Day 164, Year 2: Silver Bells and Cockle Shells
Date: Friday, October 5, 2007
Weather: Same Old, Same Old–Another Perfect Day
Location: Mouli, Island of Ouvea in the Loyalties, New Caledonia

There is a shell here that is abundant on the beach. It is a bivalve, basically white, sometimes with some pink to orange spots, and it has one flat side. I picked some up the other day, brought them back to the boat, and washed and dried them. What seemed like a nondescript shell on the beach began to look beautiful to me, so I looked in our only shell book and identified the shells as half-heart cockles. According to our book this is an uncommon Indo-Pacific shell. Whether or not uncommon,
I decided that I wanted to collect as many as possible today. Low-tide was at 7:30 AM, so just after we ate breakfast, we headed to shore to walk the incredibly beautiful white sand beach and pick up cockle shells. We tried to remember the nursery rhyme with “cockle shells” in it, but it didn’t come to us right away. All we could remember is “silver bells and cockle shells” and quickly the conversation went in another direction. When we finished our early morning collection we went back out
to Windbird and saw that Donna and Gerry of Scot Free II were visiting with Ranger. We had talked on the radio earlier about getting together to discuss the weather, so we dropped off our shells on Windbird and went over to Ranger. When I announced that we had been collecting cockle shells, Paul immediately started reciting, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” Of course, Mary’s garden grows with “silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maidens in a row.”

We spent a great deal of the morning on Ranger visiting and discussing the various possibilities for getting from here to the Isles of Pines that are south-southeast of here with winds that are blowing from the east-southeast. We have been watching the weather everyday and Mark has produced new spreadsheets based on the latest information. Whether to leave tomorrow or Sunday is one of the questions, but Gerry decided that he is leaving tomorrow morning around 6 AM. Ranger and Windbird are going
to wait to hear from him once he is out there and then decide whether or not we are leaving tomorrow or the next day. This is one passage where we might have to tack back and forth to get to our destination. Usually we just run a straight rhumb line, but that might not be possible this time.

We went back to shore in the afternoon with Scot Free and Ranger. While walking up the road, a family came out to say bon jour. Gerry could talk with them and he was asking if there is a craft market here on Tuesdays. I read that in a publication, but we have seen no evidence of anything like that. The family said that there is not, but they produced a backpack with some beautiful cowrie shells that they would sell to us. We all ended up with one or more beautiful cowrie shells and then we walked
on to the Cocotier homestay to visit the boutique there. They have some beautiful wood carvings there, but they are quite pricey. So we enjoyed “window” shopping. We ended up staying there and having a couple of beers and just enjoying the afternoon together. We had a discussion about what is essential and what is not for each of us sailing around the world, and I am planning on writing about that in tomorrow’s log.

Last night I posed a question in my log, and our daughter Heather got back to us right away with her thoughts on the subject. “IF the paper napkins are thrown overboard far enough from land that they won’t litter the beaches, and IF the paper napkins are fully exposed to the water (i.e. not in a trash bag), then they probably don’t pose a big problem. They are definitely easily broken down. However, depending on what your detergent is, it may not be a big problem either (phosphates and nitrates
are discouraged, as they are nutrients that can cause algal blooms). So the question comes down to which requires more fossil fuel energy and creates more pollution in production … paper napkins or detergent? And I really don’t know the answer to that.” When we get to Noumea and high speed internet, we will see if anyone else decided to weigh-in on this question and report those thoughts then.

The stop here in Ouvea has been unbelievably relaxing. Mark and I don’t usually enjoy just doing nothing, but we have enjoyed doing just that here in Ouvea. Being anchored here in Ouvea off the tribu de Mouli has been one of our most memorable anchorages of this cruising season. Now on to the Isle of Pines.