Checking out….for want of chart chip…..

Dear F&F, October 17th – 18th, 2011 (Eastern Hemisphere)

One of the problems that slipped my mind a few weeks back was that I didn\’t realize to check to see if I had the current chart cartography (chart chip) for the East Coast of Australia for \”Beach House\’s\” navigation system. When I started to do my planning, I realized that I didn\’t! So, I emailed Mike Lonnes, my \”go to\” guy in Redondo Beach, California and he purchased and had his lovely wife Beth send me the flash card with all the charts. This was sent to Kay\’s \”Mum\’s\” house in the Gold Coast, an hour south of Brisbane. The problem of course became one of getting it to Kay before she left to come join me in Vanuatu. And of course, it didn\’t happen. Kay\’s Mum then mailed the envelope to Port Moselle Marina. Despite the fact that there are daily flights from Brisbane to Noumea in New Caledonia, it took 9 days!

Kay and I went to the Marina office the day we were sure it would arrive. The office told us they don\’t go to the post office on Monday\’s as the Saturday mail sorting doesn\’t finish till late Monday as the post office doesn\’t sort on the weekends. Welcome to the Pacific!

We went to the post office in hopes that we could get the package. The guy at the window told me, \”Yes, we have your package\”. I asked him for it with passport in hand, knowing it was addressed to me personally. He said that since the Marina\’s office was the address of record, they would have to pick it up. Welcome to the Pacific (and a bit of French bureaucracy on the side!) He told me I could go to the P.O. Box window and ask. Within one minute I got the package after standing in line at the front for a half an hour. Welcome to the Pacific.

So, with our \”charts\” in hand, we then did a bit of last minute shopping, made the two hours of rounds to Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain\’s office and headed back to \”Beach House\”. It was after lunch by this time and we knew we would have to break the trip up to the Isle of Pines in too at least two days.

Technically, once we\’d checked out of Noumea, we were supposed to leave the country within 24 hours. I knew however that a \”weather window\” was shaping up, but it was just too soon to leave and we wanted to see the famous Isle of Pines. The trip was 65 miles and I didn\’t want to have to go, come back and then check out as we would then miss the coming weather window. We would leave directly from The Isle of Pines. Jerome of s/v \”Na Maka\” told me this was done all the time and it would be no worry. Fortunately, he was right.

So we upped anchor from \”Baie L\’Orlephains\” and motored in no wind to \”Baie Pronie\” 25 miles to the south. We\’d been told it was a lovely pine tree\’d area with moorings for visiting yachts and in view of the Wind Farm (wind powered generators) and one of the major Nickel mines in the south.

The trip was uneventful and Kay got a kick out of watching a French Naval vessel doing helicopter take off and landing exercises in the tropical background setting. We went back through the Canal Woodin and arrived thankfully just before dark. The moorings were all taken, so we anchored for the night.

At around 2 a.m. (Why is it always at 2 a.m.?), the expected front came through and the wind and rain really started to blow. We were snug and as always, I close up the hatches at night in case of rain, no worries. The next day, the wind was from right where we wanted to go blowing 15-20 knots. Now normally, I would not have budged. But, the weather window was coming and if we wanted to see the Isle of Pines, we\’d have to go on the 40 mile trip today, as tomorrow, it would be blowing much stronger.

We left in only 15 knots of wind to \”test the waters\”. The first third of the trip wasn\’t too bad, but then it just got worse and worse. By the time we were half way, Kay was back in \”mal-de-mar\” mode and we were motoring into 3 meter (10 foot) seas with 30 knots of wind in our face. Boat speed was down to 3.5 to 5.7 knots from the early morning\’s 7+ knots. This of course just delayed the agony of the passage. I would say it was the third worst day trip I\’d taken in 4 years. Only the Hiva – Oa to Fatu Hiva trip and crossing of the Southern Sea of Cortez were worse.

We passed along the way, m/v \”Oso Blanco\” with Eric and family aboard. They were going \”the right way\” on their lovely Nordhaven 64; we weren\’t!

When we finally arrived, we anchored amongst the 15 other boats in the lovely bay having averaged about 4.7 knots for the day. Kay began to recover and we called it an early night; anchoring right next to s/v \”Na Maka\” and in view of m/v \”Mystery Ship\”.

So for the want of not having a chart chip, we were delayed and had to go through a nasty day. Did I forget to mention it was Kay\’s birthday? Happy Birthday Kay! It\’s one she\’ll never forget…..

More tomorrow…..whew!

Scott with resting Kay!