We had an amazing day yesterday - we motored along the coast in our dinghy with Peter and Heidi aboard and landed at a beautiful little village. The locals were very friendly (they were a bit more reserved at the other 2 islands) and the place is beautiful. We were after some fruit and veg so walked up the road and found a house with pamplemousse (grapefruit) and mango trees growing in a large garden. In Graham's best (terrible) French he asked if we could buy some and was given 8 huge pamplemousse and 6 ripe mangos and they wouldn't take any money (or t-shirts we'd brought for bartering). The dinghy ride back to the boats was interesting – we stopped the engine in the bay to watch dolphins leaping out of the water and then we were soon punching into little waves so all got soaked (in very warm water). We got back to Maunie only to find we'd lost our boat keys! We dinghied back to the village (much quicker with only 2 aboard as the boat would plane at speedboat speeds) and, as we arrived in the anchorage, there was a local fishing boat with 3 men aboard who waved to us, wanting a lift ashore. One of them was the size of a Samoan rugby player so his mates laughed when I obviously looked worried as to whether the dinghy would take his weight but we took him ashore then picked up the other two.
Our good deed obviously helped our luck as we found the lost keys in the orchard where we'd loaded our bag with fruit (huge relief all round) and then as we walked back to the landing place one of the fishermen came out from his house with a box of ripe mangoes as thanks for our help. We are now looking for more mango recipes.
Returning to Maunie for a second time we had a late lunch then joined a sundowner dinghy raft – crews from all 10 boats in the anchorage rafted up and shared snacks and drinks for a very convivial hour or so. There were 10 nationalities represented but a common purpose that cut through any language barriers. The camaraderie between cruising boats is great and there's a lot of shared help on hand if it's needed; one Norwegian boat has specialist welding gear aboard so he was helping a German catamaran repair a cracked boom yesterday .
We plan to stay here one more day before heading to the Tuamotus Archipelago which consists of dozens of coral atolls (the most famous, for all the wrong reasons, is Muraroa Atoll where the French did their atom bomb tests - we won't be going there!). Only a few are inhabited and the navigation between the atolls is challenging so we're slightly apprehensive about it - it's a 4 day sail from here – but a few boats have just arrived there so we'll hear of their experiences on the radio net.