Paradise

From Kuto we motored 8nm to a small islet – Ilot Brosse – with Sans Souci, Zofia, Squander. Had a lovely couple of days there, snorkelling off the beach, then the winds were due to change so we decided to head north along the bigger island. Toni got nervous as we didn’t leave til 10am and the wind had already picked up. People were doing their ‘homework’ of waypoints etc last minute – this must be done the night before so you know when to leave, what the tides/currents are doing etc. I was nervous the seas would be big like last time. What does fear stand for – false expectations …… -. Anyway we had a great trip! The only drawback was the wind was from behind so we didn’t put the sails up. We weren’t fully anchored til about 3pm. We had a reef pass to enter; we went with Brian’s suggestion which was a bit further north than the one we had chosen; the one before it looked ok but we were a little reticent to try it. Went to the wider one. It was fine. Plenty of depth, no waves, even tho we were going in on an outgoing tide (should really go thru on an incoming tide, as in Aus with bars). A long way down to the anchorage, took almost as long as the trip up! Lots of rock on the way in. And of course the wind picked up to 20knots on the nose so I was freezing up the front watching out for bommies. Then it started to rain, but fortunately that didn’t last long. As soon as I saw sand we were in 2.8m so we dropped the hook. Still a long way offshore but it banked steeply after that. We’d been told the holding wasn’t very good but we got hooked in straight away. The water was crystal clear so in the morning we could see the chain and anchor which is the first time we’ve been able to see it. The night was perfectly calm so we both slept really well. The previous night at Brosse had been really noisy wind wise and the boat was swinging around all over the place so we didn’t get much sleep. The night before had also been noisy cos Ron left the wind generator on to help charge up and that winds up and down with the wind, very drony. So I needed some sleep! Those sleepless nights are the worst. These times (and anchoring difficulty times) are when I question how much more I can do this lark. But then you get nights like last night and days of sunshine and beach etc and I guess it’s a bit like childbirth, you forget about the pain!! Eventually. But it can be horrid, really horrid.

Ilot Brosse

The wind has picked up now at our anchorage but it’s never as bad in the daytime. We’ve also seen that the anchor is well hooked in so we are happy. We’ve just set up and run for the first time the water maker – delayed as long as possible because once you start doing it, you have to do it every 3 days or ‘pickle’ the watermaker, ie put chemicals in because the seawater leaves microorganisms that will grow and ruin the works. Only have to run it an hour a day to make about 100 litres so shouldn’t be too hard. But it’s just another chore. Life is very basic on a boat, which is nice.

The colour of the water here is stunning. Really picture postcard stuff. Never get tired of it.

We actually watched a movie last night – we haven’t before as we’re normally so tired we’re in bed by 8pm!! I read and lights out about 9pm. Gotta get it (sleep!) while I can as Ron is usually up a couple of times a night checking on things, and something usually wakes me up. It’s ok if I go straight back to sleep but that doesn’t always happen. I fell asleep before the end of the movie!

Food in Noumea – Eggs, fish (though one friend has already got cigueterra), prawns, French cheese, ham, baguettes, juicy limes, garlic, ginger, beef, a little lamb, chicken (frozen & rotisseries) are all readily available. What I am missing is natural yogurt (can get flavoured); fresh fruit and veg – not much is grown here, just what they use themselves with a bit of leftover to sell, however coconuts and papayas are plentiful – are flown in from Aus, NZ and France. Some frozen chicken from US. French wines are cheap and readily available. Spirits are a bit more expensive. But this is only in Noumea. When we travel to the tiny places they do have little stores (‘Alimentation’) where you have to get to by 7am before the locals buy all the baguettes! They stock cans of stuff, sauces, flyswatters (thank goodness – we’d brought some flies with us from the north and they bred faster than we could kill them! cos we didn’t have a flyswatter, the teatowel just wasn’t fast enough!), cheeses, UHT milk (there is no fresh milk brought in), hams and a few veggies – peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, spring onions, yams and some plaintains of course. No tomatoes. I have run out of tomatoes. And gin. It’s getting dire!!! We are almost ready to go back to Noumea to reprovision, then we can have 3 weeks ‘out’ before we fly home late July for a quick visit. Gotta see the little bub again before she changes too much. She can already say hello! Smart Borretts! I was going to say, takes after her Noni, but that is such a my mother thing to say, I won’t!

It’s not easy reprovisioning. I have a granny shopping trolley which is quick to fill; 2 bags of shopping and that’s it. Think I will buy another trolley from Bunnings, it will better handle the slabs of beer (Number 1 zest, local beer). The supermarket is a good 15 minute walk away which is fine, but not when you’re lugging everything back. Just get a taxi. The supermarket does sell wine but it’s better to go to the nearest wine shop and buy them by the box. Got a very nice young man there last time who spoke English and chose some wines with me. They are great! Medoc is sort of like a cab sav; got some from Bordeaux which Ron likes, like a Merlot, and a light red, like a pinot; also some white, couldn’t get pinot gris across, but what he’s given us is fine (it’s called ‘Loupy’ (foxy) and the label says ‘Es tu loupy?’ (are you foxy??!!). We also were told about a fabulous Chinese restaurant, eaten there twice – prawns & veggies with garlic & ginger – devine! It’s a French city I hear you say! Have been to one little French restaurant – French chef, Japanese wife front of house! Cute place but I didn’t really like my meal. Companions liked theirs. There are lots of restaurants in Noumea so will make sure we sample some before we go home. It’s a little tricky though, as we are out on anchor (getting a marina berth is not easy, they only have about 20 visitor berths), so that means a dinghy ride in and a dinghy ride back in the dark (and it’s a good 15 minute ride!) plus don’t want to get wet! The night of the party I put all my wet weather gear on over my party gear!!!

Swimming with sharks

Well today we dinghied about a mile out to the reef for a snorkel. I was very apprehensive as Blake and Forfor (sv Squander) are keen spearfishermen and told us there were plenty of big fish out there including reefies. Yikes! So this morning, the sun wasn’t shining so I was going to use that as an excuse not to go (coral is prettier if the sun is shining). Ron said ‘come on, let’s give it a go’. So we did. I had borrowed a wetsuit from Juliana so I could stay in a bit longer. 3 dinghies with 8 people went out. The coral was stunning, even without sunshine. I felt comforted by the fact that there were several people around, two with spearguns, and Ron had a knife! But they weren’t needed. The reef sharks that were cruising around had already had brekky and weren’t interested in us. The coral was amazing, even without the sun, so colourful and diverse. There were plenty of little fishies, not hundreds, but enough to keep us entertained. Then a big moray eel poked his head out and we all floated around waiting for him to pop out again which he did several times. There were clams of all sizes. Someone saw an octopus and shouted to us, by the time we got there he was gone. Later that day the two young uns (Blake and Simona) saw a huge ray not far from the boats. I took photos but can’t really see what I’m shooting in the picture frame so haven’t got too many good shots. O well, it’s in the memory bank. Another fear faced, not overcome, but getting there.

Last night the fishermen cooked us all paella with all their bounty. Gosh it was good. We also all played Articulate. Really get to see people’s stripes when they play a competitive game. Get to find out who are the ‘know alls’, who mucks around, and various other personality traits. My partner and I got off to a great start but then we got terrible questions and came last! The most competitive know all won. It was a great night!

Today we moved only 4nm to a recommended anchoring spot called Gadji. It’s on the north-west coast of Isle de Pins. But we knew it was going to be a tricky entry. We also knew it was a very spectacular spot. We had waypoints to steer too. I told Ron that it was going to get very shallow and if he wasn’t happy we could pull back and go around the corner to where the monos go. So off we go. As we get close to one island I’m up the front ‘bommie spotting’. No bommies, just lots of flat rocks. Ron’s yelling out the depth to me (anxiously!) We got to 0.4m (we have a 0.4 safety margin, so that means we are in a little less than a metre of water). There is a little ‘chop’ which means that 0.4 probably gets to 0.3 occasionally. We are going very close along a little island. I can see a reef up ahead and I yell ‘are we turning before that reef?’; yes, came the reply. I’m thinking once we turn that corner we are going to see where we can anchor. When Ron yells out 0.4m I know he wants to stop and turn back. I yell, ‘look at it in there’. Fortunately it immediately increases depth so he’s happy to continue (well, not happy but happier!). Another bit of reef to negotiate and there it is. A huge shallow lagoon. Surrounded by pine-clad ilots and those tiny little ilots that have their bottoms carved out by the sea. A bit like Baie d’Upi (where we had the outrigger ride) with individual little ilots dotted all over the place. We find a 2m deep patch of sand and drop the anchor. Only bad thing is there is one of those charter boats in here with a school group. Have found out these kids are from Kings College in Sydney – what a school trip! This group is a mixed group with a mama bear in charge so they should be quiet enough after 8.30! Have heard any bad behaviour and they are shipped home pronto (but there’s no airport near here so not sure how that happens without great inconvenience!). Their boat was in the way of the sunset shot too. We can see sv Squander (mono) anchored around the corner. They had a daunting entry where they are too so we all feel pretty chuffed we made it. Yesterday Ron encouraged me to snorkel, today I encouraged Ron to go a bit further to get to this magical spot. Yin and yang I guess. We have very light winds for the next 5 or so days so this is where we are propping. Our friends in Sans Souci and Zofia have hired a car tomorrow so very kindly are going to do a food run and deliver when they come up! Just ordered eggs, butter and baguettes!! I can live on that and some baked beans for a few days! Greens, I need greens.

Haven’t quite mastered the uploading of pics so here are a few randoms

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Love reading your blog Toni- you really paint a picture of what it’s like out there. In parts it feels like I’m reading a travel log from Captain Cook’s crew! Also loved these photos specially you and capt Salty dancing – you both look really relaxed and happy. Much love j x

  2. Hey T, I have plenty of gin – but no tonic. How about a swap???

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