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Crossing from Fiji & exploring New Caledonia [November 7 – November 17, 2004]

 

Sunday, 7 November 2004, from Fiji to New Cal

Wind SE 20 to 30 kn, by 5 pm made 185 miles (in 24 hrs) still 430 miles to go to New Caledonia, Ile des Pins. Nice weather with the occasional squall.

Wind increased in the afternoon, we are sailing fast, big waves. In the evening setting a second reef, it was a good decision as the wind increased even more, the sea was all white, huge waves breaking on our beam and flooding the deck. A dark night, fluorescent white wave caps, beautiful, fluorescent track behind us. We are speeding along, another beautiful and memorable night.

Monday, 8 November 2004

At 8 am approximately half way with 305 miles to go. Clear sky, SE 25 to 35 kn, SOG 7-9 kn, still second reef and gen4. A nice sunny day.

Sauerkraut and sausage for lunch, yummy, this is what James Cook served his crew in order to avoid scurvy, not that crew liked it much, but at least they were one of the few crew not to die or be very sick in those days. Well we like sauerkraut and won’t die from scurvy either.

At 5 pm log shows that we did 196 miles in the last 24 hrs.

Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Log at 5 pm we have made 579nm since start on Sat afternoon and still have good wind, SE 25-30 kn.

Decided to go to the southern part of Ile Des Pins, Kuto as the entrance is easy and well marked – as usual, we are going to enter this port at night, ETA midnight or later.

 

Course changed to 215 degrees, wind quite on the nose, 60 to 70 deg. Sailing with second reef, staysail (since morning) and gen4, good configuration but would not be able to go much higher on the wind.

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Entering Ile Des Pins from the southern side – encountering very strong current in NE direction – on the nose, over 4 knots. Using engine and sails, making 8 to 9 kn and SOG is only 3-4 kn - scary!! Making very slow progress around the southern point.  

At 0:30 am turned W and motoring with 2200 revs towards the Kuto bay. SOG improves, almost the same as speed in water 6-7 kn. At 3 am Wed morning anchored in Kuto bay.

Thursday, 11 November 2004, Kuto - Ile des Pin

Easy day in Kuto bay, tiding up our food lockers – moths and weevils managed to enter a number of our pasta, rice and beans packets. More than 10 packets had to be thrown into the water – afternoon walking along the beach, swimming, preparing for departure the following morning towards Noumea.

Ile des Pins, New Caledonia Ivo about to go for a swim Beautiful Ile des Pins

Friday, 12 November 2004, Kuto to Noumea

Motoring from Kuto bay to Southern tip of NC, Ile Ouen. No wind, clear sky.

Few miles before the island caught a big Spanish Makrel, over 30 kg! Kept me busy for almost an hour before it was closer to the stern and I manage to get him into the dinghy. The fish was approx 160 cm long and while jumping in the dinghy made a big cut in a front compartment so it deflated immediately.

One hour of tiring the fish & Ivo Ivo managed  to get the fish into the dinghy Wow, biggest catch yet!

We were hoping that we would be able to sell the fish in the restaurant/hotel at the southern tip of the Ile Ouen, near the airstrip, but all was closed – probably low season already. Some people told us that we could probably give the fish to a Kanak tribe living nearby but that it was unlikely they would pay for the fish. So we motored to the next bay, Baie Tioae, but no luck there either. Decided to motor all the way to Noumea and try selling the fish to the restaurant in the Baie the Citron. Arrived there at around 9 pm, tried in several restaurants but fish was apparently too big for them or they didn’t know exactly what Spanish Makrel is (we found out next day that in French it is called a Tazard du large). Will try to go to the market tomorrow morning. Anchored for the night in the bay of Citron, southern part of Noumea.

Saturday, 13 November 2004, Noumea

Early morning motored to the Marina Moselle, Noumea. We were there at 7 am and put the fish back into the dingy and went to the market which was only 100 m away – sold the fish to the first stall for 500 Fr per kilo, or the total of 13,000 Fr or equivalent of 150 USD! Quite good deal! Ivo is now seriously considering to make his living by fishing instead of chartering!!??  

Checked into the marina and cleared immigration and customs – procedure was quite straight forward and easy, all arranged by the marina staff. Neat marina, good facilities, nearby shops, internet cafes and chandleries. Met many cruisers who are on the way to Australia or NZ. Boat Emma was just opposite to us and soon learned that there are more than 10 boats leaving once the wind is right.

Good facilities, so there was more cleaning and washing done. Market is conveniently located just few hundred meters away from the Marina, town centre close as well. The market also had the best morning coffee and croissants in South Pacific. We went walking, visited a few internet cafes.

Main square in Noumea Music at the Market

Noumea is an interesting town, in fact New Caledonia seems quite different to the other French territories. Although NC has had its share of unrest with the indigenous Kanaks who wanted their independence, today Noumea certainly seemed very westernized and we saw very few Kanaks in town. Compared to Tahiti or French Polynesia, westerners, or white population seemed in majority. The climate too seemed  very Mediterranean more so than other places in the Pacific. Difficult to imagine that this is cyclone territory. The Harbour Master told us that earlier in the year a localized cyclone had passed close to Noumea and most boats had found themselves washed up onshore if not sunk. And the Marina was in the process of testing all its pontoons and moorings while we were there.

Sunday, 14 November 2004, Noumea

Susan found more food lockers contaminated with weevils – so more cleaning. Teak deck finally scrubbed with brush and fresh water, stern polished. In the afternoon bus ride to the Southern tip of the peninsula, Recif Cesar, Hotel Le Meridien and walked back to the Baie de Citron. Had dinner in the mini brewery, ‘Les 3 Brasseurs’, had one flammekueche each (sort of pizza with super thin crust) and home made beer. Very good and expensive, ca 5000 Fr or approx 60 USD for dinner for two!!

Taxi ride back was only 750 Fr.

Monday, 15 November 2004, Noumea

We are hoping and waiting for Takapuna to arrive, this is their home country, but there is no wind and they have been delayed several days somewhere out there on the ocean. Looks like we’ll have to leave without seeing them. While waiting we are also preparing to leave Tuesday morning. Cleaning, provisioning, updating the web site with the itinerary for 2005.

Paying the marina fees 2100 Fr per day, in total 6400 for 4 days – first day was gratis.

Visited by two local Grand Soleil owners, one has GS 43 and the other GS 52 - obviously rumors spread quickly here - Grand Soleil yachts have very good reputation in France and Europe in general and owners are keen to met each other. The GS 52 owner lives on board with his family already 7 years. They are French, moved to New Caledonia 8 yrs ago, he works in the bank and the wife is physiotherapist, have two kids, 11 and 16 yrs. During our cruise in South Pacific met many French cruising families - cruising with families is obviously very popular in France.  

We cleared out with Customs and immigration and while in the port area saw a nice workshop where they sell polished stone turned into jewellery and other nice items. Bought a few presents here.

Tuesday, 16 November 2004, preparations to leave Noumea

Nice quiet morning, low wind. Wind is expected to pick up in the afternoon and for the following few days nice 15 to 20 kn SE is expected. Getting ready to leave, last preparations, shower & water onboard.

Leaving at 8:30am, motoring south to the Ilot Amedee, apparently a nice island with coral reefs and a huge light house which is a guide to the Passe de Boulari – will probably spend a day here and wait for the wind.

Arrived at Ilot Amedee at 11 am. Diving and cleaning the bottom. Last time it was properly cleaned was on Bora-Bora and since then it has again become all green and full of 2-3 mm slimy layer of fouling. Propeller as well and it became recently obvious that it is high time to clean it as Fiu’s speed dropped at least a knot (with the engine at 2000 revs we were making 5.5 kn and it used to be approx 6.5!).

After two long diving sessions Fiu’s bottom was finally clean as new.

Just before finishing touches encountered a poisonous sea snake just centimetres in front of my nose – got a scare of my life! Moved back quickly and snake just continued to move elegantly towards the island. Apparently, although they are very poisonous, have very small mouth and do not attack people.

Amedee lighthouse Lighthouse built in 1862 Tricot Raye, sea snake Ilot Amedee

Walking on the island, impressive lighthouse, built 1862, all metal construction, well preserved, no rust at all.

Have seen many more sea snakes on the island – they are protected species and obviously not dangerous for people as this island is visited by hundreds of tourists during weekends and holidays. Apparently they come onshore to digest their meals! We nearly stepped on several of them, they were everywhere.

Wednesday, 17 November 2004 

Starting early, getting up at 5 am as it was already light. At 6 am already under way.

Light, 20+ kn SE wind, beautiful sailing with the wind on the beam – making 8-9 knots, heading towards Coffs Harbour, 850 nm, course 230.

At 6pm 110 nm in 12 hours. Average speed 7.5 knots, wind around 20-25 kn from SE. Position 23.17S & 165.01E course 222 T

[To follow our journey and read about the crossing & arrival in Australia please click here]

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