Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Noumea and bays to the North

Thursday 11th June

Spent most of the morning desalting the boat: inside and out; then took a walk uptown and checked out some of the local shops and sights.

New Caledonia has a population of 200,000 people and about half live in the Noumea area. The majority of the population is Melanesian with some Indian, Chinese and European. French is the main language and English is rarely spoken by most of the population, but it’s not too hard communicating with our rusty high school French plus a bit of sign language and the odd English word. Everyone seems keen to be friendly and the few trades people we have been using actually turn up to the minute they say they will!

Our biggest hassle has been trying to get reliable internet access. The Port Moselle marina has free wifi but it is very unreliable and slow. We have purchased a local sim card with supposedly 30 hours of data but this old boffin can’t get it to work.

We are getting to know quite a few of our fellow travellers as all of the overseas visiting yachts are put on the same finger of the marina. You have to take pot luck to get a berth as you can’t book ahead but once you are in you are guaranteed 3 days. The rates are very reasonable and facilities are excellent although the harbour is a bit on the nose. Most visitors have to stay on anchor if they can’t get a berth or don’t want to pay, or need to be in the harbour for a longer stay than 3 days.

It’s a small world.  One of our neighbours, Oscar, on the Perry 57 “Zen” lived in Georgetown and worked at Comalco about 20 years ago. We had dinner with him tonight and spent most of the evening chatting about friends we have in common, and there were lots!

A number of the boats that did the Louisiades rally with us are here or are on the way and it’s been great catching up with them.

Friday 12th June

More boat work and roaming around Noumea. The weather is mild, not cold but it has been raining off and on every day since we arrived.

Our maintenance list consisted of navigation light wiring, repair the retrieval line, replace the locking pin that fell out of the starboard steering wheel hub (discovered when we turned off the auto pilot to turn the boat into the wind to drop the main just outside the harbour entrance, Di had a fit when she found she couldn’t control the helm!) and sailmaker repairs to the chafe on the boom bag.

 We are starting to plan our departure. All yachts must clear out of Noumea and once cleared are supposed to leave New Caledonian waters within 24 hours. If you are cruising around Ile De Pins in the south east and want to go to Vanuatu it’s a real pain to have to sail back 75 miles to clear out, and then battle the trades again to go South and clear the reef.

However you can leave your papers (Passports & ship registration) with a clearing agent and once you are ready to leave they will do the clearing out for you and send your paperwork on to you wherever you are. We plan to sail to the Ile De Pins and then the Loyalties and use an agent who will fly our papers to us.

We are planning to do this leg of the trip in company with Peter Anderson who is sailing Haven 111 solo to Vanuatu. Pete also did the Louisiades rally in 2013.

Saturday 13th June

We made a leisurely departure from the marina and short sail to a lovely sheltered bay (Bae De Maa) only 7 miles from Noumea. This is a big bay with lots of coral to check out and a sandy beach and the weather was mostly sunny for a change although the wind is still blowing hard.


Sunday 14th June

Another quiet day with a move to the next bay north. Once again a sunny day, still with the strong SE winds.  Water temperature is 23degrees so swimming is a definite must in the next couple of days. 

Screenshot of chart plotter showing fringing reef
Spoke to Brett on “Winds of Change “on 4483 at 1800. They have 550 nm to go on their run out to Noumea. This is another Louisiades rally friend on a 12.5 m catamaran.
Monday 15th June
Our first swim!  great little spot in a sheltered bay about 10nm north of Noumea. then back to Bae de Maa to catch up with Haven 111. Spent some time with Karen and Rob from Cracked (Newcastle) who are on their 15th trip out here!
Tuesday 16th June
Back to the marina to pick up the repaired boom bag and meet with the clearing agent. Other new friends are Christine and Darren and two young sons on Freyer out of Brisbane who are doing a 12 month Pacific cruise similar to us.




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