Day 151, Year 2: Arrival in New Caledonia
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day; No Wind
Latitude: 20 degrees 40.934 minutes
Longitude: 164 degrees 56.890 minutes
Location: Baie de Hienghene, Grand Terre, New Caledonia
Last night was the what is referred to as “dead calm.” As the sun set, a reddish haze set in all around the horizon. The water was totally glassy, and that along with the haze was almost eerie. The last time we remember having an evening like this was the night we crossed the equator. The calmness stayed with us throughout the night and we could see the reflections of little pinpoints of light from the stars in the water. Around 1 AM, we changed course just slightly to head to a new waypoint,
and the course was just right to allow a path of moonlight to lead the way. The first night out of Vanuatu, I felt chilled, so last night Mark got out a polar fleece blanket for me. I still have this cold and the night air didn’t feel as good as it usually does. Even though last night was much warmer, I still enjoyed cuddling in that blanket and following the moonlight. Not long after the sun came up this morning, we started getting a little wind. Not much, but enough that I could let out the
mainsail, cut back on the RPM’s, and still maintain our 5.2 knots that would allow us to arrive in mid-afternoon. Galaxie and Ranger arrived a couple of hours before us, and we dropped anchor around 2:00 in the afternoon.
Paul on Ranger and Simon on Galaxie were headed into town about the time we arrived. Not long after we anchored, we got a radio call from Paul telling us that everything in town was closed until Tuesday–everything, that is, except the gendarmarie or police station. Monday is New Caledonia Day and people here are certainly taking the holiday seriously. The gendarme explained that we would have to wait until Tuesday to check-in, but he called Noumea and found that with a copy of our passports and
boat documentation on file in his office, we were free to roam about this area until Tuesday morning. So the good news is that we are not confined to our boats. If the gendarme is correct and we can fully check-in on Tuesday without having to make a land trip to Noumea, that will be fantastic. It is just another one of those cases where we have to wait and see.
Mark and I took a dinghy ride over to the Mission D’Ouare on the far side of the bay. There is a tribu or Kanak village there and Hienghene’s Catholic mission. It was just after high tide, but even so it got very shallow the nearer we got to shore. We finally had to pull up the dinghy motor and row the last little bit. We had hoped to find out what time mass would be tomorrow morning so we could attend. We thought that if we attended church we might get an invitation into the village. But we
had one huge problem. We speak no French and no one we met could speak any English. There were no adults to be found. We could hear that they were all in the village singing and dancing. There were a number of teenagers around, but try as we might, we could not successfully communicate. So shallow water and a lack of information will keep us from attending mass. Instead, we will probably just explore the area by dinghy.
In the late afternoon, Incognita and Scot Free II came sailing in. We are all anchored with La Poule Couveuse (the brooding chicken) and Le Sphinx surrounding us. These rock formations are beautiful and remind me of a cross between the Bay of Islands in New Zealand and the islands of the Marquesas. As in the Marquesas, we need to brush up on our French. “Bon Jour”, “Au Revoir”, “Merci Beaucoup”, and “Parlez-vous Anglais?” are about as much as we can handle. I guess we’ll pull out the French
dictionary and carry it with us.
While looking at the chart today, we realized we are now in the Coral Sea and will remain so until we reach northern Australia next season. This is still part of the South Pacific, but sets itself apart. Just looking at our latitude and longitude, it is easy to see that we are in a different part of the world. In our study of the computer guide to New Caledonia, we see that we will also start getting our weather from JCUMetSat, James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, instead of from MetVuw
in New Zealand. And it is very cool here in the evening. That should be a welcome relief from the hot and steamy nights in Vanuatu, but I’m not sure I’m ready for cool. These are a few of the differences we are noticing, but I’m sure we are going to find many other differences as we get closer to Australia and to a more modern society. We feel so blessed to have been able to share the traditional values and lifestyles of the people of the Western Pacific. And I’m sure we are going to continue
to enjoy each and every new place we visit. But right now, we just feel a little emptiness having just left Vanuatu–a very special place on Planet Earth. Now on to New Caledonia.
|070922 Day 151 Grand Terre, New Cal–Passage and Arrival in New Caledonia|