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have ordered the women to wear multicoloured wide hubbahub dresses and these still are the fashion these days: a bit outdated but very colourfull.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