Saturday, February 24, 2024

Exploring the islands and anchorages of New Caledonia

8th - 20th September 2022.

Our first anchorage was within spitting distance of Port Moselle Marina, and to be frank we were quite exhausted after the 3 nm journey. Two weeks tied to the dock makes you soft.

Anchored off Ilot Maitre

Ilot Maitre was our destination for the night. It was a pretty island with trendy overwater bungalows. We’d heard on the grapevine that the resort didn't welcome cruisers ashore so we stayed put on GWTW and were happy with that.

Next morning we weighed anchor, rolled out half our jib and had another massive passage of nearly 9nm to the well protected  Baie Maa on the west coast of the mainland. The winds were pretty puffy rushing down the surrounding hills but our anchor was dug into thick sand and we never moved an inch all night.

There was really nothing in the bay to keep us more than a day.

 And with that on day 3 we pointed the bows south west for 34 nm toward Anse de la Est in Pyrony Bay which would be our jumping off point to the famed Isle des Pins   ( Isle of Pines) the following morning.

Sunrise before heading to Isle De Pines

In company with Aussies Clare and Andy from Eye Candy we set out at 0600 for the 40 plus nm passage. It was a bit of a dogleg to get there needing a keen eye to spot the many reefs and rocky outcrops which play hazard with boats plying this route.

Being an overcast and hazy day it was vital to keep a good lookout at all times as many boats have come to grief getting to the island .We arrived around 3pm and dropped the anchor in 21ft off a beautiful sandy beach.

Anchored off the Island

The next three days were spent exploring the island on foot and by car

We rented a car at the local resort and the four of us piled in to see the sights…churches, cemeteries, two prisons, the local fresh market which had very little on display as well as walking to see several wood carvings dotted around the foreshore of where we  anchored.

Wood Carvings along the shore

The owner of this sign sure didn't mince his words!

One of many beautiful churches dotted around the island

A road side cemetery

The Oumagne Grotto

One of the two Prison ruins on the Island
On our way back to return the car we stopped for a coffee over at a resort on the opposite side of the bay which we patronized as they had free Wi-Fi available. It was then that we learned of Queen Elizabeth's passing a few days before. We were all saddened by this news.

Feeding Fido
During another of our shoreside lunch excursions Liam befriended a local dog who was highly trained in the art of begging for food.

Once Liam and his friend had gobbled down Liam's’ meal said pooch, now with a tummy full, moved on to the next table where he had equal success with his new found family.

The supply ship arriving from the mainland

The days were slipping by and It was now the 15th of September and time to say goodbye to the Isle des Pins.

 It was another early start just after dawn and the posse of two headed out under sail to pretty Ilot Ua arriving just after midday, 

A long pristine beach greeted us as we plopped the anchor into wonderfully clear water. Sundowners on the beach, well on a tarp actually were the order of the late arvo.

Another perfect beach just made for sunset drinks 
All was going well until a couple of uninvited guests of the variety known as slithery headed our way.

Liam our resident snake handler was quickly on the job and persuaded them to move on with the help of a big stick.

 You probably didn’t know that sea snakes could fly did you.

After a lay day and some uninspiring snorkeling we headed back towards the mainland once again with the top stopping spot being Ile Vere, a  horseshoe shaped bay with excellent protection from the SW winds.

Once gain we had sundowners ashore where this time we met up with a family of locals (Kanaks) who were most interested in our travels around the globe. They were cooking up fresh caught fish on their makeshift BBQ and offed some to the four of us. Didn’t need to ask us twice!

After another couple of lay days and watching the late Queen’s funeral in French it was time to head back to the big smoke once again for a much needed provisioning run.

Another perfect Pacific Sunset

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