Passage to New Caledonia – 2017

Jun 09, 2017| 12 Comments

Sunday, May 28th – We arrived at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly in the early morning to pick up Avante and sail her back to our friend Stephen Everett’s dock in Raby Bay. We had just returned from a two-week road trip through southern Australia and were now focused on the multitude of things needed to be done to get Avante ready for the 800nm ocean passage to New Caledonia. Stephen, knowing our eagerness to set sail, remarks that Wednesday looks to be a good weather window to leave. “No way!” replies The Captain. “There is just too much to do.”

Avante had spent most of the last three weeks out of the water at RQYS having work done on her.  Much of this was normal maintenance such as scraping the bottom and applying a new coat of antifouling paint, replacing some hatches that had begun to leak, replacing some breather vents that had become filled with corrosion, and waxing and polishing the hull. All that work had been accomplished in the first week so that Avante should have been back in the water and back in Raby Bay before we left on our 2-week car trip.

What kept Avante in the boatyard for so long was her rudder bearings. Rudder bearings, for those who have never heard of such, are what hold the rudder to the boat and allow it to turn. The First Mate has learned to think of it as a 2-part precisely milled system of rod within a sheath somewhat like a complex door hinge. Avante has an upper and lower bearing, and we had begun to hear a clunking sound whenever the rudder was under heavy stress. This noise usually indicates that the rudder bearings have become worn and have too much play in them. The Captain had hoped to purchase replacement bearings when we were back in the States, but he discovered that the company which probably made the original bearings had not made that type of bearing since the 1990’s. He found another bearing manufacturer who had recently made a replacement bearing for a J/160. Drawings were sent, but the dimensions were much different from what is in our boat. It looked like our only solution was to have replacement bearings custom made. That would require pulling the rudder off to accurately measure our bearings. We could do that now while Avante was out of the water, but custom manufacturing two new bearings would take some time.  Thus, the plan evolved to pulling and measuring the bearings now.  The whole clunking thing would be put back together so Avante could go back in the water to set sail. Measurements in hand, we would then commission the bearings to be made, probably back in the States.  The new bearings would replace the old the next time Avante is out of the water. That would be in New Zealand in early 2018! Having to pull the rudder off the boat twice is going to add up to a lot of extra work, time and money. Nothing is ever easy on a boat!

The rudder was pulled, and the inspection of the bearings showed that the top one was fine, but the bottom one was fairly worn. The Captain and the shipwrights brainstormed an ingenious solution. The inner part of this bottom bearing appeared to be fairly straightforward to fabricate. Its outer housing is much more complex. What if we just have a new inner part fabricated in a slightly larger size to eliminate the excess play? It was a great solution which would give us good rudder bearings now and eliminate having to pull the rudder off twice, but finding the engineering company that had the right machines and who was willing to immediately take on this task was not easy. After much research and thanks to the Australian emphasis on small Mom and Pop-type shops, such a company is found. It took a little more time to machine the part. Thus, Avante went back in the water two weeks later than planned, but with good rudder bearings!

As we motor Avante back to Stephen’s, The First Mate goes below to consider what she needs to do to get ready.  The inside of the boat is strewn with sails that had to be taken down when we pulled the boat out of the water and panels and stuff that The Captain had removed so the shipwrights could get access to the parts that we replaced. There was not a single cleared area for her to start her work until The Captain put things back together! She resigns herself to making up a provisioning list, but after over 10 years of doing so, that she can do by heart.

Tuesday, May 30th – The Captain screws panels back in place, stored items are put back where they belong, and we hang the sails. All the while The Captain is working at organizing below decks, he is fussing about how much stuff we have accumulated on the boat. He fumes that he does not want another thing brought on his boat, but The First Mate has other ideas. She’s not going any further without this one addition. What is it? A Weber Baby Q! Disgusted with the stainless steel marine barbecue that hasn’t been used in over a year because of its low heat output, she wants something that works. Raves she has heard about the Q from both land lubbers and boaties alike. It heats. It cooks meat to perfection. You can make pizza with it, roast a roast, bake a casserole, fry eggs, even make a cake. It’s a marvel. Steaks seared on a Q would do any fine steak house proud. No unappetizing grey steaks like the marine barbecue puts out. She wants a Q, and that’s it! When The Captain hears that fellow yachtsman Stephen is thinking of getting one for his boat, that sways him somewhat. The deal is clinched when The First Mate agrees to throw out half the pillow “library” on the boat, but she draws the line at Sharkie, their blow-up kayak! We buy a Baby Q — plus about $300 of needful accessories to go with it!

What a test run! Though the inaugural is made on land, even The Captain is pleased with the results.

Lamb Chops on our Baby!  Beautiful!


Wednesday, May 31st – The final days before an offshore departure are always a scramble, and this one is no exception. Both of us are engrossed in our tasks, but we take time out to have a farewell dinner with Sue and Kerry Stewart on whose dock we had left our boat when we returned to the States. They have been frequent travelers to the States and have even skied Telluride. With their plans to return to the US in the not too distant future, we look forward to seeing them again.

Thursday, June 1st – Things are coming together nicely. Avante is looking shipshape.  The Captain has even had time to do some maintenance on the generator to get the cooling water flow back up to normal. The First Mate has cleaned several month’s worth of dust and the little bit of mold that always grows around the windows. She’s reviewed her hidden stashes of goods to make sure nothing has gone bad or needs replacing. A 10-day menu is planned, a 6-week supply of vacu-packed meat and fish has been ordered and the remaining provisioning is almost complete. We will be ready to go by Friday, but how does the weather look?  Sailing from Australia to New Caledonia means going against the prevailing southeast trade winds. The Captain reviews the forecasts and thinks that weather window mentioned by Stephen might still be open, but we want a second opinion. Commander’s Weather, our trusty Stateside world-wide weather forecasting service that we use for tricky passages, agrees and promises to send us a detailed forecast with their recommendations on Friday morning. In preparation, we check Friday’s tide tables to confirm our timing for getting out of Raby Bay and to nearby Raby Bay Marina for fuel.  Earlier in the week, we started the process of checking out with the Australian Border Force that handles customs and immigration by notifying them that we were targeting a possible Friday departure. Stephen tells us that often the Customs officials will drive over to Raby Bay to check him out when he heads offshore. It’s an easy drive for them, and it sure would save us the time of moving Avante over to Brisbane. We question whether they would be willing to do that for us non-residents, but when the Captain emails a request for clearance on Friday, to our surprise, the office calls to say that they will be showing up at Raby Bay at 9:00 the next morning. All looks good now for a Friday departure.

We are anxious to get going, but we know that we are rushing things. Avante has been on a dock for several months and has just undergone some major maintenance. We have not even had the sails up since February. In these circumstances, we generally like to go out and sail the boat for several days before going offshore, but if we do that, we will miss this weather window. Stephen understands our desire to do a test run before heading offshore, but he cautions us that missing this window could mean as much as a 2-week delay until the next one cycles in. Pressing in our minds is the date, July 8th, the day our granddaughter Berlin flies into Fiji. We need to be in Fiji before then, and we want to stop in New Caledonia on the way for more than just a day or two.  Our weather forecast is benign for most of the trip, so we decide to skip our customary sea trials and immediately head off on an ocean passage.

Friday, June 2nd – 0600 We sit down to a final breakfast with Stephen and Pamela. It must be admitted that The First Mate is not a regular attendee at these early morning rituals, but on our last day together, she is up and dressed. Just give the lady her cappuccino! That she gets as well as bacon, roasted tomatoes and poached eggs on homemade bread. It’s a happy/sad breakfast, for it’s always exciting to be heading off on a new adventure while sad to be leaving such dear friends. In 2019, they say they plan to show up on our doorstep in Telluride. We plan to hold them to that!

A parade of 5 uniformed officers marches through the front door at 9:00. 5? Why so many? This process usually takes only two. We learn that Brisbane is a training center for border force officers and that some of the officers are trainees getting practical experience. We have our paperwork all filled out, and the Australian Border Force is professional. Avante and her crew are cleared out of Australia by 10:00, but she is going nowhere until early afternoon.  We have informed Customs that we cannot leave right now because of the tides. Stuck in the mud we would be if we tried to move through the canals of Raby Bay and to the fuel dock before then. Of course, they understand and answer that boats are allowed 6 to 12 hours after clearance to get underway.

1300 – A final photo is taken. Two beautiful J/160’s. Avante on the left. Salacia on the right. Lines are dropped, and we slowly motor out the canal. Turning around, we wave good-bye.

After topping up our fuel, it is 1430 before we are departing Raby Bay and beginning our passage. Nouméa, Nouvelle Caledonie will be our next port of call.


Because of our late start and the distance to be traveled, it will be dark long before we get out of Moreton Bay. This means that the safest way for us to exit the bay and head out to sea is through the main Northwest Ship Channel which adds a number of extra miles to our trip. The Northeast Channel would save us time and distance, but we don’t want use that in the dark.  However, our major concern right now is the weather. The email received from Commander’s Weather earlier today recommended that we not depart Moreton Bay until Sunday morning due to winds right along the Australian coast on Friday and Saturday. As we motored north  in Moreton Bay throughout the afternoon, the local VHF repeatedly broadcasted a strong wind warning. The warnings state that combined wave and swell is expected to be over 4 meters high offshore.  We certainly don’t want to leave in those conditions!

We decide to pull over and park for a while. There are no really great shelters from southerly winds that we know of in northern Moreton Bay, but the curve of Morton Island off Tangalooma where we anchor will give us some protection. Still, it will be a rolling anchorage for the short time we are there. Rocking or not, it is good to be back on the boat. Winds do not start to die down until late on Saturday, and since it will still take a while for the seas to calm down, we decide to wait one more night and leave via the shorter Northeast Channel first thing Sunday morning.

Sunday, June 4th – Eager to be underway, the anchor is pulled at 0730. While The Captain secures the anchor for passage, The First Mate slowly follows our inbound track on the GPS to motor back out the stretch between the sandbars. Once out, we turn north and head up the western side of Moreton Island. Several hours later, we clear the shallow patches at the northern end of the Northeast Passage registering a low of 19 ft on the depth meter. Time to raise the mainsail and really get underway. The Captain climbs the first few feet up the mast to attach the halyard while The First Mate slows down the boat and turns into the wind. All set, the main is raised, but something begins binding over halfway up.  It obviously is straining against something. The Captain looks at all the ropes leading up the mast, but cannot see what is the problem. He decides to lower the sail and start again. Reaching forward to release a clutch, awayward thrust of the boat causes him to fall forward onto the button that raises the halyard. Up goes the sail by only an inch or so before The Captain pulls back, but it’s enough, more than enough. A loud snap is heard and is followed by a white cascade as the remaining sail which had not yet gone up the mast tumbles from the boom to the deck. One of the port Lazy Jack lines has sheared. With nothing holding up the sail bag on that side of the boat, the sail is loose in the wind. In a way, this would be no problem if we wanted to fully raise the sail, but we want to put in a reef. With no sail bag to hold the shortened sail, we have to contain it in some way. It’s a dejá vu moment. We’ve been here before. Last time a Lazy Jack line gave on us, it was on our passage from Brisbane to Sydney in the dark of night with 35 knots blasting down on us. (See “Twice Bashed by Southerly Busters”, January 2107 for that story.) The Captain sets to work securing the sail and tying down flying lines. What a mess! The good news is that it’s bright daylight and only blowing about 14 knots.


Once everything is stopped from flapping around and calm is restored, The Captain continues to raise the sail with a reef in place. We then turn off the wind and begin sailing toward Nouméa, but The First Mate is concerned. What if we have to lower the sail? How would we contain it? Is there a place we can seek shelter while we fix the lines, for The Captain has stated that fixing the lines will probably require him to go up the mast. Looking around, The First Mate knows the answer. There is no calm shelter unless we go all the way back to the south end of Moreton Bay or across to Brisbane. She’s not a happy camper at the moment, but The Captain assures her that, if needed, the sail could be lowered to fall against the starboard Lazy Jack lines and secured there with sail ties. Winds are supposed to lighten up significantly. We expect to be motoring in a few days and with calmer seas, he will be able to reattach the lines. We’re not in any danger. She realizes that, but it just is not the way to begin an 800 mile passage.

So, on we go to “where the butter melts” as a New Zealand friend says. Bundled up in light thermals and wool socks against the brisk wind and chill, we are looking forward to some tropical temperatures. Each day will see a rise in warmth until these thermals are exchanged for shorts and tee shirts while the butter, which is now out on the counter in a chilled state, slowly softens.

Why is it that she always seems to be the carrier of bad news? Later that afternoon …. dare she tell him? For the last 2 years, the starboard hatch in the forward head has been leaking whenever rough seas careened water over the bow. The Captain had glued the hatch shut in an attempt to stop the leak, but it had not helped. In heavy seas, that bathroom became wet with sticky salt water. Clear everything out, close the door and forget about using the room until the seas calmed, and then only after the whole room was given a fresh water washdown. Finally, we were at a place to have it fixed. Fixed meant bringing a new hatch from the States and having someone who knows what he’s doing install the thing. Since there are two hatches in that room, we bought two hatches. Two bright, new  Lewmar hatches gleam overhead — and the starboard one is leaking! Each time a wave washes overhead, several drops of sea water trickle down. Should she wait and let him discover it on his own? Deciding that it makes no difference. Bad new is bad news no matter how it is learned. She tells him. “NO!” he exclaims and dashes forward to check. The framing around the hatch is dry so it was installed correctly. Water is creeping in along the window edge where it closes. It’s a defective seal, but how do we handle that from here? Lewmar is an English company. This hatch was bought in the States and installed in Australia.  We can’t just pull the hatch to bring it home to the States in July in order for them replace the seal. So much for a brand new $350 hatch!

2200 – It’s The First Mate’s first watch of the night. What a delight to look up in the night sky to see the Southern Cross bright above her, and there’s her special grouping of stars she calls the “Chipmunk”. Part of Scorpio’s tail, they look like a pert little chipmunk with 2 bright eyes beaming down on her. She points them out to The Captain, but he fails to see what she sees. He’s tired and ready for bed, for his previous watch had been a busy one with the need to make constant adjustments because of changing winds ranging from 7 to 27 knots. Though we never got wet, it was passing clouds that kept him on his toes. The First Mate takes her watch under a cloudless sky and improved conditions. It’s a peaceful night watch that passes quickly. She’s back in bed by 0100 for 3 hours until her 0400 watch starts.

Monday, June 5th – During the 0400 to 0700 watch, the generator is turned on to recharge the batteries. At that time, the refrigeration cooling system also kicks on. That’s good timing, for it is such a huge drain on the batteries that we like to see its energy guzzling coincide with the generator’s recharging of the batteries. She sees the red light come on signaling the start of the refrigeration’s cooling cycle. An hour and a half passes, and there is no drop in the freezer temperatures. Something’s not working right. Should she wake The Captain? The freezer compressor and motor are all in the aft lazerette. He can’t see to do anything about that now in the dark. She lets him sleep on, but again the carrier of doom, she imparts the dire news to him upon wakeup. With almost 2 months of cruising ahead of us and a good 6 weeks of frozen meat in the freezer, we can’t be looking at a broken refrigeration system. Can we? While The Captain ponders what he needs to do to investigate the problem, The First Mate heads to bed with thoughts of how and what to do with all that meat.

1000 – She’s up, and The Captain is ready to deal with the refrigeration. The starboard lazerette is emptied of its contents. Buckets, life jackets and our life raft in its bright white metal box are lifted out and lashed to the sides of the boat to make sure they don’t tip overboard. This gives our cockpit a very cluttered look. The Captain climbs down into the lazerette and squeezes around to look at things. He had already concluded that the refrigerator compressor was not getting any cooling water to it. Could it be something as simple as a clogged hose? No luck there. It’s the pump. We have a number of pumps on Avante, and many fail on a fairly regular basis. There is rarely a return flight from the States that we aren’t carrying a pump for one system or other. Do we have a spare pump for the refrigeration? Of course, we do. No rotting meat here! Unscrewing the bolts that hold the pump in place is easy. Holding it up while one screws it back into its tight spot is not. The Captain does a test run before going through that travail. The pump works. The compressor kicks into gear. We’re cooling! The Captain cynically holds up the motor. Made by a US company cheaply in China or India with questionable standards and sold, at exorbitant prices, to mariners who need a reliable pump, which it is not. He comments that the only thing good about the motor is that the hose mounting brackets are thoughtfully designed to make removal and replacing easy, since one has to do so so very often. Unfortunately, there’s not a huge market out there to create more competition.

Tuesday, June 6th – We fall into our passage rhythm of watches, meals, sleep and quiet activities like reading, writing and surveying the landscape. For the first part of the passage, winds are between 14 to 19 knots and the seas have calmed. It’s easy sailing, but with the forecast calling for lighter winds as we travel east, we know the sailing will not last. The First Mate wakes for her 0400 watch to hear The Captain furling the jib and the motor rumbling to life. With winds now between 4 – 6 knots, we were not going anywhere fast. The Captain jokes that his “Nordhaven Sue” ought to be happy.  A Nordhaven is a heavy-duty, blue water motor yacht, and motor yachts like passages with no wind and calm seas. “Nothing wrong with that,” thinks the wimpy First Mate.

0820 – As The Captain ascends the cockpit stairs, he suddenly bursts into action moving forward to stop a wildly spinning wheel. The autopilot, for no apparent reason, had decided to turn. The First Mate scrambles up behind him with a crazed laugh chortling out of her. “What now?” she wonders in unbelieving amazement. The autopilot will not stop wanting to turn. Something like 550 nautical miles still to go, will we have to hand-steer the rest of the way? We try a time-worn trick employed with any inanimate electronic object to get its attention. Turn it off, let it stew a bit and then re-start. That does the trick. Phew! The First Mate remains behind the wheel monitoring Auto for a while, but it holds.What the problem was we will never know. Inanimate objects, as The First Mate verifiably knows, have a mind of their own.

1230 – When The First Mate wakes from her morning nap, The Captain declares that seas are now calm enough for him to tackle climbing up the mast to fix the Lazy Jack lines. “Sure they are calmer, but with the still rolling waves, that’s kind of relative,” notes The First Mate. “You sure you don’t want to give it another 24 hours to calm further?” asks she. “What if we get a freak storm?” insists he. “Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today,” he lectures. “Have it your way,” she states. He does.

The triangular pulley arrangement of lines that forms the Lazy Jack system is clever. One long line runs down from the mast. Pull down on it, and the mess of lines, all interconnected through pulleys and rings, is pulled up together. Attached at key points running along the sides of the sail bag, the lines pull up the bag to enclose the sail. That’s about as simplistically simple as she can describe something she finds diabolically complicated. At least it is so when the whole thing is collapsed in a tangle of line and loose ends blowing across the deck. The Captain, however, has its diagram emblazoned in his brain. Working from that template, he can “see” how the whole thing goes back together. She does not. The Captain has worked out a careful repair plan. The line that we broke is the control line that raises and lowers and holds the whole thing up. It just needs to be reconnected. It goes from the bottom of the mast to a pulley about 3/4 of the way up the mast and then back down to connect to the top of the Lazy Jacks. First, we make sure that the Jack Lines are untangled and positioned properly. Next, the spinnaker halyard is attached to the top end of this mess of lines. In the cockpit, her job now is to hand pull the halyard up and raise all the fallen lines and the port side of the sail bag into place. The Captain wants to lower the mainsail before going up the mast, so we turn the boat off the wind just enough to encourage the sail to fall into the starboard side of the bag as much as possible when we lower it. He then slips himself into the body-numbing sling that will lift him up the mast. Part mountain climber’s harness, part medieval punishment, it is not a comfortable piece of semi-clothing to be carrying all one’s weight. He attaches the main halyard to a ring in the front of the harness and double ties it just in case it were to fail while he’s swinging around up there. Back in the cockpit, The First Mate prepares to press the winch button that will carry him upward. Ready? Okay, go. Up he goes taking the line that needs to be reconnected with him. Though earlier The First Mate had positioned the boat to motor slowly into the oncoming waves, now under autopilot, the system is not as finely attuned to wave action. Periodically, we get hit with a series of sideward waves causing the mast to arc from side to side. If The Captain were to lose his grip, he’d be swinging up there, bashing around, like a cowboy on a bucking bronco. It seems to take forever for him to thread the line through the pulley, but he needs to make sure the line is not twisted around anything. Finally, he calls down to be lowered. With a sigh of relief, The First Mate sees his feet touch the deck. Rubbing his legs to regain circulation, he’s glad to be walking around on the deck again, too. We lower the spinnaker halyard that had been holding things up and attach the proper line. This line is pulled up, and, obediently, the port side of the sail bag follows. We are back in business! Mission completed, The Captain takes a cockpit shower and heads to bed for a well-deserved “Granny Nap.”

Throughout this whole ordeal, The First Mate is reminded of a woman we met in Fiji last year. In her 50’s, she was sailing around the world single-handed on a 45-foot boat. That’s a big boat for one person to handle. Whatever would she have done in a situation like this? There are self-pulley systems that slowly hoist a person up the mast, but what a job this would have been alone! Sailing a boat solo is the easy part, but handling the near disasters that arise, no matter how well-kept the boat or how trained the sailor, is another matter. That second pair of hands is often needed.

Totally unrelated to boat matters but still very important, The First Mate’s camera suddenly refused to open up on the first day out. A message appears on the screen saying to turn off the camera and start again. She does so. Several times she does so, but the lens will not pop out. This inanimate electronic object is defying the time-worn trick. Everything appears in working order for she can view her stored photos on the screen and navigate around the menu. Back to Best Buy it will go in July. Fortunately, we have The Captain’s small pocket camera onboard so all is not lost.

For some reason, we are experiencing a spat of bad luck, poor timing, whatever. What group of Gremlins have stowed away on this passage? What else will they throw at us? Wisely, she pushes that pessimistic thought out of her head. She also honestly knows that it is not the Gremlins to be blamed. It is the fact that we have not been on the boat since February, and during that time Avante had some major work done. We really needed to do a sea trial, sailing around a few days on the boat to work out any kinks in her while we get our sea legs and sea minds back in gear. That is what we usually do, but a better-than-usual weather window and concern that missing it might mean a 2-week delay motivated us to get going.

1800 – While The Captain laments that we have yet to have a really good sailing passage this year, The First Mate is luxuriating in the calm, peaceful time we are spending out here motoring across the ocean. Not only is she free of the gnawing seasickness thanks to that little pill called Stugeron, she is free of angst and physical discomfort. How many bruises will she have at the end of this passage? Maybe none if it continues like this! On deck this evening, she captures a photo of the setting sun. His camera, a trusty little Canon, does a decent job.


Turning around to the east, a nearly full moon has risen above the horizon. Nights on passage with the moon above are so much brighter and reassuring than moving forward into pitch blackness.




Wednesday,June 7th – 0600 – Enjoying the pre-dawn circle of vast ocean around her, she is totally at peace. To be honest, she really would like just enough wind to be able to turn the engine off to sail quietly, peacefully along. It’s not often that the ocean shows us this calm side. “Enjoy it while it has been given you to enjoy,” she thinks. As the sun rises, she captures another photo with the little Canon. That small white dot to the left of the mast is Venus in the early morning sky.


In the afternoon when the winds rise to a fairly steady 9 – 10 knots, the jib is unfurled which gives us a speed boost. We are under a bit of a time issue with our expected Friday morning arrival in Nouméa. That should give us all day to clear through the 3 departments of entry into New Caledonia: Immigration, Customs and Bio-Security. The problem with which we are all too familiar from last year’s arrival is that Immigration closes for the day at 11:30. The other 2 offices are open until later in the afternoon. If The Captain is not at Immigration by 11:30, we will be stuck on the boat under the yellow Quarantine flag until Monday morning.  The First Mate figures that she’s had her relaxed time of enjoyment out here. It’s time now to get a move on!

1600 – Winds have risen to a steady 10 – 12 knots. Main sail is raised, and the engine is turned off. Ah, the quiet without the motor thrumming! We are cruising along at slightly over 7 knots. That’s not much faster than with the engine, but every little bit of extra speed will help.

Thursday, June 8th – Since yesterday afternoon, we have sailed a little, motored a little. It all depended on the fluctuating winds. The Captain is planning to go through the reef at Pass Dumbea around dawn which is doable if we keep our speed above 6 knots. From there, it is under 2 hours to Nouméa. That should have us in the harbor well in time for that early-closing Immigration office. Instead of taking the extra time to get a slip in the marina, we will anchor out and quickly drop the dinghy to motor ashore. Once checked in, then we will look into getting a berth, for our plans are to spend several days in this delightful, very French-expat Pacific Island city. Our tactic is set. The only glitch in our plan could come from the community itself. Will it be a holiday weekend? French expats live an easy, no stress life over here with 3 and 4-day holiday weekends liberally sprinkled throughout the year. When we were here for a month last October, they had both a 3-day and a 4-day holiday weekend in that short 4-week span. We do not see one on the calendar in our guide book, but that does not mean one has not slipped in unnoticed.

Friday, June 9th – Made it! Per The Captain’s log, we dropped anchor at 0730, and 10 minutes later as we were lowering the dinghy, a passing rain shower hit. That’s New “Cloud-onia” as The Captain calls this place. Contrary to what most everyone thinks of the South Pacific tropics, New Caledonia tends to gather and hold its clouds. Low lying grey overcast with frequent passing showers are not uncommon. Nor is a hefty wind that always seems to be blowing. Still, it’s a great place to spend some time. There’s plenty of small, isolated crystalline sand beaches, palm trees and enough sun coming through the clouds to make it pretty darn close to Paradise.

As The First Mate concludes this blog entry, The Captain is running around to the 3 border control offices. It proves not to be a holiday weekend. In fact, there are no holidays in June. We show our surprise when Catherine in the marina office shows us the calendar. Smiling, she points to the month of May. Three long holiday weekends are highlighted in that one month. What school child would not love this place!

    Comments (12)

  1. Exhausted reading about your travails since departing OZ! So glad you have a expert ‘fixer’ onboard and that you have time to relax before heading to the next stop!
    Hope the winds will be in your favor and you have smooth sailing ahead!


  2. Patty and John Doerr

    Smooth sailing here on Hastings….read your latest entry. I’m very imporessed with your changing the website and voila….we have it in full. See you soon. fondly, Patty


  3. I am totally exhausted but love reading about your adventures!! Are you back in Telluride
    for the 4th. Sent you an email to see if you can join us for the festivities. 7pm
    We should be up by June 28th. Cheers, Libba


  4. Georgiann Carroll

    Sue and Bill, Love reading of your journeys. I’ll be in Telluride all summer and hope to see you. Having a Memorial Service for John on July 2nd and a granddaughter is being married her in Sept.
    Love, GAnn


  5. Great photos – thanks so much for sharing! We’ll have two Aussie golfers staying with us for the Southwestern Amateur this coming week. Temps should be around 110 – pleasant for a golf competition!

    Our travels aren’t nearly as exciting as yours – Singapore, Indonesia, New Jersey, back to Asia for the part-timer and then our month in Vancouver beginning the 26th of this month!

    We look forward to reading your blogs – keep them coming!!


  6. Dear first mate and dear captain,
    I just some time over before new guests will be arrivingto read your newest blog. Sue, I admire your capabilities to this technique and I enjoy your wonderful “descriptions” of the various situations and problems!!! Here in Germany the summer season – finally – starts after some very cold nights where many plants and appletree blossoms were completely frozen the harvest will be very mean and/or totally off.
    Enjoy your grand-child! We will do this in July-August school holidays when all 5 kids will be here to celebrate several birthdays, mine is thank God over, I am now 80 and we are looking forward to Frieder’s 75th birthday in about 3 weeks when we are invited to the big Liebherr Hotel in austria.
    Keep on sailing and enjoying Noumea and Fiji and return safely to the States. All the best to both of you.
    Greetings Sieglinde and Wolfgang


  7. I am reading your blog to Brad, as we are stuck on a train for a couple of hours due to an accident. We enjoy & laugh as we read, even though we know none of what happens is funny at the time. Love & happy sailing, Rhoda & Brad


  8. Another great experience – – thanks for sharing. Hope to see the two of you over the Summer in Telluride — OCK & JOANIE


  9. Patty and John Doerr

    Dear “Carrier of Doom”….I can’ get over what you two did with the crossing…you made it but oh the challenges. Looking forward to seeing you on dry land. fondly, Patty


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