Day 177, Year 2: A Day in Noumea
Date: Thursday, October 18, 2007
Weather: Sunny Day with Evening Sprinkles; Winds SSE 18
Location: l’Orphelinat Bay, Noumea, New Caledonia

It is 8 PM and we just got back to Windbird after twelve hours ashore. We are anchored in the bay around the corner from the Port Moselle Yacht Club and downtown Noumea, so it is easier to dinghy the mile or so to the yacht club dinghy dock than it is to find a place to come ashore in l’Orphelinant Bay and then take a bus around to town. Because of the distance, once we went to town today, we just stayed there, but actually the day flew by. Ranger is on a dock at the yacht club, so Paul and Marie
invited us to use Ranger as our home base for the day. We dropped extra bags there, popped into the marine office to register our dinghy to make it “official”. It costs about $23 per week to have yacht club privileges if you are not paying for a slip. For this, you get to use the dinghy dock, bring your trash ashore and put it in their bins that are hopefully disposed of properly, and you get a key to the bathrooms and showers. There is one other place to leave a dinghy, but they say it is not
safe. The yacht club is totally safe, so it is worth the money.

When we arrived at Ranger, it was almost time for the first VHF radio contact with the Port to Port Rally. A man named Kerry on Ef-Jay from Australia is “hosting” the more than twenty boats that will be leaving for Bundaberg from Noumea. Another twenty some are leaving from Port Vila in Vanuatu, and still another fifteen or so are leaving from Luganville in Vanuatu. There are 54 boats in total that are participating in the rally. Tomorrow is the get-to-know party where we will meet the other
boats leaving from Noumea. After that, each boat will make the decision to leave based on weather information. You can leave any time, but the idea is to get to Bundaberg by October 31. It is a seven-day passage, give or take a day or two depending on boat speed. Based on our weather research to date, we are thinking of leaving on Monday afternoon. But that could change, probably will change, so stay tuned on that one.

As you leave the very new and modern Port Moselle Yacht Club, the first sights you see in the city are two tributes to America. One is the American Memorial to those Americans who gave their lives during World War II. Over 40,000 American troops were stationed in Noumea and according to the Lonely Planet, many Noumeans still feels a strong attachment to Americans for their contribution in ushering in a period of modernization. Right across the street is MacDonald’s, another American monument that
is found in most countries in the South Pacific. Our next stop was an internet cafe, one of our favorite stops when we come to “civilization” as we know it. This is not, necessarily, what we think civilization should be, just the reality of what it is. That editorial comment out of the way, we indulged in high speed internet access. I checked the website and deleted the hundreds of spam emails that are sent our way, sifting through to find the legitimate comments. We had a couple of interesting
emails in response to my question about whether we should be using paper or cloth napkins and we appreciate that input. We had some questions that I will answer in the next two or three logs or will send personal replies when I get a chance. A man from Australia who is thinking about buying an island in the Maskelynes in Vanuatu got my attention. To those of you who write to the website, we just want you to know how much we appreciate and enjoy your comments. After I finished checking out the
website, I started checking out new weather sites. MetVu in New Zealand doesn’t cover the Australian coast, so it was time to check out Australian sites. The Australian government and the US Navy won the awards for best weather sites today, so we will be using those sources over the next few days to help us pinpoint a departure time. While I was doing this, Mark was updating our finances, or lack there of, on Quicken, paying bills online, downloading our landbased gmail account, and searching
for a good deal on tickets for our flight home from Australia. Before we knew it, it was almost 1 PM and definitely time for lunch. Marie of Ranger was also in the internet cafe, so she went with us as we searched for a place to eat. Cheap is always good, but we ended up in a semi-cheap Asian snack bar. We had a good shrimp curry with rice and then continued the day. Mark went back to the internet cafe to continue to look for flights while Marie and I visited the Office du Tourisme de Noumea
et de la Province Sud, better known as the ‘i’ center. A young man was very helpful and informed us about a package deal on seeing all four museums in the area as well as the aquarium and botanical gardens and zoo for only $17. Not a bad deal. And there is a bus that runs from one of these venues to the other all day long. We will probably visit the six locations over the next three days, interspersed with getting ready for the passage to Australia. A little work, a little play.

After our visit to the tourist information center, Marie went back to the yacht club and I went back to the internet cafe. The cheapest tickets Mark is coming up with are more than $2,000 each, but I guess that is going to be as good as it gets. We did got to a travel agency, but they were more expensive than the prices we are getting on the web. We’d had enough of flight searching for one day, so we went back to the yacht club to get ready for the evening activity. Each Thursday evening in the
Place des Cocotiers, the park in the center of downtown Noumea, a street market takes place. Each week there is a different theme, and this week it was Vanuatu. There were traditional dances, music, booth after booth of Vanuatu arts and crafts, and lots of food booths. It was great fun and we even made some purchases of things that we wished we had bought in Vanuatu and didn’t. We topped the evening off with French waffles topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Yummy!