Lat 22 degrees 21.4 minutes S
Long 166 degrees 50.5 minutes E
This seems to be "the" spot for the young of Noumea to head to for the weekend. We had a few peaceful days here and then on Friday, water taxis arrived with lots of campers – complete with tents, coolers and bikinis. It seemed that one large group were participants in some type of "survivor" type competitions – broken into teams. There was lots of cheering, bullhorns for communicating and music. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. We also had the chance to finally meet Eric and Ann from the catamaran "Reflection." They were the "go to" people in Vanuatu for information. They were working with the Vanuatu government developing tourism amongst the yachting community and are working on a Vanuatu cruising guide. We had a lovely dinner aboard their boat on Saturday night amongst the background of the festivities ashore (which included lots of singing).
We finally got in the water to do some bottom cleaning – but the water is quite chilly here. Michael spotted a sunken sailboat not far from our mooring ball. Eric and Ann dived it the next morning and reported that it probably had a fire aboard and sunk. There were still pots and pans, the roller furler and head sail and lots of winches and stuff aboard.
On Sunday afternoon, most of the weekend warriors left the island and it was left to the "yachties" on the moorings. On Monday, we did a long walk around the island. The trails are well maintained but it was a bit confusing as we seemed to go from one "color" trail to another without making any turns! At one point we turned off along a marked trail to find it dead-end at the beach. It was a pleasant and relatively easy walk. The beaches were quite lovely and the flora interesting. The trails went through various eco-systems so it is always interesting to see the different formations and plants.
On Tuesday, we let the mooring free and headed deeper into Baie de Prony. We worked our way through what are narrow waterways between the hills and nestled way back in a very pretty and very protected bay. It is flat calm in here (22 18.2S/166 51.4E) with a nice little breeze and lots of bird song. These are very pretty surroundings and only three boats anchored here at the present. The boats seem to come and go – some staying only a few hours and others for days. We took a dinghy tour and found a small fresh water stream amongst some rocks in the mangrove bushes and then went further down the bay towards a river. We anchored the dinghy near a dock and took a nice hike towards the river waterfalls. Perhaps we'll come back and do the laundry! At the top of the dock where we tied, there is a hot (well tepid anyway) tub. It is a large square wooden structure built over a warm spring and the water fills the tub and the overflow goes into the bay. The first day we went here – the tub didn't look very inviting.
The next day, we went back to the dock to take another trail and another hike in the opposite direction. On this trip, the hot tub was much cleaner looking. We think that perhaps someone took baths or perhaps did laundry the tub the day before. The difference was dramatic! We took a hike up the hill this time rather than down towards the river falls. The trails were nice as were the interesting plant life. The reward as we got to the top of a ridge was a dramatic view of the water, the boats at anchor including Astarte, and the narrow fjord-like waterways in the bay.
We've been out of Noumea now over a month – and have had twelve "zero dollar days." We hope to stay out at least through early next week before we head back towards the city. We still have some time to kill before looking for a weather window to New Zealand. Anchoring around Noumea is a little tough and the marina is pretty spendy - so we're hoping to stay away from the city as long as we can.
Apologies about our photo page – we understand there is some problem with it but until we get into a place with internet we can't resolve it!
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