Thursday, October 29, 2015

Heading to Petit Paris!

Something always needs attention on deck during a storm!
New Caledonia along with French Polynesia is the other French Territoire d’outre-Mer in the Pacific Ocean. It is 20 degrees south of the equator which makes it Tropical, but the climate is slightly cooler. Yet it has the feel of the tropics with the white sand beaches, coconut palm trees and coral reefs. Actually, some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in the Loyalty Islands just 50 nm east of the main island of Grande Terre.

So for the cruiser who has been in the remote authentic Melanesian islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia is a wonderful place with French bread, cheeses, wine and pastries! The French believe in making fresh baguettes several times a day so there is always fresh bread. And they don’t keep it from day to day like we have to on the boat. There are no preservatives so it a challenge to keep it from molding.
Unfortunately, we only get a chance to buy it when we are near a market – which isn’t very often unless we are in a main port.

This is a little stronger than I like. 18-20 knots is just fine!
I am looking forward to buying some of the things I discovered here last year: Casino cappuccino, Orangina in large bottles, fresh prawns and a lot more. Of course, I will have to wait until I get back to Noumea for most of these items. I will be stocking up as there are things you learn to love in one country only to never find it again! Before heading to Australia, I will get quantities of things I want for the second half of this journey. Of course, I must be careful that what I buy will not be confiscated by the biosecurity cops in Oz (Australia, as it is known out here in the islands and New Zealand).
I saw it coming when day turned to night!
And it was only 3:45 PM and sunny.
We had a lovely sail for the first afternoon and night. The steady winds continued in the morning and we continued to sail along at 18-20 knots without much lumpiness. Trillium loves this kind of wind, especially when it is ahead of the beam. She flies!

I was really enjoying the trip until I noted the black sky ahead. Suddenly it seemed like nighttime in the middle of the afternoon. The winds leapt up to 25 knots with higher gusts and then it started to rain. Dennis came up to give me a hand and we turned on the radar. There we were in the middle of three squalls! We were hit by one and managed to skirt by the other two with minimal gusts and little rain. Of course, something on deck needed attention so he clipped on and went out to take care of it! I surely can't do that!

Our first landfall will be on Lifou in the Loyalty Islands. Since we must clear in with Customs, Immigration and BioSecurity first, we have rejoined the Island Cruising Club’s Pacific Circuit Rally, which we highly recommend as a way to see places throughout the South Pacific cruising season. Lyn and John Martin have a great program and are fun people with whom to rally! They enjoy beach fires, singing and fun and games so their program has something for everyone. And their personalities are delightful – plus they sail along with the entire fleet throughout the rally.

Are you having fun yet? Still?
Even though the Loyalties are near New Caledonia and part of the government, they are different in terrain and racial composition. The islands are not mountainous, if fact, they are more like atolls. The people are Melanesian. The national language is French, but the local language with a French twist is spoken in the villages.

I failed to learn French even though I promised myself I would after last year’s visit to New Caledonia. I have been working on it with my Rosetta Stone program, but I did not start soon enough. And I am a bit intimidated with the pronunciation! At least I can now understand some of the words and will be a little better at reading menus and grocery labels.

Check out the red areas. We are in the center of the circle
under the biggest squall at 4 PM with two more ahead!
The passage from Port Vila, Vanuatu to Lifou, Loyalty Island is an overnight sail if you leave really early, have good wind and can make it into the anchorage with good light. Since we were the last to leave Port Vila (for a number of reasons), we decided to make it a two night passage to arrive in really good light conditions since we had not been here and the entry has to be right on the way points. It was actually a nice passage. I had a few moments of concern – if you know what I mean, but held it to just queasiness.

The reason we were late leaving Vanuatu was that the entire fleet used up all of the fuel at the fuel dock and we had to wait along with Caduceus and Heat Wave for the fuel truck. And of course, by the time they filled up, it was time to close the fuel dock for the day. Not that the operators wanted to make one more sale before leaving for the day! That would be against island protocol – or whatever you may call it. Not too many enterprising people in the islands!

The morning after sunrise on my 5 AM watch.
The plus was that we had more time to do our duty-free shopping and pick up Pacific francs for New Caledonia money. Needing different money in every country becomes a challenge in itself. First you have to find a bank that has money for the next country before you head out. Then you have to recalculate the USD exchange rate so you know what you are spending in the new currency. And hopefully, you have very little, if any, of the previous country's currency left when you leave. Oh, yes! Then there is the issue of the currency being out of date! That's right! Several of these islands have updated their currency since last year so we have money that is no longer in circulation!

Of course, we restocked with wine and liquor. The price was so right: $13 USD for a liter of Absolut! It was a good time to try some of the expensive single malts - not for me, though. And I benefited the most being my birthday AND duty-free! Put two and two together and think about something lovely in iridescent grey that goes around your neck! And it happens to be Tahitian with pedigree papers. As Dennis admits, he doesn't always do gifts. But when he does ... Lucky me!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you here. You can see earlier posts at