New Caledonia to Australia - verse

New Caledonia-Verse

It´s a bit of a slog from Port Vila
Until the pass in the reef
Which we slither through at 9 plus knots
(Then slow down to our relief)

There´s a place to tie up at Port Moselle
Which is right near the heart of town
A 5 minute walk to the market
And some restaurants of renown

Chez Toto´s is our favourite one
Then Au P´tit Café
A patisserie and coffee stop
Is scheduled every day

We walk in the Latin quarter
We try the boulangerie
We enjoy the sound of spoken French
(The admiral perfects “Ah oui”)

This time we are there for Prue and Bob
But Bob´s copybook has some blots
For despite last year´s certificate
He´s gone and forgotten his knots

Still, we have a good week at the Ile des Pins
We anchor in Kuto Bay
Then at Port Vao and Ilot Moro
(Which we´re pleased to leave early next day)

Then we sail up the coast to Uro
Where Meridian has its resort
Go swimming in the piscine naturelle
It´s refreshing as well as good sport

We enjoy our time in Noumea
But we´re ready to leave because
The smell of home´s in our nostrils
We´re heading back to Oz

It´s a 5 day trip to Bundaberg
And at first it´s pretty rough
Now it settles down, we´re enjoying it
But we think this will be enough

We arrive to quite dismal conditions
Sandy Cape doesn´t seem to be there
But we´ve made it around the world (in 8 years)(Yippee)
And Impulsive has done it with flair

She can have a good rest up at Hamilton
Take it easy for a while
Then with family and friends to entertain
She´ll be there with her verve and style


New Caledonia

23th. August, 2013
Our introduction to Noumea begins with a special French provincial style dinner at Chez Toto in the latin quarter, with pate de la champagne , foie gras, saucissons in a lively sauce and wahoo. Included is a good cote du Rhone red and warm friendly service.

Today our private tour guide (Ross) leads us around Noumea. We begin at the extensive market with fresh orange juice and patisseries, followed by coffee. Thank goodness we lose weight when we are sailing!
The Museum of New Calendonia – Recreates past and present ways of life
Latin quarter and found a good patisserie
Place des Cotiers
A bus to a colonial mansion on a hill overlooking Noumea (picnic lunch in the gardens bought in a boulangerie)
Museum of New Caledonia
The Maritime museum – including an account of the early voyages in the area and an exhibition of La Pelouse’ fateful voyage.

Later tonight Prue and Bob arrive so we are looking forward to catching up with them tomorrow.
We enjoy another wonderful French dinner at Marmite restaurant  over the hill in the south harbour.

Chief's hut - museum of New Caledonia

Local flowers - antherium

Local wine shop - there are restricted hours at the supermarket for buying alcohol

Unassuming frontage of Chez Toto restaurant

Colonial mansion - Celeries

The old Customs House

Ouen Toro
Sunday is a glorious day. Prue and Bob want to explore Noumea so we take a spectacular bus trip around the coast with its picturesque bays lined with beaches to Ouen Toro. The walk here up to the peak has many spots to view over the surrounding islands, and the many boats out enjoying the magnificent waters.file://localhost/Users/Susan/Desktop/IMG_1842.JPG
We also spend time organizing Impulsive. We hope to leave tomorrow morning.

Monday , 26th. August
It is lovely to have Prue and Bob on board with us again. They join us ready to leave for the Isle des Pins.
Unfortunately because of the weekend we have had to wait to have a few boat issues checked and fixed. It is soon apparent that we will need to wait another day so we can get there in good light. We are all very relaxed about this and settle in for a quiet day.
We hope to provision mainly at the market but have been wrongly informed and find it is closed. However the supermarket is open and is very well stocked.

The boat issues are:
1.Rubber  is perished on the gasket on the sea water inlet (this would have caused problems with the toilets)
2. The connection on the seawater pump is corroded
3. The bracket on the fridge compressor is broken
4. The mast light
5.The connections for the Raymarine equipment are checked.
6. We find evidence of being anchored near the volcano with small pumice on the deck and fine, dark debris in the seawater strainer. Apparently several boats have suffered this.

We have a delicious classical French dinner at La Chaumiere with its traditional old colonial architecture. Prue enjoys speaking French here.

Tuesday, 27th. August

We start the day well with coffee and coissants at the market for breakfast and head off at 0900 hours. The forecast is fine with 11 kt winds. However it is actually12-15 kt. winds E/SE so we are not able to sail for the 6 hours we track up the western side of the island to Baie de Prony. 
There is lots of evidence of the open nickel mining which is the island’s main resource. Unfortunately this causes  devastation to the landscape and the vegetation.
There has been a lot of opposition from the local Kanaks to try to protect their environment and culture.

The beautiful and calm anchorage tonight is at Ile Casy in this bay. It is a beautiful small island but with a poor holding over old coral (it is written up as a reasonable anchorage). 
  It is disappointing to see the small resort here has closed down. It has obviously been a lovely place to stay with its architecturally attractive colonial cottages. We enjoy the walk along some of its white sand beaches and through its luxuriant and diverse forest with many lovely views. A very friendly large and well fed dog bounds along with us so there must be someone living here but we see no signs of them.

Wednesday, 28th. August
We leave at 6am to track cross across to Ile des Pins in as calm a sea as possible. We are disappointed and surprised as it is very rough as Impulsive slaps into “short” waves. There are only 15kts. of wind in an E/ESE direction. These conditions are mainly caused by the favouring current into the wind. It takes us 7 ½ hours to reach Kuto and we anchor in the lovely protected haven at Baie de Kuto. There are some resident turtles
Ross going to top of mast to check the mast light
Baie de Kunumura

We walk across the narrow neck of land to the Baie de Kunumura. In the warm, late afternoon sun this seems like a magical place to be. The small island here is sacred and we are not permitted to go there even in low tide with its exposed sandbar.

Sunset at Kuto

After a very pleasant dinner of fresh lobster ashore we have “the dinghy incident”. At 10pm as Bob is partially in the dinghy he manages to do an elegant reverse roll (ie backroll with half twist) into the sea. He says he has told the truth of the incident but he now can’t remember how it happened! He now claims he slipped and fell out. In his defence he says Enid Blyton stated that every seventh wave is a big one. 

Early Thursday morning we climb up the track to the top of Ile des Pins. The 360 degree views from the top are sensational of the surrounding islands with their characteristic tall and slender pine trees and the seas with their varied and magnificent colours.

Local grevillea

More local flowers
Walking up the track and view back over Kuto
View over the south of Iles des Pins
Prue and Bob at the top
Coming ashore at Port de Vao - Ross, Prue and Bob
Later we motor SW out to port de Vao in shelter opposite Vao village at Ile Kutomo. It’s a long dinghy ride across the bay to Vao which is distinctive with its large attractive C19 church and the small chapel above it. As you arrive on shore there is a statue of Christ surrounded by wooden carved totem poles.
Port de Vao
The houses are attractive set in their well tended gardens, using netted fishing buoys as artefacts. This seems indicative of a calm , unstressed and happy place.

The following morning we track across to Ile Moro east of Kuto. This is a small coral island surrounded by reef so we enter the very narrow pass and anchor in the lagoon on the leeward side of the island. This is a protected day visitor’s site set up in the forest near a white sandy beach. We are not really at ease to swim here because we see many black and yellow striped see snakes. It is fascinating to see them come out of the sea and glide up the sand and then up into the tropical forest. These snakes are very poisonous but are shy and have tiny heads and jaws so can only bite very small and thin objects.
Late afternoon the only other yacht here leaves. As we are going to bed the wind comes up to 23 kts (10-15 kts. is forecast). Ross decides we should take anchor watch during the night because the reef is close to the boat and we don’t trust the anchor alarm in this situation. The wind drops at 2330 hours so he has some sleep until it blows up again at 0400 hours. This is a popular little island apparently but it isn’t our favourite.
We up anchor at 7am when we can see the reef easily with the sun behind us and head back to Kuto, a sun bathed, well protected haven.
Now today is a relaxed day and we treat ourselves to a special lunch and dinner shore,
looking over the 2 idyllic bays here. Swimming here in the pristine aqua and turquoise waters and enjoying the white sandy beaches is a treat.
The old prison ruins at Bagne  date from the mid C19. It is rather chilling to walk through these buildings. Criminals were sent here from France, and later political prisoners.
Ross checking the water supplies of the prison

The old prison
Sunday, 1st. September
We would like to go up the west coast of Ile des Pins but even though we have the suggested way points plotted to do so some of the depths give us some concern so we decide to track up the east coast.
Today is Father’s day so there are phone calls and messages coming in during the day for Ross and Bob.
We wake to a calm morning and with a suitable forecast of 10-15 kts. with SE winds so we up anchor and track E across the southern coast of Ile des Pins with ½ kt. and up to 3 kts. of favourable current with 8.2 kts SOG as we approach Passe Ndju
And then up the e.coast to Baie de Ugo (Baie d’Oro). We have the mainsail up at the start and later the headsail but it is quite rolly tracking up the east coast with the sun glistening off the sea. The vegetation looks very sparse along this coastline, but is dense forest inland here apparently.
We anchor at  Baie d’Oro which needs attentive spotting by the crew of the reefs – thankyou Prue and
Bob. They also spot some dolphins.

There is a long white sandy beach here. We take the dinghy ashore and walk along the waterway from the Meridien resort through to La Piscine Naturelle, a pool of turquoise water protected behind a reef. Swimming here is unusually refreshing it seems with some restorative effect.
The bay here is very picturesque lined with  hundreds of araucaria pines to the east and enclosed by reef to the west. Reclining on the beach in the late afternoon is very relaxing, followed by one of Ross’ favourite dinners, salad nicoise,  on board.

Monday 2nd. September
We take Prue and Bob ashore to the Meridien resort where they plan to stay for a few days. We have had a wonderful week with them on board, and lots of fun. They have been enthusiastic followers of our trip. This is the third time they been with us. They have left us a good bottle of champagne to enjoy when we get back to Australia.

We have all enjoyed Iles des Pins very much. It is very impressive how despite its many tourist attractions it has not been spoiled by developments and has kept in keeping with its environment.
There are very few opportunities to buy provisions. All we buy is a bagette. We are told it is very busy during school holidays.

We need to up anchor by 0845 hours so we can reach the Passage de Sarcelle with the slack tide at 1500 hours. Even with poloroids and standing on the saloon roof  it is difficult to see the reef without the sun behind us and the sky is heavy with clouds. It is a great help we came in here yesterday and can remember our return route.
It is very calm with 9-10 kts. of wind as we track across the north coast of Iles des Pins with the headsail up outside the reef.
We average 6 kts. with a variable current so take in the headsail to come inside the reef– with 1.5 kts. with us, then 1 kt. against us. We track into the Woodin Chanel and drop the anchor at Baie Ire. This is an excellent anchorage with a red mud bottom. It has a typical New Caledonian red sand beach. There has been a lot of nickel mining in this area with its associated devastation to the landscape.

Baie Ire

Everywhere we can see mountains with their vivid reds in contrast with the lush greens of the vegetation. 80 percent of the plants are endemic. 
It has been noticeably cooler in New Caledonia, with the day temperature averaging 20 degrees. It is lovely dry weather with no humidity at this time of the year. We had to find a light blanket last night!

We leave early this morning to track west back to Port Moselle.  As we leave there is a 3 kt. current against us coming through the Woodin Chanel so with 1800 revs. we are only making 2.8 kts. SOG. Once through this we put the headsail up and average 6.5 kts. SOG. with 18 kts. just W of S. It is very lumpy as it was when we went in the opposite direction. Fortunately there is a spare berth in the marina.

Our plan is to attend to couple of boat issues, refuel, provision, vote for the Federal election at the Australian embassy and wait for the right weather window to set out for our 5 day crossing to Australia. Hopefully we can enjoy some more French cuisine.
We thoroughly enjoy the french influence which is very obvious here with their language, cuisine at some of the restaurants, patisseries and some chic shops. 
It´s also been fun to have our basic french understood occasionally.We enjoy being back in Noumea for a couple of days. We are excited to be preparing Impulsive for our final 5 days sail to Bundaberg to check in at customs. Quarantine is very strict in Australia so we provision just for these days to avoid having to throw food out.
We catch up with people we met here last week, and have a lovely surprise when David and Sheryl come in late on our last day here. We have a fun night with them and a few other yachties on our last night before heading for Australia It seems like a special occasion.
Bruce, who has been our weather guru for our ocean crossings , is away so we organize with Scott that we will get regular weather updates from Passage weather from him. There is a good weather window for us to leave but it will be reassuring to check the situation regularly.

Seen off by David, Sheryle, Bowen and Jan

Letting go the ropes in Noumea

Thursday 4th. September

David and Sheryl help us let go the ropes and we set off at 1030 hours for the 785 n.miles crossing to Australia. We are ready and excited to be making our final ocean crossing for the trip.
Once through the outside reef the winds are as forecast – S,SE to S,E mainly up to 20 kts. but sometimes up to 30kts, with a 3 m. swell and a rough, short sea.
We need to leave today with this forecast for the next 2 days and then with the winds dropping off for the last 3 days because there is a forecast ahead for a deep low out of Coff’s harbour next Tuesday and we want to be safely moored at Bundaberg before this comes through. We have to check in to Australia on the coast and Bundaberg suits our program best.
We sail averaging 6.5kts., sometimes bringing the headsail into half its size. Tonight is the first time this season we have had a simple pasta dinner on our knees because it is so rough.
Twice the autopilot fuses out as Impulsive comes off the big waves. We have to steer her manually for a while when this happens. It reminds us how advantageous it is to have this equipment. It would be exhausting to have to steer at the helm for a 5 day trip like this. There are 30 kt. winds on one of these occasions.
Night watch is exhausting because the winds are so variable in strength and direction. It seems like a long night and we feel we still have such a long way to go. We sail mostly through the night with some motor sailing when the winds drop off occasionally.

Friday, 6th. September
We are both tired today and have sleep to catch up on but we are also in good spirits because we have the N.E. coast of Australia now showing on the chart plotter. It is still 575 n.miles to go to the waypoint but we are making progress. We feel more positive this morning.
Today has been much the same, so uncomfortable with a gyrating type of movement, and tiring, but at least  the winds are in the right direction.
Tonight the wind settles as forecast coming round towards E but more on the port quarter, with 20-25 kts. and then 20 kts. This is much more comfortable.

Today is a bright, sunny day with winds E/SE and down to 20 kts. We are running with just the mainsail because Ross decides we don’t need to be worrying about being overpowered with poling out the spinnaker pole.
It is a cam night but very dark again because there is no moon.

Sunday, 8th. September
Ross discovers some damage in the furling line, just a small area of wear and tear. He is able to repair it.
After a cloudy and overcast start to the day with a little rain the sun comes out and sparkles over the ocean. This makes us feel warmer and more motivated to do odd jobs on Impulsive. We also have time to read, and Ross has taken to doing crosswords.
We are averaging 6.5 kts.  The winds are changeable but basically in the E and S.E. At one stage they came up and blew 25 kts. from N.NE. We can see a few birds flying about even though there are nearly 3oo n.miles to go. This is a sign of good weather.

After another calm night with just a glimpse of the new moon and the sky filled with bright shining stars

Monday, 9th. September
With the following winds Ross wants to pole out the headsail today but discovers  this isn’t possible because the  furling rope “box” is broken. It must have been under heavy pressure recently for this to have happened.
The winds then become very fluky and much lighter, as forecast, so we bring in the mainsail to save it thwacking and maybe getting damaged. We are fortunate the winds are not against us.
We receive Scott’s final weather report this evening. They have been expertly done and we found it very reassuring to receive these updates. Scott crossed the Atlantic with us so appreciates the importance of these.
The seas are calm again and hopefully will remain this way through the night, for our final night watches. We are very excited as we head towards Sandy Cape and plan to round it in the morning to track our final 42 n.miles to Bundaberg.

Somehow we feel it is a bad omen to talk about plans ahead until we reach Australia but now we are so close we are. Basically we are both thrilled to soon be home taking with us all our wonderful memories of the experiences we have had during our last 8 sailing seasons.

The conditions change and later tonight we have contrasts of uncomfortable winds followed by favourable winds. As usual they are stronger than Passage weather predict. Just as we are congratulating ourselves on having a smooth passage in, the difficult and variable winds come up .

Ross tying on the preventer when the wind comes round to the N.E. instead of  S. E.

Tuesday, 10th. September

This morning the winds come up strongly to over 20 kts. from N.E, then N, and then N.W none of which are very suitable and makes for rough tracking. (The forecast this morning is for 5-10 kts from various directions).
It is disappointing to wake up to a cold, dull and rainy morning. Of course we are expecting it to be warm and sunny. The sky eventually clears and it is a lovely day.

How do we feel coming into Bundaberg?
Seeing the Australian coastline is very moving.
Once we are tied up we are both thrilled to have completed our circumnavigation and have a great sense of achievement. Thankyou to my wonderful skipper for bringing us home safely and for giving us such a wonderful adventure together.
What a lovely time we have had on Impulsive which has proved to be a most reliable yacht. We feel a great attachment to her.

There is more excitement to follow with Steve, Megs and their children coming to meet us at Hamilton Island to celebrate the end of our circumnavigation. We have decided to leave the boat here as we feel we will have more use with her here than in Melbourne.

Our favourite recipe this leg:
Risotto aux Moules
1.5ks. green shell mussels

Heat (spray on) oil in large pan
Add finely chopped sml. spanish onion; stir until translucent
Add arborio rice (1 large mug) and stir
Add 1 cup white wine
Gradually add vegetable stock until rice is al dente
Add 1/2 jar "tomato relish" (it has some chill through it) and stir through the rice
Add the mussels until cooked

Serve with green salad and coleslaw (using a small red cabbage)