Thursday, November 12, 2015

OMG! It Takes My Breath Away!

Love at first sight!
We just completed a day sail of about 60 nm from Lifou to Atoll D'Ouvea, just a little northwest. Approaching the island looks like the approach to every other island: hills or mountains covered with trees, surf breaking on the reefs and few beaches. Usually, we are approaching from the east so we are on the windward side of the island. The windward side is also usually wetter and has more vegetation as the rain falls when it approaches the island. Since the waves slap against that side as well, there is more erosion, rocky areas and places not to meet unexpectedly – like rocks awash. The windward side tends not to have nice beaches and that is also where you find a lot of trash washed ashore.
The most beautiful beach in the world! So far...
Once we entered the passage into the leeward side of the island – the west side, we saw the most beautiful long white sandy beach and the stunning cerulean blue water. It was even more beautiful than Lifou!
This island is actually an atoll with a huge lagoon. In fact, it is so big that changes in the wind necessitate relocating one’s anchorage from time to time. That is not a problem because there are miles of beach and numerous places to anchor. All beautiful!
We chose to anchor at the northern end of Ile Muli, but still south of the resort Paradis d’ Ouvea so the beach was empty. The location was 200 42.470 S / 1660 26.673 E near Cap Kekine. We have been sailing with S/V Chez Nous and S/Y Darramy, both had been working with Sea Mercy in Vanuatu.
I have never seen so many different kinds of sea shells.
Donna and Jonathan live on S/V Chez Nous, a catamaran, and are from Florida, although he is a Brit. Sue and Brian, also Brits, are on a monohull and have been cruising for 11 years! It is fun to hear the stories of those who have been out a while. S/V Chez Nous was in the World ARC with us and dropped out when we did. They are planning another year – or more – in the South Pacific before heading west. Who knows where S/Y Darramy is going and when after they land on the shores of Australia!
I think I have found paradise right here in the Loyalties. Atol d’ Ouvea is now my favorite stop! It will take a mighty special place to top it. I will have to see what the islands in the Indian Ocean bring to view, but it will be a challenge to beat this one. I couldn’t wait to get on the beach to wiggle my toes in the water and sand and walk. This is what I enjoy most for exercise.

Note the little burrow in the sand ...
We spent several days at this anchorage and walked the beach, collecting shells as we went. We enjoyed a game of boule (or is it bowl – I can’t be sure with the British accent) with the other two boats. It is like bocce ball, but it doesn’t roll in the sand so you have to toss it. The metal balls are quite heavy, too. It became a real competition between boat teams! Then we rented bicycles to ride to the nearest town to seek bread! Donna joined Dennis and me. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years – it does come back to you, thankfully.

It is a hermit crab pretending we can't see him!
After about three kilometers, we asked – at least, we tried to ask – a local where for directions to a store: marche, magazine, casino? All we got was a wave of an arm suggesting that we keep going that way – the way we were headed.

After another two kilometers, we asked another person. The answer was the same: a wave of the arm in the direction we were heading! After another kilometer or so, Donna and I decided we needed to turn back or our legs would not get us back if we continued on. Dennis was determined to find a store so he kept going!

Does anyone know where the store is? Or speak French?
Donna and I eventually made it back to the resort to turn in our bikes. The thigh-burn and rubber legs let us know we had made the right decision. We now required some painkillers – rum and coke for her and a Margarita for me! Since Dennis had the keys to the dinghy and boat, what else could we do? Girls gotta do what girls gotta do!

Dennis finally returned just before the sun was lowering in the sky. He had gone another six or seven kilometers and did not find bread. He found some chocolate filled rolls, though! Leave it to him to hone in on chocolate.

You just never know what you might see when you
go off exploring in these lovely islands.

And he found a ride back in a truck! So we all pedaled about the same distance. As we boarded the dinghy, Donna was still in agony. My neck hurt from looking ahead from the position the handlebars created. Dennis was fine – just a little weak in the legs. I guess we need to ride more often. Later when I called Donna on the VHF, Jonathan said she was in traction! Very funny! She was in pain.

How do you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?
When we stopped at S/V Chex Nous, the sun was starting to set and it looked like it may be a green flash. We all climbed up on the top of the catamaran’s roof deck to watch. Fabulous! It was like a double green flash! There was a bar of green just above the sun and then one at the water. I had never seen one like this before. Of course, you cannot capture the exact moment on film – darn! Let’s see, is that number 19 or 20? Or is it number 20 and 21?
Measurement had to be exact in this hot contest!
This beautiful place provided a much needed “vacation” from all the work we had done for two months in Vanuatu. It seems during that time that we never stopped to rest. This is our reward: Ouvea!
Note to my French speaking friends: I don’t know how to put the accents on the words with the computer. If you know, please email or message me on Facebook.

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