A short comment on Anatom, Vanuatu........ it is the clearest water we have seen so far in the Pacific, and by far the best coral; variety of hard and soft coral and colour. Most notable was the amount of fish life....lots of large fish, turtles and the rest. We saw a huge Pharmacy fish with its big brown eyes, hiding under a ledge. They are so beautiful. Being a marine park has done well to preserve this environment. The island has no vehicles; just small villages.
The last 70 miles into New Caledonia over night ended up being a stunning night with mostly clear skies and a NE/N wind around 15 knots, allowing us to sail at around 6 to 7 knots and gain some time to enter the pass. The seas remained less than 1 meter, and the wind died, so all was well!
We could not have had a better entry into Havannah Pass if we planned it with the right information!!! It was a little hit and miss with the conflicting information we had. 20 miles out, having current with us for the first time in a while, we knew it had to be the flood into the pass. First light was just after 0415 as we came in. Only one of the lead lights was working, but our charts were spot on and with a little bit of light, we could spot the Japanese fishing trawler on the southern reef and the Phare light gave us the boundary of the starboard reef. We had 4 knots with us as we entered the pass between the reef with no over falls. Otherwise we had around 2 knots of current with us.
We first thought that coming into the pass at slack water at the end of the ebb was the optimal time, however this would give you negative current from 20 miles or so out. So coming in with the flood just happened to be lucky!! Better to be born more lucky than rich????????????
It appeared that HW at the pass was in fact 1 hour after HW Noumea. It is VERY important to get through the pass with little wind otherwise you are in for a wild time. Two other yachts who were behind us had a terrible time with 20 to 25 knot head wind and over falls with strong currents. One yacht hove to outside the passage for the night and had a very rough night. We spoke to a kiwi who came in with a 4m sea and 30 knots of wind behind him......he was broaching several times and found it difficult to get out of the large standing waves. Sounded positively dangerous with the reefs either side.
We came into anchor in Baie De Prony..beautiful and quiet. Noumea tomorrow before the front hits. Timing is everything.
Since January this year we have sailed a little over 9,000 nm. Almost the same as our tour of the Indian Ocean, however, the Pacific has been a lot more challenging. We have managed to come thus far without running into a front, active convergence zone, an active trough or the SPCZ! (South Pacific Convergence Zone). Of the two lightening storms we have seen, we have been tucked away and out of sight!!! No easy feat!
We are somewhat hoping (but doubtful) we will get to Bundaberg without crossing a front or convergence zone as the weather pattern is now changing. Maybe a front will be less likely as the lows should start dropping further south now summer is approaching. We have David and Patricia who operate Gulf Harbour Radio (NZ) with excellent weather forecasting and offer a good back up to choosing our weather window. Bundy is some 770 miles from Noumea.
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