New Caledonia

After successfully escaping Oz, before winter had had a chance to start, it was time to start enjoying the delights of South Pacific Islands cruising.

I had caught up with Barry (owner of Logic‘s sistership Twocan) while in Melbourne, were he and his lovely wife Margaret, spend their summers. As is the serendipity of the cruising life, he was planning to arrive in Noumea, from Fiji, around the same time I was planning too arrive from Oz.

He arrived the day before we didMy most important and enjoyable task for 2018, was walking my Precious Eldest Daughter (PED), down the aisle for her marriage to the lovely boy (now man) who took her to their school formal 11 years ago.When I got back Barry was like a wound up spring, ready to get stuck into our planed, repeat batching cruising of New Caledonia for a month. It worked so well in Fiji last year, that we were both were looking forward to the repeat in New Cal.

It is very easy to provision in Noumea, 200mts from the marina and dingy dock, (if on anchor in the harbor), is a fresh fruit and vegetable marketA fish monger, for Barry to get the prawns for his signature prawn linguine dishThe shopping centre was less than a kilometer away ,and had everything you would expect to find in it’s Australian counterpart, plus the expected emphasis on French staples, like fresh baguettes and blue cheese. On of my favorite comfort foods as we did last year, we planned to alternate cooking dinner on our respective boat (the guest supplying the bottle of wine)I am now giving serious thoughts to adding the weight of a BBQ to Logic after Barry’s scrumptious Chicken MarylandsThe standard way of going to dinner was for Barry to paddle over in his kayak,

or me to SUP over too Twocanwhile for some it is an aussie custom, to grab a beer on one’s return home from work and turn on the  TV news, Barry and mine is to mix a G&T and watch the sunset

two days after my return from the most important wedding of the century, Logic and Twocan were off to the Loyalty Island ( a chain of 3 island, 80-100 miles off the SE of the main island of New Caledonia)

On route, I downloaded the latest weather forecast, which were now telling us there was no wind to speak of , for the next 4 days. Mumby’s are sailing boats not motor boats, so 100miles of motoring is not what we do. While I was in Noumea, a kiwi bloke that had been here for 5 years had raved about how good the south lagoon islands and cays  were. My cruising moto is “the plan is to have no plan,  be at one with nature and the weather”. No wind would be ideal for the south lagoon, so I got on the VHF and discussed the options with Baz. The consensus was to go south rather than east.We anchored that night at Port Kourtoure on the southern side of Ile Ouen (1).

Baz’s prawn linguine was as good as his rave reviewThe next day we did 7miles down to Ilot Mato (2)

with a narrow entry south of the island into the lagoon

The sun set that evening over Ilot Matoin the morning we climbed to the top of the island (being very carful not the break a fetlock in the profusion of mutton bird nesting borrows)the day after was a 9mile day, down too Ilot Uatio (3) it was low tide when we went ashore, forcing us to leave the canoe and SUP anchored at the edge of the coral shelf , and walk the distance to the island

This pretty crab, did not like having us in it’s spaceThe weather forcast had the window of light wind and sunny days coming to an end in 3-4days, so we decided to go over to Isle de Pines (4), while we had this amazingly good weather.

after a 42mile day we dropped the anchor in Baie de Kanamurafor a postcard sunsetI made a green papaya salad to accompany dinner (and use up the fresh herbs, before they expired)The next day was Sunday, not a great day to go provision shopping. But we did find a store open , that had an amazing good array of food stuff (lots of fat, sugar, salt and preservatives in such stuff), but unfortunately no fresh fruit and vegetables.The weather forecasts were all now in agreement, that in 2 days time we were in for 3 days of 25kt SSEly wind with plenty of rain, so time to move on to an appropriate anchorage.

42 miles north was the Baie du Prony (5), were we picked up a mooring buoys off Ilot CasyThe day before the blow arrived we took Albert for a run up to the old township of Prony, were there was the  explanation the for all the eroded landscape of the main the late 1,800s and early 1,900s, Prony was a forestry centre, were all the pine trees that were then covering the main island were “harvested”. The convict labourers were housed in this now ruined buildingon the second day of the blow, the rain stopped enough for Barry and I go for a walk around Casy Island

another natural resource  on New Caledonia is/were the rich veins of nickel, that regularly come the to surface. There must have been one of them on the top of Casy Island, as it had obviously been mined, many years ago.

The weather forecast was now giving us two options for our next leg, over too The Loyalty Island. Either leave the next day with 20kts of wind and the 2.8mt swell, left over from the blow. Or the day after, when the swell would have dropped, but the wind would be less than 10kts of tail wind, most of the 110 miles.

We left the next day with scattered showers motoring into a short steep swell, while we got out of Baie du PronyI got some great actions shots of Twocan

When we got out of the Baie du Prony and into the Canal de la Havannah, if got “interesting”, the swells were not 1mt tall, they were 3mts tall and just as steep, as the 20mt water depth stood them up. By now I had the staysail up, with the 2nd reefed mainsail, and was doing 8-10kts, punching into the waves. Sorry for the lack of photos, but there was a lot of water coming over the cabin roof, and I was fully focused on getting out to deeper water. I had made sure we were going through at slack tide, an outgoing tide would have been a  “white knuckles” experience.

a few hours after leaving Casy Island, we were in deep water and could pull away and head north towards Lafou Island

This series of photos of Twocan, should give you a good idea of the size of the swell, Barry and I had to deal with for 12hrs. One would definitely not have wanted to be prone to sea-sickness


we snuck into Drueulu Bay. Lafou,  just as the sun was setting


to wake to a “living the dream” south pacific island anchorage

now to enjoy The Loyalty Island, with weather like this forecast for the next 10days

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cheers Francis