Day 161, Year 2: Bicycle Trip to Baie de Lekine
Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Weather: Absolutely Gorgeous Day
Location: Mouli, Island of ouvea in the Loyalties, New Caledonia

All across the Pacific I have been looking for the perfect anchorage–long white sand beach, azure water that is crystal clear, great snorkeling right under the boat. Our anchorage here at Mouli definitely fits two of the categories, the white sand beach and the crystal clear azure water, but unfortunately the great snorkeling is not right here under my boat. Nevertheless, this is one of the most amazing places we have seen. Just sitting here and looking out over the water is mesmerizing. People tell us that the Iles of Pines are even more beautiful and might fit all three of my qualifying categories. I’m anxious to find out, but I am not anxious to leave here. It is just too beautiful for words.

Early this morning we put our folding bicycles in the dinghy and took them to shore. We haven’t used them since New Zealand, so unfolding them took a little force. A family that swam out to our boat when we first anchored is still at the homestay, Mowague, where we come ashore, and when the children saw what we were carrying they were eager to see how they would turn into bicycles. Mark and I really had difficulty with one bicycle, and another guest at Mowague came to help us. He was from the Marlborough Sound on the South Island of New Zealand and was very interested in our voyage. Once he took my place and put his muscle into the process, the bike opened easily. The children who were watching the process were satisfied and went back to have their breakfast. Mark and I got on the road and it felt great. The skies were perfectly clear and bright blue and the waters of the lagoon glistened as we headed north. We were on an information finding mission, and we couldn’t think of a better way to explore a flat island with paved roads–not something we have seen much of on our voyage. We traveled north the way we had walked yesterday and then went beyond that point. We came to a hill and when we started the descent we could see the Baie de Lekine on our right. The view was breathtaking. The shades of green to blue of the crystal clear water and the bright blue sky was overwhelming. We stopped at the Hotel Paradis d’Ouvea and we were overwhelmed with it as well. What a lovely
spot with view of the lagoon and the white sand beach out front and the Baie de Lekine out back. We found a young man who could speak English and we started asking our many questions. Can we take our dinghies into the bay? Can we snorkel in the bay? Where can we make a reservation for going out on the bay in a glass-bottomed boat? Where can we make a reservation for walking across the mouth of the bay at low tide? And on and on. The young man was very helpful, but he said that the definitive answers to our questions could be found at the Camp de Lekine across the Mouli bridge. so on we rode. We came to a little restaurant, the Snack Chez Fassy and stopped for a cold drink. Again the views of the lagoon and the bay were fantastic from this location, but little did we know that things just got better and better. After leaving Snack Chez Fassy we came to the Mouli bridge that goes across an entrance from the lagoon to the bay. We walked our bikes across just so we could take in the sights below us. We didn’t see a lot of big fish, but we did see hundreds of small fish and one very satisfied heron. Just beyond the bridge, we found Camp de Lekine, a homestay, and hopefully the place where we would find the definitive answers to our questions. Valerie, a young woman who left France to become a dive instructor in Egypt in the Red Sea and then moved to Ouvea was the right person. She told us that bringing our dinghies into the bay or snorkeling there is forbidden. The glass-bottomed
boat is out of commission right now, and the tides are not low enough during daylight hours for us to do the cliff walk right now. So we struck out on all fronts, but she did give us directions for seeing the same sights we would see on the cliff walk so we could go on our own.

We rode back towards Mouli and once again took in all of the beautiful views of the bay and the lagoon. We looked for the Corderie de Fibre de Coco rope-making factory, but we didn’t find it. When we got closer to Mouli we stopped at a place that looks like it sells cars and trucks and tried to ask about the rope-making factory. No one could understand us, and about that time, a little green car pulled up with Paul and Marie of Ranger and Donna and Gerry of Scot Free II inside. They had found a car to rent and were headed north up island. Gerry got out to help interpret for Mark as he was inquiring about the rope factory and what we found out is that the factory is no longer. Our friends headed north in their rental car and we headed back to Mouli. We stopped to inquire about renting a car for tomorrow and had a very interesting “conversation” with a gentleman that spoke only French while we speak no French at all. With lots of charades and writing on paper, we found out that we could get a car tomorrow for half a day. We signed up for that and continued on our way home. We visited the Catholic church, rode around on roads behind tribu de Mouli and ended up south of the tribu on the main road headed south to the end of the island. We rode on, but then realized that we were probably getting sunburned and that was lunch time. So we headed back to Mowague to where we had left our dinghy.

We sought permission to leave our bikes at the homestay, talked with Laurent and family once again, invited them out to Windbird later in the afternoon, and then headed out to the boat. After we had lunch and Mark had a little siesta, he went back to shore to get Laurent, his wife Viviane, and the their three children. Only Laurent and the children came out. Viviane opted for some quiet time. We enjoyed our visit with the kids and Laurent. The oldest child is Ludovic, age 7, and the two little girls are 5 and 3 years-old. I was mystified by the boy-girl differences. Ludovic wanted to see books about sharks while the little girls each found a little stuffed animal, a pillow, and a little kava bowl. They used the bowls to feed their babies and carried them around on the pillows. Ludovic had no interest in playing dolls. when the girls tried to rearrange my laundry on the line, Ludovic was only interested in how the clothes pins worked. Mark and I were both amazed at the stark differences in the girl-boy interests. When Mark took them home he was going to bring back our bicycles, but he forgot the keys to the locks. I heard him coming back because I could the screams of delight of young children. Mark had only Ludovic and the oldest girl and he was flying across the anchorage to their delight. All I could think is that children will play.

We had sundowners on Ranger once they returned from their island tour and we got some tips for our trip tomorrow. The weather looks like we will stay here another two to three days and then head to the Iles of Pines. I can’t wait to get there to see if it is actually my dream anchorage.

071002 Day161 Loyalty Islands, New Cal–Bicycle Trip to Baie de Lekiny