Sailing to New Caledoinia…..

Dear F&F, October 8th – 12th, 2011 (Eastern Hemisphere)

This would be Kay\’s first ocean crossing. We went to the local markets, cleared customs and immigration and prepared \”Beach House\” for sea. The journey would be a short one, but potentially a bit more up wind than normal as we had to go around the south side of New Caledonia to check into Noumea. Noumea is New Caledonia\’s Capital and really the only official \”Port of Call\” to enter the country.

A personal story is in order here. Years ago, when I first met Cindy, she\’d told me she\’d met a French Policeman who fell in love with her instantly while on a Club Med vacation. Trust me, he wasn\’t alone. He wanted to whisk her away to New Caledonia to be his paramour. She declined, he was crushed. We had always planned to come here and pick up where he left off. We always kidded about it. Alas…another lifetime perhaps.

The weather window was pretty good, but with the wind a bit forward of the beam initially, a bit bouncy and Kay had a bit of \”mal de mer\”. To her credit, she recovered quite quickly. We both discovered that we were truly serious when we told each other that neither of us were much use in the galley. We managed and Kay did the lion\’s share sparing me much embarrassment. Having some prepared meals before departure is always helpful. Microwave to the rescue yet again!

The wind was a close reach, then a beam reach and finally on day two; aft the beam. The second day was really gorgeous, flat seas and lovely winds. Approaching the \”Loyalty Islands\” (the small outlying group off the south side of the main island). We were treated to some really interesting views that could have been anywhere in the world. PINE TRESS were the dominant feature, specifically the \”cone pine\” (not to be confused with pine cones). These are very narrow and tall (see photo gallery \”New Caledonia\”). These trees were a dominant feature of much of Southern New Caledonia and really a striking contrast to the South Sea setting.

The weather in New Caledonia to my mind was some of the best in the Pacific. The island is tropical, but at this time of year (Winter/Spring) the night time temperatures were in the mid 60\’s deg F/17-20 deg C at night. Day time temperatures were still tropical, but with less humidity than many places in the tropical Pacific.

We arrived through the Havanah Pass and continued north up the Canal Woodin. As New Caledonia is part of French Polynesia, French is the language of the local population, but English is widely spoken. We arrived at Port Moselle and had enough time to check in with Customs and Immigration and then just relaxed.

En route past Port Moselle, we spotted old friends Jerome and Nathalie (and kids) aboard s/v \”Na Maka\”; sister ship and our buddy boat from last season.

It was great to see them and they had Kay and I over for dinner our second night at Baie O\’rphelina (The Bay of Orphans). The name of the bay is specifically in reference to all the cruising boats that anchor here. We had around 100 boats around us. We are all \”orphans of the sea\”, for me a most poignant and personal life note.

The next day, we were joined by old friends Jim & Pat Whiting along with Sandy Zaslaw and Chuck Cohen aboard s/v \”Wetnose\”. The Rugby World Cup was on the TV that evening and we all went to the New Caledonia Yacht Club where the French defeated the Aussies in the semi-finals. As we were in a French territory, you can imagine they were more than a bit excited.

Next, some touring, a history lesson and off to the Isle of Pines….. Stay tuned, Scott with Kay