We settled into life at anchor again and remember what a pleasure it is to be safely on the hook in a beautiful bay. Our first stop was way back in what they call the Carenage de Prony. It is way back and protected from winds from any direction. The water isn't that pretty – though clear – because it is a muddy bottom. But it has lots of places to go for some beautiful walks – and we did our share of them. Day one took us up the hill for a glorious view of the anchorage and the other side of the island into the lagoon. The next hike was up beside a very long river with several waterfalls. One day we went up the nearby waterfall for "showers." Then we went to look for the long trek to the village of Prony on a nearby island. The first day we couldn't find the path so we came back to the boat after a bit of a dinghy exploration. After re-looking at the maps, we tried again the next day and lucked out with a pair of local Frenchmen who knew the way and led us to the start of the path.
This was a LONG hike but very beautiful and along a very nice trail that was well marked (once you got on it!) The village is an old historic site. There you could see the remnants of a penal colony and of course the prisoners were put to work in the mines or the lumber operations. The Prony area is pretty scarred with past lumbering and mining – and there still remains a large nickel mine in operation. This village housed many of the managers of the operations as well as one of the prisons. Now it seems that the old buildings are used as weekend retreats for "Noumeans." We were joined in the anchorage by some new friends for a few days, "Inti" with Connie and Graham and enjoyed some social time with them. We finally left the Carenage and went to Ilot Casy also in Prony. This is a popular weekend spot where lots of people come to camp for the weekend. We arrived on a Thursday and grabbed a mooring ball. There was a large catamaran nearby on another mooring with two Swiss families(five kids aboard between 3 and 8). They left that day and we took a nice walk around the island. There is a resident dog on the island that is very friendly and lives off the kindness of visitors and his own fishing skills! You should see this dog fish! But after he enjoyed a treat from us, he paid off his meal by guiding us around the island. He was pleasant company.
We enjoyed watching all the locals offload from water taxis and small boats with immense amounts of beer and supplies.
We took off from there and made our way through a narrow passage known as Woodin Pass. You want to hit this with the correct tide and in our case we wanted an incoming tide so we could ride it through the cut. We had a lovely sail through the cut and are now anchored off Ouen Island in the Baie de Tortue and as the name suggests, we were greeted by a turtle. It is really quite windy though – blowing about 20 knots, but we are protected from any seas in this bay anchored in about 5 meters of water.
We will slowly make our way back towards Noumea with a few more stops along the way and then we'll start the stressful wait for weather to get to NZ. We don't want to leave for NZ until at least the 15th – or at least that's the target.
For now we enjoy being away from the city and having zero dollar days!
At 11/7/2015 10:35 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 22°21.43'S 166°50.55'E
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