We have been waiting a week for a weather window to get to Australia, which as I expected, is not going to be an easy run. The lows/fronts coming through the Tasman are on a 5 day cycle and our passage is 5-6 days. Even around 25 south, the latest front was very strong, generating very rough seas and a 4-5 meter swell between Noumea and Bundaberg. Not nice!! We have just heard that a mono hull has sunk and a catamaran is drifting, with serious damage off the Queensland coast as a result of the front. We are relieved that everyone is safe but it is a very chilling reminder that we all live such a fragile existence; both on land and at sea.
It appears we have a good window with light breezes for the first 36 hours, then somewhere between 10 and 22 knot SE /E wind which will be on our port quarter or behind us and coming into Bundaberg with a nor'easter. The swell would have dropped down and the next front appears not to be very strong, if at all above 25 south, but on Sat the 3rd Nov, there is another we need to be wary of. We are currently around 22 south and Bundaberg 25 south. We plan to be well in by then.
Given that we have only had two nice sunny, ‘calmish’ days since we have been here, most of what we have done is by land.
On the way in we stopped in Baie de Prony, with its rich ochre coloured hills. We certainly did not find sandy bottoms (rock/shale by the feel of it) and were relieved to find some moorings to ensure a quiet night at anchor.
We managed to sail around and come straight into Port Moselle Marina, Noumea, to clear in. At $30/night all up, it’s very affordable.
We hired a car with Malarkey and did the drive around, even though we could not enjoy the view!
North of the international airport (quite a drive) we found a small marina with a house development nearby, but no restaurant or shops!!
The Cultural Centre was worth a visit…..with some sculptures leaving us wondering.......
with beautiful artwork....
..and some with familiarity..
The aquarium, surprisingly, entertained us for hours. We saw our first frog fish…..very ugly but full of character….when they move!!
The pink frog fish is hiding behind the coral. Not as active as its green mates!
This slug was blinding crawling across anything in its way without any problems!
Lots of food and wine (for some!) to be had. What else is there to do on a Sunday????? Like Peter, Trevor from Malarkey is their premiere chef.
We have also been helping others out with information about SE Asia. Happy to share what we have collected electronically; which is quite a bit!
Ilot Maitre was a good hang out for a few days but it was far too cold to get in the water!
The French have done a great job with moorings provided, even though it is a good anchorage, and a BBQ area for cruisers to use. The windward side of the island has a huge reef extending out and is the place of choice for kite and wind surfers.
The down side is that no-one has told the sea snakes that they have to stay in the water!!
The land was crawling with them, especially the BBQ area as they came for the warmth. They are the third deadliest in the world, but fortunately with a small mouth. Needless to say Peter was not happy and would not stay ashore; especially after dark!!
There are no plastic bags in any of the shops in New Caledonia, which has made a huge difference to the clean water ways. We hope that many other countries in the Pacific will follow.
Being in the land of scrumptious cheese and baguettes, not to mention the boulangeries, being stuck here is not too difficult. They really are THE best ever!!
We know we will lose a little weight on our final passage, which gives us a little room to squeeze in some more yummies!!
Arriving in Bundaberg during the week is a must so we do not have to pay $300 for overtime clearing fees. We have come across the Pacific, paying very little in the way of fees. We have joined the Port2Port Rally so we get our normal clearing fees into Australia refunded. Gone are the days where all is relaxed and we can anchor and wait for a day or so to clear in. C’est la vie.
We have cleared out of New Caledonia and get 3 days to leave, which is a little more relaxing than the 1 official hour in Fiji. We are off to some islands a little north of here to enjoy the last two days, clean the bottom of the boat, before we depart. We have our fingers and toes crossed for a good passage!
However, throughout the Pacific, we have not had consistent trade winds. The only thing that has been consistent is the cross swell and of course the fun!! It certainly has been an awesome 11 months. Now we have almost done the miles, we look forward to a time of day sailing and coastal passages!!! Allons- y!!