Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Passage to Australia

[Kyle]We had a somewhat easy week to Australia. It had been over five months since we had spent that much time at sea, but we fell into our normal routines easily enough.

Mixed seas on the passage

Visit from a tropic bird

The passage was a bit too windy on either end, with a slightly too-calm middle that allowed us to rest in between.

One evening we had a visit from a Boobie determined to take a restWe enjoyed several of his attempts to land which included a few slides down the spinnaker before he finally made it and settled for the night

After the rough leg into Hervey Bay, we arrived into Bundaberg in the wee hours. The harbor approach is well-charted and almost too well lit. Those flashing blue lead-in lights are a bit on the bright side. We anchored across from the marina, where we snuck in a few hours of rest before being assigned a berth in the morning for clearance.

The officials were friendly and efficient. The biosecurity guy poked around a lot and looked at all of the wood he could find, but he didn’t ask us to dismantle or unload anything to get a better look. The whole process took maybe forty minutes. One unlucky boat had two rats aboard, that had been picked up at the marina in Port Moselle. Not only did that trigger a very thorough inspection by the officials, but they also chewed through electrical, hydraulic and steering lines before being hunted down. I guess it was good we had anchored in Baie des Citrons after all.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Back in Noumea (and leaving New Caledonia)

[Kyle]We tried to get into the marina at Port Moselle, but they were full up. They were nice enough to take our small mountain of Spring Cleaning trash and donations at their fuel dock, though. We spent our few days in the area anchored in Baie des Citrons.

Since we started on a Sunday, we mostly avoided the annoying party crowds we had experienced the time before. It was easy enough to get to the beach, where we could then get busses to town for provisioning and departure formalities as well as some tourist fun.

[Maryanne]The highlight of our 'tourist fun' was a trip to see the Tjibaou Cultural Center. I was especially keen to see this as we'd missed any of the traditional Kanak experience in the northern islands. Aside from plenty of information boards and exhibits (traditional and modern) within the center, outside there are various styles of kanak huts to see, there was also the option of a cultural show staged within a guided walk around the garden trails. The guide takes you along The ‘Kanak path’ circling the park lands while explaining the native plants, and with actors enacting the five stages of life per the Kanak belief of the first man: Téâ Kanaké. The museum buildings themselves are quite stunning in their own right looking very modern while being based on Kanak themes. We were warned when we purchased our ticket that the tour might be in French, but by the time we arrived for the schedulded event, apparently enough other English speakers had accrued and we had a wonderful Kanak woman guide give us an excellent tour and answered what must have been 100s of my questions as we walked through the gardens

Exploring the buildings and gardens

The cultural show/tour was especially enjoyed

Our last night in town - we had to spend the last of our local money (any excuse!)

[Kyle]Once we were cleared out, we sailed the short distance to Nge island (a nature reserve, also known as Ile Laregnere), just inside Dumbea Pass. There, we could grab a Park mooring and take one last breath before heading out to sea the next morning. We ended up being the only one there, which gave us an unobstructed getaway for an engine-less departure.

One last snorkel in tropical waters for a while

Our last anchorage in New Caledonia: Îlot Larégnère

Sunday, October 20, 2019

T’ndu Island

[Kyle]After Tenia, we had a longish sail in beam winds to T’ndu Island for a last stop before returning to Noumea for our outward clearance formalities.

As our trip to Australia was looming, we used the fine, dry weather to empty the entire contents of the boat onto the decks and trampoline in a massive, multi-day Spring cleaning. Australian Biosecurity may possibly want to see every single piece of wood on the boat. This includes bulkheads and the panels underneath all of our storage spaces. If they find something they don’t like, they may decide to really tear the boat apart.

The big clean!

We were pretty certain that we were not suffering from any sort of infestation, but the only way to be sure they wouldn’t find any insect carcasses was to get to all of the boat’s hidden dark areas first, thus the complete teardown. We didn’t find anything other than some grime to deal with, but it was good to give everything a good scrub. We also got rid of a lot of old and worn-out stuff that we are never going to use, including donating 3 infant life vests we had aboard.

Ashore we walked all around the island, and over the top too

Close up at some of the rocks (and another sea-snake)

We did take a little break from cleaning and rowed ashore for a walking lap around the island. Along the way, we found some interesting formations that we assumed were fossilized mud pools. We later learned that it was more interesting than that. Basse Terre, the big island of New Caledonia, was part of the super-continent of Gondwanaland and is one of the oldest land masses on the planet. The structures were fossilized stromatolites from way back in what paleontologists call the Boring Billion between the first evidence of life on Earth and the explosion in complexity of multi-cellular creatures. Stromatolites are basically formed by a living slime that slowly builds up over millennia to form rounded boulder-like structures. During that time, they slowly released oxygen into the atmosphere until it was at high enough levels for animals like us. Thanks, slime. {Note: living stromatolites can still be seen thriving in a few places on earth - including Shark Bay in Western Australia - which we visited way back in 2009}

We were excited to see a couple of Ospreys up close, and with their lunch

Since we had to clean the hulls - we found some time for a quick snorkel too