Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Episode 16 - Kosrae in Mirconesia


LORELEI'S SAILING ADVENTURES
Episode 16

KOSRAE.
The Federated States of Micronesia.


Welcome to Episode 16 of the Hog Blog.

At the end of Episode 15 we had just returned to Majuro after 4 weeks exploring the outer atolls of The Marshall Islands.

Clearing out and sailing - Majuro to Kosrae.

Our last few days at Majuro were full bore with lots to do.
First we provisioned Lorelei with 5 months of long term stores and took her into the small fuel dock for Diesel and Gasoline. The word must have got out that there was a big boat on the dock because we had hoards of people come for a look including a bunch of policemen.
We managed to find an engineering shop and get our repairs done.
It was very social and many of the other yachties wanted to come and say goodbye.
Clearing out on Friday became a trying task as both the Immigration Officials and Harbour Master were both not in their offices and we were refused entry into the Customs Building as we did not have trousers and a collared shirt! Some big wig was visiting and they upheld this draconian law for the one day that he was there.

After completing formalities on Friday we went back into town on Friday night to have a quiet meal at one of the Chinese restaurants.
Well that didn’t happen!
As we walked in there were friends Gary and Simone (who were our hosts on Australia Day) with kids Bailey and Blake and their friends Doug and Charlotte so we pulled up 2 chairs and had a great meal with them.

Saturday morning we finally sailed out with Ben and Wendy on Just Magic leaving at 8:30am for the 500nm run to Kosrae.

For 2.5 days we sailed with the squarer spinnaker up as the wind was light and blowing directly downwind to where we had to go. We found we had to sail at 135 degrees wind angle to keep some wind in the sails and gybed about every 12 hours as we zig zaged towards Kosrae.


Sailing along happily – for the first half….

At 4am on the second night the spinnaker collapsed and wine-glassed itself around the furled headsail making a hell of a tangle and it was impossible to lower it or pull the sock over it so we had no option but to undo the tack and clew and try to man handle it around the headsail.
It took nearly an hour to fix. Lisa got whipped with the 16mm tack sheet making a perfect tick shape welt on her back.


From there it all went downhill and Ben described the second half of the trip perfectly in one word – ARDUOUS!
The wind dropped out in the arvo on day 3 and then turned 180 degrees and smacked us with a 25 knot SW’er which was right on the nose. That arvo we were pounded with super heavy rain - over 178mm in just 4 hours. Everything was soaked!
Over the next 2.5 days we had not one hour of constant wind direction or strength and at one stage the wind did a slow full 360 over the space of 6 hours. Our track on the chart plotter was all over the place.
Finally at dawn on day 5 we sailed to within 5nm of Kosrae. We really wanted to see it with the sun up and get some photos so we shut everything down and wallowed for about 90 minutes until we had enough light to see and take photos before motoring the last 45 minutes in.
We had sailed just over 650nm in 2 hours short of 5 days arriving on Thursday 21st March.
The disappointing thing was that this was meant to be one of the most enjoyable and easy sails of the trip and by doing it, we have given up our valuable easterly position making it increasingly harder to get back to the Solomons the more west we go.
It is seriously making us reconsider about going further west to Pohnpei.

A very tired Paul at daybreak on day 5

Lisa navigating Lorelei into Kosrae’s main harbour of Le-Lu.
The electronic charts were out by about ½ a mile!
Thank goodness for Google Earth overlays – satellite photos don’t lie…

Kosrae from 5nm out. Very reminiscent of Lord Howe Island

Just Magic had arrived the evening before and Roland the quarantine officer was on the dock waiting for both of us when we got there at 8:30am.
We had the customs and immigration officials soon after and both boats were cleared in by lunch – hooray!
We were yacht numbers 4 and 5 to visit the Island this cruising season and with only 1 month to go we will most certainly be the last.

Kosrae.

Kosrae is a triangular shaped island around 5nm long and wide with most of the island covered in lush tropical forest. Its highest peak is Mt Finkol at over 620m high. It has a long, chequered history with ruins on the island dating back to the early 1300’s. It has gone through occupation by Germany, Japan, USA and survived the pirates and whaling era’s, black birding, missionaries, western disease and the natural elements.
It is now one of the 4 states of The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).
It is the only state that has only one island or atoll.
The other 3 states are Yap, Pohnpei (where we might visit next ?) and Chuuk (also known as Truk Lagoon where we visited and dived in 2011).
Amazingly all 4 states speak their own language but fortunately for us the official language is English.
The local people are poor but very friendly and are very religious.
Kosrae and Pohnpei’s huge annual rainfall total makes them two of the wettest places on earth.
There are only 3 small harbours for us to anchor Lorelei; Le Lu on the East, Utwe in the south and Okat on the NW side near the airport.



The next day after a good sleep the 4 of us hiked into the main town, Toful to have a look around and visit the small museum. On the way we stopped by Matt Simpson’s place. Matt (or Junior as he is called as there are so many Matt’s on the Island) is an ex-pat who has lived on Kosrae for over 5 years. We met him in Majuro through a mutual friend Provan and looked him up when we got here.
We are so glad we did as we went to his place and he gave us the full run down on the island. He then took us to the museum and a lookout in the mountains. His priorities are in order – Surfing, Spearing, Diving and Hiking - then work, so we were in for a good time.

The view across the causeway linking Le Lu Island with the Mainland

No gas pumps here – fill up from plastics containers.
The more you buy, the cheaper it gets!

Just some of the museum displays

Le Lu Harbour

We spent the first 2 weeks anchored in Le Lu harbour. It was a convenient location to have Lorelei as Junior lived close by making it easy for him to pick us up in the car. It also meant we now had a small boat in each of the 3 harbours as another ex-pat, Matt Senior had his long boat in Okat, Junior had his in Utwe and we had our RIB in Le Lu. The bakery, hardware and super market were also across the street.

Lorelei anchored in Le Lu Harbour and behind is one of Kosrae’s most famous landmarks – “The Sleeping Lady”

Surfing NW Kosrae.

When we were at Junior’s place he was talking about the dozen or so surf breaks around the island.
On our first full day there he took Ben and Paul surfing with Matt Senior who owns the Island’s only surf charter company.
They went over to the western side to Okat where Matt’s boat was, loaded up the boards and off they went.
They were motoring past the amazing outer reef with the wind offshore, the water crystal clear and in the background were these towering mountains of lush green forest. The boys had grins from ear to ear.
The surf was pumping with a fast peeling right over coral that was glassy and barreling its head off.
Paul and Ben were a little intimidated at first but after about 20 minutes they were into it. Poor Ben was the only goofy footer and had the disadvantage of being on his backhand.
At the 2 hour mark Matt snapped his board (his 10th for the season) and went to the boat and came back out with this old retro single fin and proceeded to get the most insane tube rides on it. Junior was trying to pull 360’s in the critical part of the wave. They certainly knew how to rip.

Paul got some amazing barrels and some wicked high speed turns in further down the line.
Paul, Matt and Junior surfed till long after sunset until we could only just see the moored boat.
Unfortunately, not knowing what to expect, Paul did not to take any cameras. Oh well next time….

After leaving the surf break they stopped at the fish co-op as there was fresh Yellowfin Tuna caught that day selling for $1.25 a lb (about $2.70 a kilo!) You just had to buy it at those prices and that night we feasted on fresh Sashimi and Sushi onboard Lorelei.


Kayaking around Le Lu.

One of the highlights around Kosrae is the amazing Kayaking and flat water stand up paddle boarding.
The combination of dense mangrove forests, fringing coral reefs, towering hills and blue holes make this the ideal place to explore this way.
While the boys went surfing, Lisa and Wendy launched their kayaks and paddled up Le Lu Harbour and into the extensive mangrove system.
The scenery was stunning and the waterway was immense with a large number of tributaries you can take and explore. There were a lot of palm trees growing out of the water which was unusual and many old large trees with huge ferns and climbing vines attached.
They spent over 5 hours exploring and paddled over 8nm returning pretty well worn out.




A few days later Lisa took Paul up there one avro and explored a few more different sections (nearly getting lost in one….).



We dropped into Bully’s on the way home for a refreshing soda.

Spearfishing Hiroshi Point

Junior along with Sebastian (an ex pat teacher on the island and Junior’s dive buddy) are mad keen spearos and try to spear whenever the surf is not pumping.
It was awesome to have them take us to the best spots and explain the ideal tides and times to us.
Our first spot was called Hiroshi Point. This could be done by boat or simply pulling up in the car and walking in over the rocks.


The coral wall sloped down straight from the shore and less than 100m from the shore you are floating in the abyss in over 500m of water. It’s a little strange walking in from the shore rigged up for blue water hunting.
Hiroshi Point had the most incredible viz in excess of 60m and some stunning hard corals that covered the entire sloping wall. 
We didn't see much pelagic action but the boys did come back with a feed of a few parrot fish, Mangrove Jacks and some Surgeon Fish for the locals as they love them.

Walung Wall

A few days later we tried again but this time we loaded up Juniors’ boat down at Utwe Harbour and made the 20 minute run to the SW tip to Walung Wall.

Utwe Harbour

These ladies are cleaning the harvested Sea Cucumber’s at Utwe

Sebastian on lookout leaving the harbour

Again the viz was stunning with amazing coral dropping down into the abyss. This time we sat a little deeper so we could just see the reef edge and hoped that some bigger pelagic species like Yellowfin or Wahoo would come into the flashers. All we managed to get was some large schools of Rainbow Runners so we took a few of them each and turned them into yummy fish cakes.


After spearing, Junior took us for a boat ride through the mangroves as the high tide water depth was just enough for the boat and the viz was great. We found a small resort style set-up that was abandoned and going to ruin.







Tafunsak Gorge

When there was no swell or spearing and the tide was wrong for diving and kiting we did a series of land based activities with the highlights being the walks to the waterfalls, gorges and exploring the ruins.
The first one we did was the hike up Tafunsak Gorge.
The locals are all very religious and Sunday for them is a strict day of rest with no sports or water activities permitted. Hiking and walks are OK.
So while they were all in church on our first Sunday there, we piled into Junior’s van and head up into the hills to do the walk.
At first we had to walk for about 1 klm on top of a water pipe that ran down from the mountain.



Once we reached the small dam we had to hike up a thin gorge with high rock walls that was amazing. The water was up to chest deep in some places and we had to wade through with our cameras and backpacks carried over our heads.




The twin waterfalls at the top were very high and we had a refreshing swim in the pools before returning the same way we came up.


When we got back we were all hungry so we dropped into Bully’s restaurant which has a great location on the waters edge at Tree Lodge Resort.
Mark and Maria the owners are great people and were really helpful during our time at Kosrae.


Yekula Waterfall

3 days later we went to a second waterfall. Unlike the first, this one was only a short walk from the main road.
On the way Junior showed us a massive tree that was the biggest we have ever seen. It was not overly high but had a huge base and trunk system.
We struggled to get it in one photo and in the end Paul had to take a series and stitch them together in photoshop – and we still could not get it all!


The waterfall was tall and whilst it was OK the highlight was the tree beside it. It was a fig style tree with a huge vine system running over 100m vertically up the rock face beside the waterfall. It was very strong so we were able to climb up it.





Towards the top we had to slip inside the tree and climb up the centre section and exit out a hole in the middle. It was pretty amazing.

It was very picturesque at the top

We returned to the bottom via the other side of the waterfall and had to use a series of 3 ropes to lower ourselves back down.


The Famous Le Lu Ruins

Just 100m from were Lorelei was anchored is Le Lu Island and on it are some of the oldest ruins in Kosrae which date back to before the 1400’s.
At one time this ancient city covered the entire island with its feudal system that was very similar in structure to the castles in England.
Today most of the outer lying structures are gone but what’s left is the entire centre section which still encompasses a massive area and over half the island.
Being in such a lush tropical environment, most of it is now overgrown.
These are the oldest ruins we have ever visited so we were pretty excited.



The pic on the left is a pounding stone used to prepare food or seka (kava)




Scuba Diving Le Lu Harbour

Diving in Kosrae is the easiest location we have found thanks to their mooring buoy program which is rated the best in the pacific.
The 3 dive shops along with grants and volunteers have set up 50 mooring buoys around Kosrae for people to freely use to dive, snorkel, fish, spear and surf. No one carries an anchor in their boats here!
The moorings also mark the spots of the wrecks in the harbour.





We won’t say it was the clearest viz we have ever had but scuba diving in Le Lu Harbour was certainly an experience.
We had 2 moorings quite close to Lorelei so we dived both of those first.
We took Junior and Sebastian for both dives which was a first for them too at those sites.
  

The viz was about 5m at best and green. We had no idea what we were diving on so we just rolled over the side and hoped for the best.
The first wreck was a Japanese ship – The Sansun Maru” which was a WW2 mine layer that was sunk when it was skip bombed by the US.
It is lying intact and upright in 18m of water and had loads of sea whips growing up along each hull and unexploded mines all over the place.
When we first dropped onto the wreck we were confronted by scores of large Mangrove Jack. They were buzzing all around us for about a minute before they took off. Paul just couldn’t get the camera settings right in time to get a photo of them.




The second dive we were buzzing at. Again we dropped over having no idea what we would find but though it might be a plane.
Well it certainly was a plane – it was a huge US PBM Flying boat that was set up for bombing raids. It was completely intact but the bomb holds were empty. The twin tail section was massive and we were all buzzing with excitement. The only downside was that it was so big it was difficult to take photos of it with the limited viz – even with a wide angle lens!

One of the machine gun turrets on the fuselage

Seb on the wing with the control cables for the foils

One of the massive but empty bomb bays with the bomb doors open

One of the tail fins (there are 2) and the door leading to the cockpit


The Easter Bunnies

We had Easter at Kosrae and just had to get into the Easter Spirit.
In true Easter fashion the weather was pretty ordinary on the Friday and Saturday so Lisa and Wendy broke out our chocolate bunny mould and made some Easter Bunnies. When we were shopping in Majuro we found Nestle chocolate melting buds and not just the Aussie standard Milk, Dark and White ones, we also found Butterscotch and Peanut Butter! 
(yeah typical American we know but if they were anything like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Paul’s new fave’s) then we had to have them …)
Wendy also mixed some food colouring with the white chocolate to make the coloured ears, eyes and bunny tails.
They turned out a treat. Literally!!


Sunday morning we went to Just Magic and took the bunnies and pigged out on Wendy’s home made Hot Cross Buns & Passionfruit Cheesecake as well as The Bunnies.       Oink Oink….


Le Lu Hill Walk and Japanese Tunnels

Whilst the Japanese occupied Kosrae during the war, the intention wasn’t for advancement into the Pacific. Rather the Japanese took Kosrae purely so they could grow fruit and vegetables on the fertile land so as to supply food for the soldiers and workers at other strategic locations further East.
The Japanese did have to offer some defense to the island and the hill on Le Lu island was fortified with scores of underground tunnels linking various locations and a few gun emplacements guarding the harbour entrance.
On Easter Sunday while church was in, we hiked up the trail.
We did however stop to listen to the wonderful singing coming from the church. The Kosreans are known for their beautiful voices and 4 part harmonies. Men and Women sit separately on either side.

The view from the top of the hill gave us a great view of The Blue Hole,
The Causeway and Le Lu Harbour.

The Blue Hole in the reef

Once at the summit we found a pill box style bunker and after a bit of bush bashing and searching we found the entrance of our first tunnel.


The first tunnel went for a long way in and after about 150m we turned around. When we found a second tunnel further around the hill we explored it and found it had a stack of intersections and bisecting passageways. We took one that had strong air flow through it and eventually came back out at the first entry.


There’s nothing like trying some photographic special effects in pitch blackness and underground.

After we left the tunnels we did a loop around the island close to the waters edge looking for some reported caves and other WW2 relics.


We passed this house just as the owner was washing and feeding his pigs.
They were so excited, squealing and jumping up on their hind legs.

Finally we found it - the hidden cave on the point guarding the harbour entrance. It had a large gun base still in the cave entrance.

Surfing Utwe and The Float Parade.

At Kosrae the Tuesday after Easter is also a public holiday making it a five day break instead of the normal four back at home.

We made the best of it by going surfing with Junior early in the morning to a south facing left hander in Utwe Harbour. It was small but very clean and we were able to surf it on mals and Junior took his SUP.
Two of the local kids also paddled out with us on their square pieces of polystyrene foam which they surf on.

Junior on his SUP paddling out of the small river mouth

On the holiday Tuesday the locals celebrate with a parade and they dress up a series of trucks as floats depicting anything from local culture and traditions to climate change and technologies. The floats start in their local municipality (there are 4 on the island) and converge at the main high school in the capital Toful.
We stopped on the way home from the surf to have a look at one municipality’s series of floats getting set up.







Note the mud crabs and crayfish tied around the base of the truck




Every Tuesday night is movie night at Bully’s Restaurant.
They serve $10 pizzas with garlic bread and drop a large white canvas screen down and shine the projector onto it.
The kid’s animated movie is first followed by a new release for the adults.
It’s a great night out and most of the ex-pats rock up for a social evening.
If the tides are right we can take our RIB right to the restaurant.

Getting there early in between the rain squalls.

Kitesurfing Le Lu Harbour

Well let’s just say kiting Kosrae was nothing like the world class kiting we experienced in Maleolap Atoll in The Marshalls.
We tried twice to kite but the only launching beach in Le Lu Harbour had overhead trees and twice we had kites wrapped in the trees.
There are wind holes in the harbour from the high hills and Paul went straight into one with the kite coming to a stop and falling out of the sky. The lines tangled on the way down causing a big mess and he needed a boat pick up followed by another 90 minutes of sitting onshore and untangling the lines.
Not fun! In the end we gave up.
A law has been passed and kiteboarding is now illegal on Sunday’s and is a jailable offense after a boat load of disrespectful kite pros rocked up for a movie (Big Windy) and photo shoot in 2011 and proceeded to kite right out the front of the main church on a Sunday morning even when warned and asked not to beforehand.
The locals were, and are still, not impressed!


Scuba Diving Le Lu Harbour Part 2

When we were talking to the dive operators about our dive on the PBM US Plane in the Harbour, one of them said that there was a second one that crashed and is a much more interesting dive.
Well that was it – we just had to find out about its history, locate it (as it didn’t have a buoy on it) and to dive on it.
Sadly it had a terrible ending. At the end of the war when the Japanese surrendered, the US sent the plane with a load of officials to accept the Japanese Commander’s surrender on Kosrae. All went well but when the party went to leave the plane crashed on take off killing all onboard.
It was reported that many boats went to the stricken plane’s assistance but when the full fuel tanks ruptured, the fuel spread over the water and ignited engulfing the plane and many of the boats too.

With the help of Junior, we managed to get hold of some side scan sonar images confirming the position of the second plane in the harbour.



After some searching with the sounder we found it and took junior with us on our early morning dive on the rising tide. It was in silty mud and just like the other plane, in green water with less than 5m viz.



The crumpled nose section and cockpit

The pilots foot pedals

Clam Farm and Resorts

One day we took time out and decided to walk up to the clam farm and the 2 resorts to have a look around.
The farm had many shallow concrete ponds with small clams all separated in colours but what they also did was collect tropical fish for the aquarium market. Whilst it was amazing to see, it was sad to see so many fish being taken daily from such a small location and being exported. Surely it could not be sustainable? In particular was the large amount of Flame Angelfish they had in tanks which are rare and endemic to this region. We snapped a few photos before the manager asked us not to take any more….




We stopped in to have a look at Nautilus Resort and have a great chat with Doug the owner who is an Aussie.


Scuba Diving Hiroshi Point

Junior and Seb wanted to spear Hiroshi Point again but instead we decided to do a scuba dive while they went for a spear. Paul took his camera and got some photos of the hard corals and also of the boys spearing.





After much trying this is the only half decent shot that Paul has of a Flame Angelfish (its down the bottom…)





Taken from 20m depth…… not bad viz!!


Sailing from Le Lu Harbour around to Okat.

After 2 weeks in Le Lu we finally got a break in the wind and seas to have a decent run around the top of the island and into Okat Harbour on the NW side. Being the weekend, it also allowed us to bring Seb and Junior along for the ride.
We sailed out at 9am and headed north for about 10nm before gybing and sailing back down to Okat. We trolled the whole way and only got one hit but no hook up.
We did however have a pod of dolphins that played in our bow waves for at least 30 minutes.
We had 4 seasons in one 4 hour sail – rain, wind, glass out, squalls, sun, etc… Pretty typical of this place really.

Lisa and Seb having fun and working hard on the winches


Seb and some of the dolphins

Okat has 3 huge moorings for longliners that are never used so we took one of those and spent the arvo, drinking, eating and swimming.


One of the only times with no wind….

When Ben took Junior and Seb back to the small dock, he walked across the road to the co-op and brought a small fresh Yellowfin Tuna which we turned into sashimi. We managed to devour more than half of it (and lots more drinks) by 10pm that night.


Kayaking Okat’s River System and Mangroves

The next day we took the kayaks up into the extensive mangrove system of the Wukaf River. We also loaded up the crab pots with the Yellowfin carcass and set them in the mangroves.


At first we took the left arm which was a small tributary that went up a long way. We went as far as we could go. The large amount of fresh water from the rain created a strong water flow and small rapids in some spots making it fun to try and get up.




The trip back down was really fast and if you didn’t get your line right you ended up on the bank, in the tree roots or smashing into each other (of which we all did all three – more than once…)


The right arm was a lot different with just a large maze of trees and roots.
There wasn’t really a defined path so we just paddled anywhere we wanted as long as we had the water depth. During our time in there it poured with rain – again!!!




In the arvo the forecasted swell started to build so Paul and Junior went in search of waves – and scored…!!

On day 3 at Okat we said goodbye to Ben and Wendy as they cleared out and left for Pohnpei. Even though Kosrae and Pohnpei are both part of FSM, you must still clear in and out at each place with Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and the Harbour Master. The upside is it’s another 2 stamps in the passport each time.


Surfing

We surfed solidly for 3 days. It was a surf fest with great waves both in the morning and the arvo’s. Seb and Junior joined Paul for the first arvo surf while Lisa took some photos as the rain decided to stay away for a change. It was only the second time Seb had ever surfed – nothing like being thrown into the deep end – or in this case, the shallow coral reef!

Not so big but super clean and offshore
  

The one challenge is missing the coral bommie that sticks out right in the middle of the line-up






One of the barrels Paul didn’t make it through….

In between surfs on the low tide we checked the crab pots and found we had caught 2 big and angry muddies in one of the traps (the one that Lisa put in – and none in the other – that Paul put in…..typical???!!!)



Chili Mud Crab – Yum!!

For the rest of the week the weather was pretty ordinary with strong winds and a lot of rain. We did have limited pockets of sun where we could get out and do things.
We did manage a spear at shark island where we had better pelagic action, big sharks and dog tooth tuna.
We also did a long walk to explore the western side of the island.

Okat Boat harbour on a less rainy day

Our view from Lorelei on a nice day

Doug from Nautilus Resort and Dive, his son Cameron and Cam’s teacher Kevin came out to visit on Friday evening to enjoy the sunset and have a few drinks.


While at Okat we did one last Kayak which turned into a huge expedition that lasted the whole day.
We left Lorelei in the early morning on the rising tide to explore a small island in the harbour. It had a few Japanese war relics that were there to guard the harbour entrance.  


As the tide rose we were able to work our way up a mangrove system that went inland. We found the system really healthy with loads of coral, fish (particularly lots of small mangrove jacks) and 4 species of moray eel.

There were loads of these eels in only 20-40cm of water

For 4 hours we paddled until we got to a bridge and road and we were not able to go much beyond that.
We managed to haul the kayaks up the step embankment, walk 500m down the road to drop the kayaks back in at the Okat Boat Harbour and use the run out tide to have a fast run down the main channel to return to Lorelei. We were gone for over 7 hours!

End of the mangroves

Hauling the kayaks up the bank onto the road

The 500m walk finished at the Okat Boat harbour



Diving & Spearing The North West Coast

At the start of week 4 the weather started to improve and we had sunny periods and not much wind for 4 days.

On the Sunday arvo Doug and Cameron came out to Lorelei again and we went for a snorkel to have a look at conditions and the viz.
That evening we went to their house at Nautilus and had a fantastic meal and great fruit smoothies.
The next day we loaded up the Nautilus Dive Boat and went for 2 drift dives on the NW side of the Island. Salik (Doug’s local DM) drove the boat while Doug, Kevin and the 2 of us dived.



Not bad viz – this shot was taken at 26m…

This was Kevin’s 5th dive, his first drift dive and first photos of him diving.





On the Tuesday and Wednesday we speared with Junior and Seb.
Rather than spearing the reef we decided on one last ditch effort to get a large Kosraen pelagic. We loaded up the bluewater guns with multiple floats and headed into the blue loaded with flashers and a lot of burley. It was Junior and Seb’s first experience with this type of bluewater hunting and they had a ball and learnt a lot.
The first day we saw Dog Tooth Tuna down real deep (24m+) but could not get them to come shallower. Seb shot his biggest ever fish – a Barracuda. Whilst we don’t eat them, the locals here love them and Sebs host family was stoked.


On day 2 we headed back out but this time conditions were perfect and with Seb & Junior knowing a bit more of what to expect.
We had a light offshore current, no wind and only a tiny bit of swell.
Paul handled the burley and flasher set up and kept a big fish lookout while the other 3 sat in the burly trail, guns loaded and ready.
We were only 10 minutes into the session when a Wahoo turned up with Seb being the closest to it. He landed a great body shot and 10 minutes later after much coaxing from the other 3 of us in the peanut gallery, he had boated his first ever Wahoo. To say he was happy was an understatement!!!
The fish was shot with one of Paul's guns - a Green Camo Omer 130.
 It was nicknamed "Greg's Green Kingfish Killer" after a friend Greg H shot a big Kingy with it in Brisbane but now it's been renamed 
"Seb's Wahoo Whacker"! 
Sorry Greg - maybe you'll have to visit and top this to rename it again???



40 minutes later Junior dives on a Jobfish and returns to the surface having shot a Dog Tooth Tuna. It was his first and we had another spearo with a grin from ear to ear.


Just as the sun was setting we were floating off the back of the boat in glassy seas and deep blue water with over 50m viz, with the sun illuminating the amazing mountains in the background with 2 big fish in the boat . It was an absolutely awesome way to spend our last afternoon in Kosrae and a truly magical moment with the 4 of us just beaming.

Lisa’s Fish – In Australia it’s just another Red Bass that are so common but inedible due to the cigutera toxin risk.
Over here they are Red Snapper and are great eating. They are a prized fish with one that size in Kosrae being a trophy fish….


So that’s the wrap-up from our time at Kosrae in Micronesia!!

Kosrae has certainly been an interesting place!
The upside were so many things to do, the smiling happy people and the fantastic mountainous landscape which has been such a welcome change after months of atolls not more that 2m above sea level.
The downside was the relentless rain, wind squalls and marginal weather which towards the end was getting us down. It made us reluctant to take the good camera gear with us each time we ventured out.
We felt we didn’t really make the best of the photo opportunities.
The lack of sun also meant the solar panels weren't working and we chased power on Lorelei the entire time we were there.
Junior has an appropriate phrase –
“Kosrae has a wet season and a wetter season”

Overall it has been a lot of fun and a huge thank you goes out to Junior for his hospitality and time showing us loads of things around the island both in and out of the water. His knowledge and experience was the difference between this being a good time to a fantastic experience.
A big thanks also goes out to Doug at Nautilus for his hospitality, fantastic diving and the best fruit smoothies we have ever had! 
Thanks to Seb our spearing buddy who has become a very good friend.
To Glennis, Matt Snr & Meagan, Mark & Maria at Tree Lodge, Kevin, Cameron, Diana and all the other people we met that were so welcoming – many thanks!!

WE WILL BE BACK…….


Future Plans

Our plans have changed a little.
After giving it a lot of thought we have decided to give Pohnpei a miss for this season.
Research shows that April and May are Pohnpei’s wettest months.
It rains daily and we are just not into that. Additionally the surf season is over as we are running late in the season.
There is also the wind angle issue for sailing back to the Solomon’s we wrote about at the start of this blog.
We have been running late in the cruising seasons for nearly a year now and have found it difficult to catch up as we didn’t want to miss anything so now we have decided to head south over the equator to the Solomon Islands and be there at the start of the cruising season.
If all goes to plan we will be in the Solomons for a full 6 months and by being there early in the season, it hopefully means we get some surf.

We will be clearing out of Kosrae on Thursday the 18th April for the 1000nm run to the Western Provence in the Solomons.
Crossing the equator and the doldrums is always a challenge but the forecast looks reasonable so we are hoping the run will take 6 - 9 days.

Our next blog should be posted from Gizo in the Solomon Island’s Western Province in about 4-6 weeks time.

Bye for now….
Paul and Lisa Hogger – Team Lorelei.

PS.
If you think uploading this blog is an easy task – think again.
Internet is very limited in these pacific countries and so slow!!!

Paul sitting on Junior’s balcony plugged into the mains power inside thru a power converter and extension lead with the Wifi aerial in the pot plants so we could tap into the nearby Wifi……. the things you do.....


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