27 June 2009

Coral Sea

After a quiet night in a bay behind the NewCal reef, we continue on Monday. Still the sea is uncomfortable due to a stiff wind of 20-25 knots. But Wednesday morning the wind is less and the sea is settling. Thursday and Friday we have two wonderfull days sailing under mainsail and reacher!

After NewCal we've met no vessels any more. Once we've had a group of 20 big dolphins around the boat and in the evening we see some birds chasing for food. Friday a group of six birds in competition for a place on top of the mast have broken down the windex vane, overboard now. The winner has kept his high position for one day and one night, no trick to chase him away and in the morning birdshit on the sails and the deck (thank you).

Due to westerly(!) winds we have to sail south of the the Lihou reefs and we decide to stop at East Diamond Island for a swim, a good meal and a quiet sleep. Still 315 nm to go to Cairns.

Slideshow Coral Sea

21 June 2009

Au revoir Noumea

Fridaymorning our last shopping: on the market fresh veggies, at the 'boulanger' 2 french sticks and we are ready to go. At 12.00 p.m. we depart Port Moselle marina to refuel duty free. It is raining and not a lot of wind so we decide to anchor the first night near the lighthouse. After clearance you are allowed 48 hrs in NewCal waters (unlike other countries!). Sundaymorning we leave the sheltered New Caledonian lagoon via the Passe Boulari heading for Cairns in Australia. The day starts cloudy with not a lot of wind, in the afternoon we have a good run and hope that this will last through the night. Unfortunately the wind increases so that the sails have to be reefed. Again a stormy night, with following seas and winds. We make good progress but sleeping is not comfortable Sundaymorning the wind dies out slowly but the seas are still confused. As we are still close to the reef we decide to make landfall again and find a sheltered anchorage for a good night sleep.

Slideshow coast on New Caledonia

12 June 2009

Noumea in New Caledonia

After the violence of the low pressure systems we once again have light winds. So every now and then we are motorsailing or we have a quiet and slow sail. On approach of New Caledonia we encounter heavy northerlies, on the nose, so that's an unwelcome surprise because we still have to enter the pass through the reef to come into the lagoon of NewCal. New Caledonia is situated between Vanuatu and Australia and since we have our SSB radio out of order, we think repairs are better to be done here.
Once with high speed through the pass we enter calmer waters and we can sail to the main city Noumea, a leg of 25 nm. We are happy to drop anchor at 04.00 am next to the Port Moselle marina.

Friday at 10.00 am we find a berth in the marina and have to wait for officers of Quaranteen, Immigration and Customs before we are allowed to step on Newcaledonian ground. Time to do the dishes and make ship shape, and then a pleasant walk to the shops for a fresh baguette and French cheeses. Luckily we stil have some fine New Zealand wines because the prices for all groceries and also for the wines are frightening high! They are French wines, NewCal is still a colony of France, but twice as deer as we are used to. The tax system in NewCal is to blame for that: no income tax on the wages, but almost 100% GST on everything. The government has to get her money in one way or the other.

Saturday morning we visit the market next to the marina: all sorts of fresh veges and fruits. Half of the population are 'white' people: NewCal has been a penalty colony of France in he 19th century and the descendants of the ex-detinees have since then build up a new and modern life here. The other half are 'Canac's', the original population of NewCal, dark people as we have seen on most of the Pacific islands. The first missionaires have ordered the women to wear multicoloured wide hubbahub dresses and these still are the fashion these days: a bit outdated but very colourfull. A visit to the market is a real picture!

Slideshow Noumea

8 June 2009

On the high seas

The first days and nights after our departure from nelson we have too light winds. Near Separation Point we are twice surrounded by a pod of dolphins and later on we see the sun sinking behind Farewell Spit. We have to use the engine quite often, but slowly we can pick up some wind along the westcoast of the North Island. The Three Kings are the last and most northerly islands of New Zealand and then we sail into the Pacific Ocean again. We hoist the reacher, a big headsail for light winds, but we like to have a little more wind to speed up a bit.

We have had it. From Friday till Sunday we encountered the passing of warm and cold fronts and a new born low pressure system. The winds are on the nose and exceeded 30 knots. You can hear and feel all powers of nature on and through the boat. With a speed of 8-plus knots you thunder through the water, but life onboard all afternoon is not comfortable any more: the boat heals over, is smashing on waves every now and then and there is a constant beating against the wind. Sleeping is also over and the violence and night seem to last forever.

Monday at 12.00 p.m. there is a sudden silence, the speed is gone and we are rocking on a disturbed sea. We remove the double reef from main and jib and set for normal sailing again. It takes all afternoon to quiten the sea a little but we can walk again and eat something.

Then there is a change of plans: we are heading for New Caledonia!

Slideshow High Seas