Day 149, Year 2: Passage to New Caledonia, Day 1
Date: Thursday, September 20, 2007
Weather: Totally Overcast; Winds SE 14, Beam Reach Doing 6 Knots
Latitude: 18 degrees 07.320 minutes
Longitude: 168 degrees 04.580 minutes
Location: Passage from Efate, Vanuatu to New Caledonia

Gentlemen never sail to weather. So Mark asks, “What gentlemen?” So here we are sloshing into the wind on our 48-hour sail to New Caledonia. I’ve intentionally not said where we are going in New Caledonia as we are not quite sure. We got all sorts of mixed information about check-in. The latest book and computer program on sailing New Caledonia are unfortunately out-of-date. The website information on Noonsite was better, but still not clear. We talked with people who have been there this
season, and even then we got mixed information. So we set out just after noon today and our hope was to sail to a port named We on an island named Lifou in the Loyalty Islands. We is Lifou’s main town and it sits along the waterfront of the Baie de Chateaubriand. And yes, New Caledonia is French. These islands are are to the north and east of Grand Terre, the main island in New Cal. We had been told by many cruisers that you can go to We and check in with Quarantine and Customs and that they
will then give you seven days to get to Noumea, the main city in New Caledonia where we would then check in with Immigration. BUT I just heard a conversation on the VHF radio between Simon on Galaxie and another boat headed our direction and the news was not good. The other boat (not sure of the name) said they called the port captain in We today and that we will only be given three days to get to Noumea. That totally negates the whole reason for going there. We had hoped to be able to use the
seven days to explore the Loyalty Islands, but three days will not give us any time to explore. And if we go on to Noumea, we will never be able to get back north to the Loyalties in the short time we have to spend in New Cal. Captain Mark is taking his mandatory afternoon passage nap and he has not yet heard the bad news. During the night, we will have to study the situation and decide what to do. There is a port on the northeast coast of the main island where we could go and check in with Customs
and Quarantine. We would then have to take a bus to Noumea to check in with Immigration and that would be a two-day affair as it is a seven hour bus ride. But if we do that, we would then be able to sail sixty miles to the East, not easy to do, but possible, to the Loyalties. We could then explore those islands, head south to the Iles de Pines, supposedly the most beautiful spot in New Cal, and then on to Noumea. So we either take our gamble and go to We hoping they will give us the seven days,
or we change course and go for the port of Hienghene (yen-ghen). I guess we will just have to see where the wind blows us.

So we don’t know where we are going, but we sure know where we have been. Vanuatu rates a 10+ on our scale of places to cruise. If we had another season to spend in the South Pacific, I would spend the entire time in Vanuatu. We love Fiji, but we got to spend almost three months there. We arrived in Vanuatu on August 4, so we had just about six weeks there. That was enough time to see the highlights, but we could spend months exploring further north and staying longer times in the places we
did visit. Vanuatu comes closest to the sailor’s dream of a South Pacific where people still live a traditional lifestyle and where beauty abounds both on land and under the sea. Our experience at the festival in North Ambrym was the highlight of our South Pacific cruising experience. And visiting the volcano, Mt. Yasur, on Tanna is right up there as well. Our visit in the village on Uri Island and our underwater explorations in their giant clam reserve were also spectacular. We connected more
easily with the people of Fiji and that is another highlight. Both Fiji and Vanuatu will always have a special place in our hearts, and right now our minds are filled to the brim with memories of simply spectacular, and almost unbelievable experiences.

The captain is up now and is on the navigation computer trying to figure out where we should go. We talked to Ranger who is traveling with us and they are also working on a plan. But for now, “somewhere” in New Caledonia is our destination.

070920 Day 149 Efate, Vanuatu–Miscellaneous Photos from Port Vila
070920 Day 149 Efate, Vanuatu–Mother Hubbard Dresses
Day 150, Year 2: Passage from Vanuatu to New Caledonia, Day 2
Day 148, Year 2: A Visit to a Magical Place