so many reefs to explore, you will always find something new.


Taravai’s rugged rocky coastline is also fun to explore. At low tide rock pools and little caves are revealed. It’s undulations create coves, little beaches and palm lined terraces. The humans even found an old metal cannon washed ashore indicating an armed ship must have foundered on the reefs close by. Ships of that era were made of wood, so there would be little left of the ship wreck, but this did not stop the humans from looking for sunken treasure on the surrounding reefs any way. No luck yet.


Anchoring on the west coast of Taravai means we have an unobstructed view of sun sets…that is if the evening cloud cover participates. It is also a popular anchorage with other cruisers, so we have been able to meet boats as they pass through. The cruising lot that come down to this group of islands for the rainy season are an ‘experienced’ lot from a variety of countries. Many have been cruising for a long time and spent multiple years in French Polynesia. A great fountain of information and stories for us.

My humans have been trying out their new coconut recipes on their guests. In their effort to be more self sufficient they have been scrounging the small palm groves here in this uninhabited bay for items to diversify the menu. But they are not ‘that’ good at it…yet. Give them time. Coconut cake seems to be the most popular, but that might be because of the ‘healthy splash’ of vanilla rum that goes into it. What is it about cruisers and rum?


There are no walking trails on this side of the island. It is uninhabited, so it goes to reason that no one has made or maintained any trails. But there are goats on the island, so you can see ‘some areas’ where the animals have found a route of ‘least resistance’ to get to good grazing. With all this ‘meadow grass’ between the groves of pine trees and some evidence of a goats trails, my silly humans decided to try to hike to the top of the ridge that separates the bays. Not their best idea!

The humans are not completely to blame for the next few hours of hell. To be honest, from an anchored boat, the grass up these hills does look similar to the gentle seasonal growth in colder climates. But this is the tropics, so they should have been prepared for what we encountered instead. When we kayaked ashore to start of ‘what looked’ like a goats trail we encountered a wall of ‘over’ 2m tall thick stemmed reed.

The stocks of this grass species was so thick the only way through was to stomp on the base of the stems and try to force the roots to lift out of the thin soil enough to be ‘bent’ out of the way. This made progress up the ridge very slow, hot and tiring. But it gets worse. The growing season is all year round here, so each plant was a mixture of new growth and old dead dried stems. On the steep slope these pointed down and out ready to impale any exposed flesh. Many were the perfect height to take out an eye. You can just guess what the humans were wearing and imagine what their arms and legs looked like afterwards. But that is not the worst of it. Guess why the goats were not eating the grass? The green leaves of the plant are like ‘razors’. That is right. So when they were not being impaled the humans were being ‘sliced and diced’. You would think they would have given up, but no, they were determined. Determined that the vegetation would get thinner the higher they climbed. Determined that it would be worth the view.

You have probably already guessed that the grass did not thin out. But the view was worth it. I would not recommend anyone following our example though. Especially when we heard later that anyone who has tried to ‘bash’ their way through this kind of grass has inevitably encountered a hornets nest. Perhaps we are lucky we only came away with scratches and cuts.


The things I have to put up with. No way I am going to follow them on any more hiking adventures. I will stick to my perfectly safe beaches. But the humans are never content to sit still and are already planning the next place to visit here in the Gambier Islands.

* You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures and video to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again. That will likely happen when we get around to the main village of Rikitea on the island of Mangereva. We have heard the connection there is very bad and very, very slow. So you will have to be patient.



We made it, after a gentle 8 day sail, to the Gambier Archipelago. A cluster of four islands, and many motus, grouped around the much larger island of Mangareva. A maze of reefs creates pleasant protected lagoon anchorages at many of these islands and the whole archipelago is surround by an extensive barrier reef. With a pleura of anchorages to chose from, cruisers can find total isolation, be a guest of one of the family island ‘homesteads’ or find companionship at the most popular anchorage, Rikitea, on the main island.

Like most of the outer lying islands in French Polynesia, basic supplies are brought in by ship, but speciality orders can be made through Tahiti suppliers. Guests and ‘rush’ orders can be brought in by the bi-weekly flight from the capital that lands on an airstrip out on the barrier reef and is shuttle by boat to the main village of Rikitea.

You want a description of the area? Here is an excerpt from a tourist pamphlet.

“More than 1000 miles (1600 Kilometers) southeast of Tahiti are the remote Gambier Islands. Polynesian mythology says Mangareva was lifted from the ocean floor by the demi-god Maui. The mountains of Mangareva rise over the surrounding islands and the luminous lagoon like a great cathedral. Although once the centre for Catholicism in Polynesia, the people of Mangareva have returned to a more traditional Polynesian lifestyle and the island has become an important supply source for the Tahitian Cultured Pearl industry. Besides the pearl farms and tours of the island by road or boat, travelers can also explore the surprising number of surviving churches, convents, watchtowers, and schools from the 1800s. Some structures are still in use such as St.Michel of Rikitea Church where the altar is inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl shell.”


The towering mountains of the Gambier islands were visible well out to sea. Looking so tiny and lost at sea on the charts we were surprised how large and majestic the islands were in real life. We made landfall at Gambiers second largest island, Taravai. Just a sliver of an island compared to the much larger island of Mangareva. Taravai is still very substantial island with a spine of tall volcanic mountains settling into rolling hills and undulating valleys and bays.

We were told by a fellow cruiser who visited here (thanks Edd and Judi on s/v Clair de Lune) that a lovely family lived on this island and were very welcoming to cruisers. We could not find any information on the island in our cruising books, but were given a description of where their homestead was, but warned, we would need to give them a call on the VHF so they could lead us in through the reef passage to their personal protected lagoon anchorage.

It sounded like just the kind of adventure my humans love, but perhaps not the best landfall after a journey. I was really fancying stretching my legs after a passage, and they were likely to be unappreciative of me running about chasing their live stock. So for that reason we decided to pick an uninhabited beach anchorage not far away to start with. We found an unpublished description of a couple of protected anchorages on the uninhabited west coast of the island and decided to tuck into one of the bays on the south end called Onemea.


The zig zag of sunken reef outside the bay, and the archipelagoes barrier reef, make the anchorage very settled. The edges of the bay are ringed by reef and backed by a golden sandy beach and palm trees. But that is where the tropics end?!?! As the hills rise up from the shore the scene becomes one you would associate with an alpine meadow rather than the tropics?!? Pine trees grow in clusters interspersed by tall meadow grasses.

The bay offers great protection from the trade winds, but the surrounding hills do mean the boat seems to turn at the whim of the breeze that descends down their slopes. I am happy. I have a big long beach to run on all to myself. The humans are happy to have calm anchorage to sort the boat out and get some snorkeling in.

This blog entry is long enough! Fill you in on what we get up to and what else we discover later.

* You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures and video to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again. That will likely happen when we get around to the main village of Rikitea on the island of Mangereva. If they have their generator fixed. For now just use our SSB radio sailmail account to contact us.




Position: (can be cut and pasted into google earth): 23 09.045S 135 03.331W Distance traveled today(as the crow flies): 113 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 0 nm
Number of fish caught: Fish 2: Spirit of Argo 0. Our usual fishing luck was rubbish on this trip. It was either too ‘frisky’ to fish safely or we were going too slow. The fish we did catch were so large they just broke the 100lb test line and we lost 1.5 lures. We did get a small crushed piece of one back? Oh,well.

Last night the wind filled in nicely from the south. So nicely we had to slip in a reef on the main at dusk to slow us back down a bit. We wanted to make the Gambier Islands around noon when we would have the best light for navigating the reef system.

We heard a boat, sailing east towards Pitcairn Island from the Gambier, on the net in the evening. They were sailing through a squall with lots of lightning and thunder. Something we have been dreading. But our luck held and the skies stayed clear, the stars came out to shine. The distant flashes of light on the horizon were a reminder of how lucky we were.

After an easy sail through the night we were greeted by our final sun rise on passage. Initially the winds eased. One of the silly humans thought it would be a good idea to clean some of the salt spray off the boat and the sprayhood windows. As soon as she was done the wind doubled in strength and we slipped another reef in for our final approach to the Gambier Islands. And yes, the boat got covered in salt spray again.

The group of islands came into view early in the day. The islands were much larger with higher peaks than we expected. I could smell the beaches long before we got there and was disappointed when the humans slowed down a bit, on final approach, to let a small band of showers pass in
front of us. With the sun back out we headed into the reef surrounding this group of islands.

We decided a bit of R&R off a beach was required before heading over to the main village of Rikatea, on the island of Mangareva. The humans picked a pretty bay with an uninhabited little beach surrounded by coral reefs for our landfall. Onemea Bay on the island of Taravai. Now I am just waiting for them to drop the kayaks so we can go exploring ashore

We have been very lucky on this journey. In fact I might say it is one of the nicest ‘longer’ passages we have done. We only got one day where things go a bit salty, otherwise we had pretty settled seas the whole way. Usually when people imagine a sail ‘to wind’ they think of driving waves and wind on the nose. Getting all bashed up! But we were very fortunate to have settled seas, so even if our progress was slow at times, it was always a pleasant journey. The kind of sailing we all dream of.

We have lots of islands to explore here. Snorkeling, hiking, diving, other cruisers to meet and the usual list of boat jobs. I am sure we will keep busy for the remainder of the summer season.

Where the Swiss Alps meet the tropics. Curious? Join us for the next instalment of Quinn’s little adventures.

* You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures and video to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again.




Position: (can be cut in pasted into google earth): 23 12.620S 137 01.256W Distance traveled today(as the crow flies): 126 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 113nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far. ‘Caught’ has to include getting the fish aboard, and so far the fish are winning. A couple of ‘biggies’ have run away with a few of our favourite lurers, but no one landed yet.

Last night the wind died. The sea became completely flat. Not a ripple on the surface of the gentle undulations of the ocean swell. This flat surface made a perfect mirror to the stars and the night illuminate up like a Fourth of July celebration.

Staring up into the sky you can not help but get captivated by the density of stars that make up the great swath of the Milky Way. We are just one solar system in the billions that swirl around our galaxy. Being situated on an outer arm, we get to look back through this dense swirl of stars as we spin endlessly into the expanding infinity of the Universe.

Getting sick of this poetic rhetoric? Almost done, promise.

As the boat cut gently through the calm ocean surface tiny organisms became agitated stimulating them to release chemicals that allowed them to bio-luminesce. It seemed like sheets of light spread out around the boat giving the feeling of riding on a magic carpet.

Done with the poet stuff, promise.

This morning the winds returned. A gentle breeze has come from the south south east to guide us in on the final leg of our journey. If the winds stay fair we should be able to sail into the Gambier Islands by afternoon tomorrow?

Our luck with the weather still seems to be holding. A few heavy clouds and rain passed by ahead of us, but so far we have not been hit by anything and the skys look generally clear and sunny again.

We passed one of the last of the atolls, Morane, before we reach the Gambier. Being so close to land we usually encounter a lot more sea birds. Yesterday it was Tropic birds. Elegant white birds with an orange beak and distinctive long trailing tail feathers. None seemed to ‘glow in the dark’. (See last blog about nuclear testing)
Today it was Boobies and the game of ‘chase the Boobies off’. Why do they always want to land on my boat? They are quite persistent as well. It has been my unending job to keep these fine feathered friends from pooping on my deck space!

The humans are doing their usual human stuff. Making food, doing dishes, reading, adding oil to the engine, cleaning, watching movies. Me I am doing my usual doggy stuff, and making them clean up after me. We have all really enjoyed the sail, but can not wait to stretch our legs again when get anchored off a lovely tropical island with a long white sandy beach. Gambier’s here we come!

* You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again. We have heard through the cruisers net that the generator in Rikitea is down. It has to be sent by ship back to Tahiti for repairs. It may be a while before you get any pictures or video. Sorry guys.




Position: (can be cut in pasted into google earth): 22 44.878S 139 13.714W Distance traveled (as the crow flies): 102 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 239 nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far. Technical difficulties with one of the rods, actually human neglect, and it will need some TLC and oiling. Down to one rod. Hoping with more speed today we will have more action.

Last night was a lovely sail. The winds stayed light, but became more favourable and we were starting to make a more direct course. The sea state was settled, a gentle rise and fall of the swell, and the sky was filled with stars. It is always a good thing when the sky is full of stars because you know the cloud cover is light and you are less likely to encounter any squalls. In fact we have been very lucky on this trip, so far, and have not encountered any squalls. A small miracle at this time of year. We have been exceptionally lucky with the weather window.

This morning our pleasant winds died. They returned shortly after but very light and on the nose. Sail boats can not sail directly into the wind. The wind is very light, so we decided not to tack and instead burn some of the fuel we brought with us. So the engine has started and we are chugging alone eating fossil fuels.

Motoring for a day is not that bad of an idea, even though my humans moan about it. The batteries could do with a good ‘topping up’ after running all the navigation, auto pilot and lights. The winds are light and the sea state gentle, so it is not a bad time to be working directly into the wind. And finally the winds are set to become more favorable tonight or tomorrow, so we should be back sailing in no time. We only have a couple of days left of the trip, so we should be fine for fuel reserves.

We are just south of two atolls the French used to test nuclear weapons on above, and later, below ground. Mururoa and Fangataufa. The military facilities are abandon now, and visiting the islands is restricted. Not that we fancy a dose of residual radiation for the thrill of checking them out, but we have read that you can get special permission and sailors have stopped in and there through a man made cut in the reef. Maybe you guys would be more daring?

Not us! We have a day of motoring and then another day or two of sailing and we should be anchored up in the ‘radiation free’ Gambier Islands in no time.

You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again.
A special happy birthday to Joseph, our nephew back in the UK, and Edd from the s/v Clair de Lune. Have a great day guys!




Position: (can be cut in pasted into google earth): 22 23.600S 141 01.450W Distance traveled (as the crow flies): 68 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 341 nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far. The humans have finally got the lines back in the water, but the boat speed is so low the fish are laughing at our plastic plugs. More on that later

Well I do not know about the humans, but I love this kind of gentle sailing. Working our way slowly to wind does mean the boat is heeled over a bit, but in these light airs, and the fact the humans are pointing so tight, it really is the gentlest of tilts…most of the time. The wind does pick up occasionally, and the humans get excited that we are making way, but then it dies back off again.

I do not know why they worry so much about getting anywhere. I miss the beach, but if I have to be out at sea it might as well be a pleasant trip, with gentle winds and seas, and best of all I have no waves crashing over my play area. Doing my best to insist the humans play fetch while the conditions allow. We all knew we would hit some light shifting winds half way along our route. So we will continue this lovely gentle sail until we hit some winds a little closer to the Gambier.

The humans have been checking into the Cruiser’s SSB net twice daily. (See last blog for details). 8am and 6pm Tahiti time. Boats are calling in from all over French Polynesia. Society Islands, Tuamotus, Gambier but not much from the Marquesas. We are the only boat calling in that is underway. Most boats are staying put until the unsettled weather of season is over. Some awful weather blew through Tahiti before we left. They got similar weather at the time in the Gambier Islands, and we are using a settled break to make this journey. We all really want to make the protection of the Gambier Islands before the next system hits. So far the weather is holding and we have been OK.

In light winds, there is really not much you can do. If it was on the beam we could put up the cruising chute but, as we are traveling to wind, there is not much we can do to increase our speed. We just keep crawling along. The winds have also turned easterly, so we have left the rum line and are headed now more south. This may suit us better when the winds fill back in later in our journey.

Going slow is great for a relaxing sail, but rubbish for making progress. But we will just have to live with it. Going slow is also rubbish for fishing. Most species, including Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo, prefer their bait to be moving a little faster. In fact one of the humans was up the bow taking some pictures and spotted a group of tuna swimming along side. She thought at first they were dolphins, these were big boys, but so close to the surface the outline and fin shape was cleary tuna. They glowed with a sort of splotchy blue light in the sun. Could these be the highly valued Blue Fin Tuna so prized in Asia? Looking at the immense size of these powerful beasts, perhaps it was better they had no interest in our bobbing plugs. Perhaps they just came up to see if any fish were hiding under our keel.

SO ONWARD AND ‘DOWNWARD’ we go heading south toward the Gambier Islands. I looked on the charts and worked out that the Gambier Islands are on the opposing latitude of Miami, Florida. This would explain why they have a tropical climate most of the year, but can get a bit chilly in the winter months. Looking forward to visiting there.

You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again.




Position: (can be cut in pasted into google earth): 21 26.307S 142 05.844W Distance traveled (as the crow flies): 103 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 409 nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far. Admittedly the line have not been in the water much

After I left you we continued on our way southeast with some gradual building of the winds. Just enough to keep us heeled over and sailing along. As you can see from the stats above, we have not averaged more than 4 knots, but with the sea state so settled, it has been a pleasant and relaxing sail. You need these calm easy days some times. It reminds you why you like sailing so much. Last night all the stars came out. The moon is rising late, so you could see the milky way in all it’s splendor.

The calm sailing has meant life aboard is pretty easy and the menu has improved. Fried breakfasts and cooked dinners mean, as official ‘pre-washer’, that I get much more than boring dog food. I have been nudging them to do a bit of cleaning and boat work, but after yesterdays 3 hours of toilet fixing, they haven’t quite got the motivation back yet?

You may have also noticed that we are over half way to the Gambier Islands now. The brisk favourable winds, at the beginning of our passage, certainly got us to this point quickly. I am afraid we have a region of lighter winds to cross over, so our rate will slow. We may also encounter some counter productive winds further south. The humans have been chatting with cruisers anchored up at the Gambier Islands and they have been getting southeast winds at the moment. Hopefully they change by the time we get down that far.

The humans have been using their single sideband (SSB) radio to stay in contact with a cruisers net that broadcasts every day at 1800 UTC and 0400 UTC on frequency 8173 MHz USB. It is a volunteer service that helps share information and keep track of boats underway. Very reassuring to have someone tracking us. Especially true as we have had rubbish reception to get emails, the blog and weather. Probably because my humans were too cheap to buy the best model of modem interface!

BUT ALL IS WELL aboard Spirit of Argo and everyone is enjoying the light and gentle sailing conditions. Hope you guys are having a little ‘smooth sailing’ yourselves.

You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again. We have been having a little trouble sending information at the moment. Receiving seems to be fine. So we are getting your emails, just having trouble sending you guys individual replies back.


25. February 2019 · Comments Off on Tahiti to the Gambier Islands – Passage updates – Day 3 – Boat repairs · Categories: Uncategorized

You can not sail a straight line between these two areas as there are a few small atolls and islands in the way. If fact we are turning a bit south at the moment to pass under a small group of islands called the Islands of the Duke of Gloucester.


Position: (can be cut in pasted into google earth): 20 41.210S 143 45.454W Distance traveled (as the crow flies): 133 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 512 nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far. The lines came up yesterday when the seas got frisky. Then the humans got busy on boat repairs so they have not yet gone back down again.

After we left you yesterday the winds built up a bit…and so did the seas. With the building waves and the wind forward of the beam everyone was getting a little salty. Even the humans temporary camode, in the back corner of the boat, was not safe from the driving spray. Note to humans: ‘Now you know what I have to deal with’. We slipped another reef into the main sail and slowed the boat down to make it easier on the poor old autopilot. No problems as by evening it had calmed down nicely.

We have been so lucky with brisk favourable winds, it was only inevitable they would begin to wane. By the morning we had to shake out all the reefs. We are still making some progress southeast, on our rum line to the Gambier, but the winds have turned on the nose and progress has slowed finally to 3 knots. But no rain! No big seas! In fact the seas are so light we were able to open up all the portholes and hatches to let some air into the boat finally.

Time to fix the head! Not a nice job in a calm anchorage, it is even made worse at sea. Calm seas does not mean flat, and the boat still pitches a bit with passing waves. We are also sailing to wind, so the boat heels, and everything tries to either roll away or land on you. Wet, slippery, greasy, dirty….and so on. So glad it is not my job. I have humans to clean up after me. Finally the humans got the system fixed and put all back together again. It all seemed like too much work for me. They should just have continued going ‘el fresco’ with me.

All the weather models we looked at indicated we were going to hit some lighter winds somewhere between Tahiti and the Gambier. So this is not unexpected. Hopefully the weather will stay fine and we will have enough wind to gradually move into some better winds further along. Everything is good, I have a drier boat to run around on and we are making progress towards our goal. Nothing to complain about. Except a few mangoes for dinner would be nice.


You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again. Do not expect any of the loo repair. Believe me, you did not want to see them anyway. It was not a pretty sight!


24. February 2019 · Comments Off on Tahiti to the Gambier Islands – Passage updates – Day 2 – Just getting our sea legs · Categories: Uncategorized

Everyone is different, but on our boat it usually takes the crew a day or two to get their sea legs. Everyone just sleeps, reads and watches movies. The broken sleep, of the night watch system, always takes a couple of turns to get used to. The movement of the boat makes all activity a little harder. My humans always pre-make a few simple meals to keep galley time down. But after a day or two we all adapt and life goes on.

Stuff breaking down at sea is always a pain. The movement of the boat always makes repairs a little harder and a little more dangerous. Most stuff you can live without until you get back on anchor, but some stuff you have to sort out. Our first break down is the head. The humans were just saying that perhaps they had the piston in the toilet finally sorted. Then it gammed again. Darn! The Grocco toilets are a simple piston system, and easy to fix, but not necessarily on a boat pitching about at sea. So the humans have decided to wait for some calmer weather to take the head apart. For now they have set up an ‘el fresco’ head out the back of the boat.

We have been very lucky. The winds have been between 15-20 knots, which is a very comfortable speed for our boat. The swell is about 1.5m with an extra 0.5m on top of wind driven chop. We have had the wind on the beam (side of the boat) or just forward. This has meant we do get the occasional wave splashing up over the boat, but generally dry and not too salty.
But the skies have been pretty clear, light cloud cover, but thankfully no squalls. That was our biggest worry on this trip as it is the rainy season. Passing squalls really mess up the wind direction and speed, making sailing more difficult. For that reason we hope to continue to avoid them.


You can not sail a straight line between these two areas as there are a few small atolls in the way. If fact we are turning a bit south at the moment to pass under a small atoll 45nm ahead of us called Hereheretue.


Distance traveled (as the crow flies): 129 nm
Distance left to travel (as the crow flies): 645 nm
Number of fish caught: Zero so far.

You are getting this blog by the miracle of radio waves, so you will have to wait for the pictures to be added later ‘when’ we get some internet again.