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FSM: Kosrae re-visited 14 years later

By Caramel & Claude on SY Koukouri — last modified Oct 30, 2017 08:58 PM

Published: 2017-09-25 00:00:00
Countries: Federated States of Micronesia

14 years ago

I had sailed into Kosrae Harbour 14 years ago and found the island delightful.

It is relatively high: 1800 feet - especially when one sails from Kiribati or Tuvalu - with sharp peaks, dark valleys, huge trees everywhere. The main harbour, Lelu, is well protected, and one can anchor 200 yards away from an ACE hardware and a well stocked supermarket, in 30 feet. As I had dinghied ashore for the first time, a man came out of a house, and told me I could tie my dinghy to his dock, then he lobbed a mandarine to me as a welcome gift. He was Mr Sigrah, the manager of the Ace Hardware.

I had come for a few days, and stayed 3 weeks.

FSM_Kosrae_InteriorThe inhabitants were friendly, smiling, and their hospitality equal to the best I had experienced in the Pacific. The hikes were first class. Waterfalls, relics of 2nd World War, exotic plants, reefs, wrecks to dive, deserted beaches. It seemed like this island had everything. It was even difficult to hike alongside the road, as the Kosraens would stop and invite me to climb in their car whenever they saw me walk.

I left finally because I had to, and very often regretted not having spent more time.

Today

Nearly 15 years later, I was planning another cruise in the area and went on noonsite to check the latest information about the island.

I was extremely surprised to find a couple of articles which were pretty negative and found out it had been triggered by exaggerated fees charged to a few yachties. The decision to jack up the prices was apparently taken by one person, and one who obviously had no knowledge of the cruising world.

The fees had been lowered since, and the man responsible for the exorbitant fees had left, but I could not find very recen information.

We decided, my friend and I, to give it a try anyway, and sailed in coming from Tarawa.

Not much had changed and the harbour was what it used to be. We were surprised to find out we were the only boat, but for a 31 footer belonging to Mark, an American resort owner-operator. The clearing in was done at the main dock. It was fast, efficient, done by competent smiling officials. We were boarded by a quarantine officer who advised us to keep our few veggies and fruits in the fridge.

Mister Sigrah is no more, but his son Smith is now the manager of ACE hardware and he was there to welcome us at his pier. I had already exchanged a few emails with him and he had been very helpful in facilitating my acquiring the cruising permit one is supposed to secure via internet before arriving.

We now have been 1 week on Kosrae. The island is even more beautiful than I remembered, the Kosreans friendlier. Maria and Mark who own and manage the Tree Lodge resort are friendly and helpful and their resort blends into a mangrove forest, where one can have meals at the water's edge.

So, why are we the only yacht in the harbour - 14 years ago we were 7?

Probably because of the bad articles concerning the exaggerated fees. I find it very sad and unjust to imagine yachts sailing within sight of this island and giving it a miss. It is unfair also for the inhabitants, who are very proud of their island, their hospitality, their way of life, and would love to see yachts again anchored in their harbours.

Smith Sigrah is definitely the man to contact if you are interested in anchoring in Kosrae. He is also very curious about what could make Kosrae a perfect stop on somebody's cruise and welcomes any input the sailing community may have. His email address is: kosraeace@mail.fm

Come to Kosrae and have a nice stay - I guarantee you will!

Caramel & Claude
SY Koukouri

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