Monthly Archives: July 2020

Ile Mekiro – The Shallows

We had visited Akamaru a few months ago, prior to the quarantine.  We really enjoyed this little island and had wanted to come back to see if we could get in closer to the shallows on the opposite side of Ile Mekiro. The small Ile Mekiro sits just in front of Akamaru and has no livable space, a teeny tiny beach, and a beautiful white cross at the top of the hill.  Visit this post to learn about our first visit.

The water is incredibly shallow in this area so we had to time our entrance perfectly.  We needed it to be high tide during peak sunshine.  For weeks high tide fell early morning and late night which was not conducive for seeing coral heads threatening to introduce themselves to the bottom of our boat.  On this return trip we had our friends on HooDoo following us – no pressure!

Anchoring in the Shallows

After entering the small channel , we found our way to our previous anchor spot which was 1.4 meters deep.  We eye balled our path and forged ahead in a very slow forward motion.  We passed by three coral heads and made a hard right in a space that barely fit our wide boat.  From there we had to make a best guess at where we could go without touching the sea floor or a coral head.  We successfully made it to the abandoned raft, circled in front of it (avoiding the long line floating off its bow) and on into the inner lagoon near Remy’s house boat. Nothing like a little stress to get your blood pumping. 

The red line marks our approximate track.  The blue “X” is where we anchored last time.  The arrow points to the other side of Ile Mekiro where we anchored.

We ended up dropping the hook in 1.3 meters of sand (we draw about 1.2 meters).  Somewhere in the middle of low tide Matt saw .9 meters under the boat.  Not sure how that happened we did not feel the seabed dance with Sugar Shack

Hiking Ile Mekiro

Ile Mekiro is a small island with a fun hike to the top (following goat trails).  We forged our own path and took some great photos of the bay.  The top photo shows the cross we hiked too and the bottom two are drone shots Matt took of Missy and I resting at the cross.

This drone shot shows all the amazing coral on the northern side of Ile Mekiro making inaccessible.

Missy and I hanging out by the cross as Matt flew the drone

Snorkel on the Westside of Ile Mekiro

While we were at the top of Ile Mekiro we saw a beautiful spot to snorkel.  It looks like a ton of coral which was bound to be beautiful.  We took the dinghy around the island and jumped in.  A black tip and white tip shark hung out with us while we snorkeled.

The coral was incredibly healthy.  I wish I could explain all of the varieties of coral but all I can clearly say is that there were a lot of staghorn and table corals.  The thing that was fascinating was seeing the staghorn grow in between the tables giving a nice depth to the floor.

Hike Along the Ridge

We took HooDoo to the Eastern tip of Akamaru to hike along the ridge.  We had heard that we could collect lemons and pomplemouse by the beach as a bonus.  The arrow in the lower left is the beach where we left the dinghy.  The arrow in the upper right is the rock ledge we hiked to.

We landed the dinghy at a beautiful beach with a small shack.  It had soft sand and lots of trees.  Behind the shack were several fruit trees ripe for the picking. 

It was a moderate hike straight up over rocks on a goat path.

Absolutely beautiful views from the top.  The water is just stunning.

Of course, Matt had to do his jumping stunt near the edge.

And we end the post with a sunset on fire!

Ile Kouaku – The Sandy Spit

We land at Ile Kouaku after scouting out and passing on two other anchorages.  After we left Ile Makaroa we swung by two other small islands to see if we could find another “new to us” anchorage.  Ile Kamaka was the first stop.  This is supposedly the best anchoring spot in the “rocks.”  The rocks are made up of three islands (Ile Makaroa, Ile Kamaka and Ile Manui).  However, by the time we got the floats and anchor up we noticed two other boats heading in that direction.  Drat, people!

We did a drive by and did not feel comfortable squeezing our large catamaran between two monohulls in this small anchoring area.  We will have to return as it looked like a lovely spot to spend a few days.  Next, we passed by Ile Manui and could not see any suitable anchoring areas.  So, we continued onward.  Next, we looked at  is a small island called Ile Kouaku.

Ile Kouaku is located in the far southeast corner of the Gambier archipelago.  It is actually pretty close to one of the three passes that allow cruisers (like us) to enter into the archipelago.  Not many cruisers visit this island because it is so remote and distant from the main island of Mangareva.



Kouaku’s Sandy Spit

Kouaku is a small sandy spit surrounded by a reef inside a reef.  We maneuvered around several bommies and found a lovely sandy spot between two huge coral bommies.  This is a shot of Kouaku that we took from the top of the mountain at Akamaru.

I jumped in the water to check the distance between our boat and the tallest point of the coral heads.  The waves create murky water, however it was still beautiful. The coral right in front of the beautiful island of Kouaku is extremely healthy .

The water is stunning and Kouaku actually has beautiful, soft sand on the beach (as opposed to broken coral and shells).

Exploring Ile Kouaku Onshore

Matt and I took the paddle boards to shore to explore this little island.  Gorgeous, soft sand covers the leeward side (the lagoon side).  It is a rare treat to have sand on the shores as most islands. Broken corals, shells, and rocks cover most motus.  On the windward side there are large rocks which make it super challenging to walk on. 

Ile Kouaku has lots of beautiful birds and has become a bird refuge.  White Terns, Red Foot Boobies and Herald Petrel nest here.  Not sure they were wild about us visiting their home.

This island provided a bounty of beautiful photo opportunities

I went snorkeling with our friends on Pitufa near the south side of the island.  Again, surprised at the healthy coral all around us.

Here are some beautiful rainbow shots that I captured after a squall.  They were too pretty to lump into a collage.

Ile Makaroa – The Rocks

New island, new anchorage in Makaroa.  We left Mangareva and headed to the rocks.  There are three islands that make up this southerly set called the rocks.  All three islands are uninhabited and difficult to anchor near.  Our friend had given us some waypoints (locations to anchor) so we thought we would give it a try.

There is no anchorage near Ile Manui.  Ile Makaroa is supposed to be fine for a “day spot” only.  The water is supposedly deep and does not offer good holding.  But there is good snorkeling here.  The last island is Ile Kamaka which has a nice sandy beach.

The three rock islands

The three rock islands

With the current weather, wind, and swell we decided to try Ile Makaroa first.  We drove around looking for a good spot and found a decent sandy area in 6 meters of water.  We added 4 pearl floats to the chain to prevent it from getting tangled on the coral and sat it out to see how the boat sat.

The top photo is of three islands on our approach.  The bottom two are of Ile Makaroa.

It is a bit rolly from the swell, but we decided to stick it out and go exploring.

We decided to stay one more night despite the rolliness.  It is a pretty spot with super clear water.  It is really amazing to look out your window and see the coral at the bottom of the ocean.

Snorkeling in the Rocks

We went for a snorkel to explore the beautiful coral. It is spectacular to see so many varieties of hard coral thriving here.  Staghorn, tables and more.  We were visited by schools of curious fish, large and small.

There were several schools of parrot fish and a few varieties of other small fish hanging around to check us out.

There were also a lot of jelly fish.  Normally I am completely freaked out by jelly fish.  I swim backwards, sideways and out just to get away from them.  But these are not stinging jelly fish.  Matt showed me by touching the inside and outside.  I did manage to touch one on the outside and I was completely surprised at how hard it was!

No Wind Creates Havoc on Our Floats

A good anchorage is one with at least a little wind.  We want the boat to always face the wind to give us a nice breeze inside the boat, to hold the boat in a safe position and to keep her safe.  However, when there is no wind, we do circles and do what we call the anchor dance.  Not really a big deal when you are all alone in an anchorage, but when there are other boats or coral heads you are trying to avoid it can be dangerous.

Our floats decided that quarantine was over and they gathered in a group.    They should be spread out with 7-8 meters in between each float.  Even though they are technically still doing their job of keeping the chain off the coral heads, they should be further away from each other.  The top photo is a view from the bow of our boat. The other two are from underwater showing you how the floats work.

Anchor floats not doing their job

Anchor floats not doing their job

The bottom photo has them all touching each other – don’t they know about covid-19?  Ugh!