Even though we are technically quarantined, we can still move our boat away from the mainland of Mangareva to a more secluded island (start of the Covid-19 craziness and quarantine). At this point, being away from other people is preferred. So, Matt and I decided to go to Aukena island which is also known as Bernard’s island. Bernard owns a house just below the saddle of the two mountains and is “particular” about who can anchor near his house. Basically, everyone stays at least 100-meters away from his view.
It is a short 4nm motor from Mangareva to Aukena. We had absolutely no wind, flat seas, and bright sunshine. Perfect day to move anchorages. We danced around the hundreds of pearl farm floats and weaved around the larger coral heads before we arrived at our pristine spot.
The water was a brilliant dark blue and slowly turned to turquoise as we entered the shallower waters. We dropped the hook in 3 meters of water and called it good! The top photo is Sugar Shack heading to the anchorage. The second photo shows the little lighthouse on the peninsula of Aukena and the bottom photo is the very small town.
The Boat Invasion
The next day the officials allowed cruisers to move to a safer anchorage as bad weather was supposed to come. Eight other boats came over to our quiet little anchorage to wait out the storm. We had some crazy gusts up to 28kts and came from many different directions, but not much rain. We circled our anchor and made some funny squiggles on the chart.
Now that is a crazy anchor pattern
Two days later all of the boats left and went back to Rikitea. Yeah, we have the place back to ourselves and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.
Where is the wind?
Sugar Shack enjoying a quiet moment before the other cruisers arrived.
On the southeast corner of the Gambiers lies two motus: Tarauru Roa and Gaioio. The wind shifted and we decided to move to the more protected anchorage of Tarauru Roa. We had never anchored in this area before and had to dodge many pearl floats on the way from Ile de Akamaru. Once we arrived, we determined that we needed to float our chain to avoid getting tangled with the bommies. Always a fun chore to add floats to the chain every 7 meters while setting the anchor. We finally set the anchor after a few failed attempts.
A very stunning sunset behind Taravai. Looks like the orange was just painted into the sky.
Beautiful Orange Sunset at the False Pass
The False Pass
To the north of us is a “false pass” where there is a gap between the Tarauru Roa motu and Totegegie but the reef still creates a barrier between the lagoon and the sea. Our friends on Leela told us it was great snorkeling there so met them for an adventure. We drove the dinghy as far up the gap that we could without getting stuck during a change in tides. We then had to swim against the current to the “pit” where we encountered lots of black tip and white tip sharks. They have been trained to follow humans as they dive below the surface. The sharks think we are all spear fishing and they want the easy pickins.
A few new friends
We found lots of fun sea life in the coral and on the sea wall. Most wouldn’t sit for a photo session, but I was able to capture a few.
Snorkeling with some fishies
My little fish just loves hanging out near the bottom.
Snorkeling with some fishie
The coral was just starting to grow and come back to life. It was beautiful to see the brains, tables, staghorns and more thrive in this false pass.
Lots of cool coral
Walk Around the Block – Tarauru Roa
Walk Around the Block
Our blocks are considerably different than yours. Just south of Tarauru Roa is the small motu Gaioio. Matt expertly weaved our dinghy in and out of the coral reef to get to Gaioio. Along the way, we found this boobie hanging out on its own thrown.
Now that is a throne!
We wanted to walk around the motu along the coral shore. It was lovely, but a little challenging walking on the debris.
The center of the motu is covered in greenery. You can certainly tell the windward side (short bushes) from the leeward side (tall trees).
Windward vs Leeward side of the island
The view was considerably better as we got back around to where we left the dinghy. Back on sand. Can you see sweetie in the lower photo?
Finding our way back to Sweetie in Tarauru Roa
On the uninhabited motus you come across a lot of trash. Primarily from the windward side (brought in from the sea). With nobody living here to clean up it is worrisome to see. At some point, someone made a plastic pile to burn and someone cleaned out a bunch of oyster shells.
Gross and Sad!
Another pretty sunset. It looks like the island of Mangareva is on fire, but in reality, the sun set just as a storm passed by and it provided this awesome photo.
Managreva on fire
Tarauru Roa proved to be a peaceful and quiet motu that calmed our souls. With so much drama going around the world (covid19) it was nice to be completely disconnected.
We decided it was time to move on after being in Rikitea, the main anchorage in Mangareva, for a week. The winds directed our destination and we headed to a new island (to us) called Ile de Akamaru. It is a short motor of 4.4nm from Rikitea to Akamaru with the wind directly on our nose.
We had to play dodge ball around the pearl farm floats. It would be helpful if they would be white or a bright color, but we came across a lot of black ones which are hard to see in the sea. In this photo I pointed out 3 of the 5. Can you see the other 2?
Hidden Floats in the Lagoon
This island has a small pass that is about 1.5 meters deep. Technically, we could enter the pass and go all the way to shore with the big boat as we only draw 1.3 meters. However, the wind was blowing the wrong way and would have caused our boat to drift close to the corals and seriously, that is way too close for us. We ended up finding a beautiful patch of sand in 2 meters of water. Gorgeous!
Akamaru was discovered in 1797 and is relatively small with a surface area of 1.5 km. It is on the southern side of the Gambiers and not often visited by tourist.
A half mile north of Akamaru is a very small, uninhabited island called Ile Mekiro with a lovely cross at the top ridge. Time to explore. We left the dinghy just off the small beach (top photo) and discovered a bazillion broken oyster and conk shells. Must have been a place to shell at one time?
We could not find an actual trail so we picked a spot and started climbing up. About half-way up the hill we ran across a baby goat who was crying for its mama.
Baby Goat Came out to Greet Us
We found the path, once we arrived at the top of the hill. Matt walks ahead toward the cross (upper right) and then we were rewarded with beautiful views of the bay. You can see Sugar Shack just below the cross.
Concrete Cross at the top of the hill
The island must have had a cross facing each direction of the bay, but only one remained standing. Two of the concrete crosses were on the ground. That must have been some strong wind to knock them over.
Damaged Concrete Crosses
More views from the top. The first photo is Taravai (left) and Mangareva (right). The second photo is the house boat that is in the center of the lagoon in Akamaru, Sugar Shack on the 3rd pic and Akamaru is the bottom photo.
Views from the top
We stopped by the house boat and met Remy and his wife. They live part time on the boat and part time in their house on Akamaru. They generously provided us with some tasty bananas! I made some banana muffins as a thank you and when we dropped them off, they gave us two huge papayas. So generous.
At shore, we pulled up at the cement dock and were floored by the stunning road leading from the water to the “village.”
We hung a left which led us to the rather large church. It is amazing that such a huge church is on this island with maybe 10-12 locals. However, at one point in time there were probably a few hundred people farming here.
Church on Akamaru
You could walk up to the bell tower and view the interior of the church.
Inside of Church on Akamaru
We came across 5 houses that looked inhabited, but only ran into one local. The houses that were lived in were lovely and well maintained.
Lived in homes on Akamaru
However, there were many old, abandoned, stone houses along the long, green road. You have to search for them among the trees and bushes, but they are there. Evidently, Akamaru was a bustling town at one time.
The road changes from a gorgeous, green super highway, to a dirt road lined with tall, sweeping trees, and a small path along the river.
Cool path exploring the island
Some Cool Photos of Akamaru
Enormous flowers grow on this lovely island.
Some pretty flowers
We found a little pig farm with 3 piggy’s who were super excited to see us.
Pets or Food?
Near the water is a shady area under a giant tree with a bench. Perfect to pine the day away.
Relaxing spot under a tree in Akamaru
And on the other side of the dock is a beautiful spot to enjoy a nice swing.
Life is good when you are on a swing
A friendly little kitty came out to play with us. So full of love.
My little kitty that followed me around
Sugar Shack at anchor in front of Ile Mekiro
We had an enormous trevali fish hanging out with us at our shallow anchorage. He would attempt to eat anything we put in the water (bananas, banana peels, egg shells, anything). He was about 2 meters long and super thick! We aptly named him Rover.