Friday, October 23, 2015

Bonjour from New Caledonia

We escaped from Vanuatu. It almost felt as if we earned our residency there. But it was a great four months and we enjoyed it again this season. We left in what looked to be a good weather window that opened up over the weekend. We did our outbound clearances with customs, immigration and the port authorities on Monday. It was a bit more expensive than we anticipated...Vanuatu needs to look at the fees they charge visiting yachts. But we love the country and especially the people.

We fueled and watered up over the weekend and the boat was pretty well organized. After paying our marina bill, picking up last supplies, we left on Tuesday morning at 0820. We motored out of the narrow channel, put up the sails and we were underway for the 300 mile trip to Noumea, New Caledonia.

We had to time our arrival for an incoming tide at the Havannah Pass which can get tricky with wind and a strong current. The wind was predicted to be relatively light and started south-easterly (not ideal) but was projected to become easterly and possibly even northeasterly. Those would be ideal, as we would be heading on a course of about 170 for most of the trip. We made a good deal of south-south westing for the first day – getting the captain, who loves his rhumb line, nervous. We were 31 miles right(NW) of the rhumb line before the winds gave us a slight change to the good. That only lasted a few hours. Though we were able to make it under sail almost the entire way. It was a pretty comfortable passage with slight to moderate seas and only a few light squalls. We were hard on the wind most of the trip and had to keep the speed down a bit to keep Astarte from pounding into the waves. But with the dodgey engine (or maybe its not!!) we were glad we could sail. We had to motor the last ten hours because the wind totally died and the current kept pushing us north and west. That was the interesting thing – over those ten hours, Michael didn't have to add water to the engine it was obviously not leaking water nor overheating. Hmmm.....this marine mystery continues to baffle. But it was good that the engine ran like a champ.

We made it to the pass a little early and because there was less than five knots of wind, we tackled the entrance. It was slow going fighting the outgoing tide – but once inside the tide changed and slowly gave us the advantage. It was Friday and customs and immigration are not opened over the weekend (and close midday on Friday) so we pulled into the Bay of Prony and "Anse Majic" to get a mooring for the night. We'll move up to Noumea on either Sunday or Monday.

Now we have to clean up the offshore boat and make it an inshore vessel again. We should be in New Caledonia for at east a month or so before looking for a good weather window to New Zealand. We can't get to NZ too early because of the six month immigration limitation.

So we get to enjoy croissants, baguettes and french wine. Cheers.
At 10/22/2015 6:56 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 22°09.22'S 167°07.98'E

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