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Pantaenius 2022 - SAIL & POWER 1 LEADERBOARD ROW

Freedom and Adventure: Exploring New Caledonia

by Andrew & Clare Payne 18 Sep 11:51 UTC

What have we been doing?

We spent two weeks in Port Moselle Marina in Noumea, New Caledonia. We did not anticipate the damage to Andrew's leg, after his fishing mishap, would take so long to mend. We thought when the final stitches came out on 2nd September we would be free to leave. But no, more trips to the Doctor until eventually I was taught how to treat and dress the wound and given enough dressings to last till next Monday 19th September. At this point we will return to the Doctor for appraisal. In the meantime Andrew has to stay out of the water, which he is finding rather frustrating.

Out and about in Nouméa

We hired a car, along with our Aussie mates Liam and Annie, and drove around Noumea calling in, of course, to all the Ship Chandlers and the large Carefour Supermarket for supplies. The choice of things to buy is a massive step up from Vanuatu. Noumea is a modern French City with lovely beach front apartments, restaurants, shops and with manicured parks and walkways. We also noticed a vast difference between the Kanaks in Noumea and the N-Vans of Port Vila. The Kanaks in Noumea are less than half the population in a French protectorate where as the N-Vans in Vanuatu are the majority of the population in their own republic.

Escape to freedom

We left the Marina on 9th September and made our way down to Prony Bay which is about forty miles away on the southern end of New Caledonia. It was absolutely wonderful to be out on the water again enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and the tranquillity. We were in company with Liam and Annie on Gone with the Wind. Our destination was L'ile Des Pins which is a further forty miles south of Prony Bay and generally a sail into the wind. We stayed one night in Prony Bay and took off early the following morning and motored in glass calm water to L'ile Des Pins. Motoring is not our preferred option but it is better than bashing into head winds. We were glad to take this opportunity for a quiet trip.

Beautiful L'ile Des Pins

The L'ile Des Pins is a very pretty island with plenty of Pine trees, as you might guess by the name. We anchored in flat water in Kuto Bay and enjoyed four terrific days exploring the island. Once again we hired a car and circumnavigated the island taking in the fresh market, the church, the 19th century jail and convict cemetery, a wood carving shop and a very nice grotto.

The jail was fairly overgrown but it struck us that like Tasmania, this island would have been a perfect destination for a jail. Beautiful and all as it is, the island is a long way from anywhere and no chance of escape.

In the wood work shop the local men were busy carving totem poles with a hammer and chisel, These are proudly displayed at the resorts and businesses throughout the island.

The Kanaks on L'ile Des Pins are more friendly and relaxed than their city counterparts. French is their second language so it is a little difficult for us to have a conversation. However it is interesting how much we seem to get across, then again we could be kidding ourselves:).

We had lunch at one of the resorts and caught up with emails etc. We failed miserably trying to get across that we wanted a flat white coffee. We were served a short black, then a long black and then eventually a half warm flat white. Sugar would have been nice, but..

The small market was a hoot, the sellers were focused on chattering and having a social day out. Nobody was manning the store where we were trying to purchase some greens. A great delay occurred whilst some hailing and a search for the store keeper ensued. Eventually she came scurrying out from the toilet, problem solved.

The highlight of the trip was the grotto. Deep in the tropical forest amongst a profusion of lush plants. Many of these plants growing wild are only considered as indoor plants in Australia. The grotto itself is a large cave with a statue of Mary, The Mother of God set up high.

A truly lovely setting with stalactites in abundance and crystal clear water bubbling over rocks and a pebbly river bed. Such a tranquil spot and it is always a treat to see lush greenery when sailing for months on blue oceans.

Champagne sailing

We left L'ile Des Pins yesterday and had a great beam reach sail for 38 miles in 12 knots of breeze to Islet Ua. On the way we caught a large Mahi Mahi, this time without incident thank goodness. We have put away seven meals from this beauty. Good thing because our protein supply was down to 250 grams of mince beef.

Islet Ua is a very small island with stunning scenery. Lovely thick white sand and clear water. We enjoyed drinks on the beach last night with Liam and Annie and watched the sun set, totally at peace with the world.

So what's next

We plan to have drinks on the beach again tonight, We will go in early enough to walk around the islet at low tide. We believe there is a big eagle's nest around the other side, so we will check that out.

Tomorrow we will continue on our journey back to Noumea for Andrew's next Doctor's appointment. We are having a wonderful time and Noumea is a beautiful island. So until next time, stay safe and our love to all.

This article has been provided courtesy of the Freedom and Adventure.

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