The harbour at Noumea.................
Dud and Dave.. er actually
thats Dave and Dud
Convict ruins at Base de
Coral outcrop at the Isle
The Tjibaou Cultural Centre
The Bonhomme Rock at Bourail
Party time on TC. Dave, Vincent,
Jenny, Baptiste, Maryianne and Jean-Michael
& photos by Jenny Maruff,
Dud (Dudley Young), Dave (Dave Macbeth)
and Patrick Barker left Brisbane on Friday August 3rd at 1 p.m.
Four and a half days later, they were in Noumea, tied up at the
marina at Port Moselle. Pat flew back to Brisbane on Saturday
August 11th and I flew in I am the cook and I speak French).
On Sunday, we went to the big market near the Marina and stocked
up on fruit and veg. Then we drove the hire car out to Carrefour,
a huge supermarket on the outskirts of the town and did the rest
of the food shopping. Early Monday morning, we took the washing
in to a nearby laundry and persuaded the manageress to have it
washed and dried by 1p.m. The car was returned, the marina fees
paid and TROPICAL CAT motored out of the marina by 1.30 p.m.
That night, we anchored at an island in a big bay opposite the
domestic airport. There were two local yachts there. At night
the shore lit up with thousands of lights. It was a tranquil
night. No thudding noises of kids running up and down the marina
We were up at sunrise and sailed off when the sun strengthened.
Later that morning I took a photo of Isle Porc Epine, which looked
like a cushion stuck with pins, the pins being the pines, araucaria
columnaris, which were commented on by Capt Cook. We had lunch
at the Baie Ngo where we could see two nickel mines and a coconut
plantation which were typical features of the New Caledonian
landscape. We went around to the Baie Ire and had a walk on the
maroon sand. Dud found four juicy coconuts. That evening, he
caught a remora, which was cut up for bait.
The next day we motored over to the Baie de Prony, the best known
bay south of Noumea. It has a massive nickel mine with a giant
conveyor belt and its own wharf. Tucked away on the other side
of the bay, we found the remains of a19th century penal settlement
set in a sub-tropical jungle. There were some amazing banyan
trees that had spread their roots over the walls. A natural spring
gushed into a water trough. The locals had restored and painted
the powder magazine. Dudley picked up a pair of Raybans near
it. We walked on to a village built on the site of the convict
settlement. We saw the log slide used for the timber that was
felled by the prisoners and sent to Noumea. Here we were approached
by a Frenchman who had lost his Raybans. We handed them over.
That night we anchored in a quiet cove. We could see the lights
of the mine in the distance. We awoke to birdsong and a beautiful
morning. After breakfast, we left for the Isle of Pines. It was
a spectacular sail through the reefs to get to the Ilot Moenoro
in an area called Gadgi. There are strange coral outcrops topped
by trees. The overall effect is like a mushroom. It was cool,
windy and overcast but the sand on the little beach was white
and the water aqua. There were six yachts in the anchorage. It
is a favourite spot for underwater activities.
Next morning was grey and drizzly. It fined up a little in the
afternoon so we moved on to the Baie de Kuto. This is where the
action is. The cruise ship PACIFIC SUN was moored at the entrance.
Lots of boats were anchored off a beautiful beach. There was
a large wharf for the tourist cat and a small jetty where dinghies
could be tied up and yachts could come in to fill up with water.
The convict ruins were nearby. A shop that sold fresh bread was
in walking distance. Great!
BUT it was Friday and the guidebook said there was a market at
Vao, the principle town on Saturdays so we sailed off to find
it. We stayed in a quiet bay opposite the town that night. Early
next day, we went across to the Baie de St. Maurice, anchored
TROPICAL CAT and went ashore to find the market. The natives
were friendly and showed us the way. There were several yachties
there buying up loads of fruit and veg. They had come by car.
We found the local store that sold fresh baguettes, frozen meat,
eggs and everything else you might need. Dudley bought a Magnum.
On the sail back to Kuto we had guests. At the market Dud had
met a N.Z. couple who had never been on a catamaran. They jumped
at the offer of a trip on TROPICAL CAT. They couldn't believe
how well the boat sailed in a light wind and how flat it sat
in the water. I served morning tea. When we got back to Kuto,
we met their friends Jenny and Eddie. We then met a cruising
Swiss family and an Austrian couple. There were a dozen international
yachts in the Baie de Kuto.
We spent four more days around the Isle of Pines. This is the
most famous beauty spot in New Caledonia but we could not catch
any fish and it kept raining. Dave was fed up so on the fifth
day we left for Noumea. By 3 pm, we were back in the big bay
opposite the domestic airport anchored at the Ilot Ngea.
In the morning, we sailed around to Port Moselle. It was raining.
Unfortunately, the marina there was full so we contacted the
marina at Port du Sud. Luckily, we got a berth. A French friend,
Joseh helped to tie us up. He lived at the marina on his motor
cat. That night we went to a great restaurant with Joseh, his
family and his friends Danielle and Regis.
Next day, a Sunday, Dud, Dave and I took a bus to the Jean-Marie
Tjibao Cultural Centre. Its architecture is amazing. Inside are
paintings, sculpture and photographs of the Kanaks of New Caledonia.
It also has a fine library and bookshop.
Monday was sunny and windy so we sailed off up the West coast
to the Baie de St Vincent. We stopped at a coral island the Ilot
Mba where we saw the famous tricot rayeh sea snakes resting up
the beach and digesting their food. We also saw sea cucumbers
in the shallows. The weather was sunny and the scenery was pleasant
with hills and bays and occasional mining scars but no fish.
Then finally on August 31st, our twenty-fourth day in New Caledonia,
Dave caught a beautiful coral trout on the trawling line. We
were doing 3kts with the jib half out, drifting over coral when
the fish jumped up on the lure. Encouraged by this, Dud and Dave
motored out towards the reef where they landed a cod, a parrot
fish and a mackerel.
After that, we went into the bay near Bourail and anchored under
a cliff. It was a long dinghy ride across the bar and into the
river. We tied up at the Dive Club ramp at the beach side suburb
of La Roche. I asked a woman walking on the beach about the distance
to town. She said it was 6 kms. There was no bus or taxi so people
hitched. However, if we wanted to go into town, she would give
us coffee next morning and a ride into the supermarket.
We found her house and met the family. Emmanuelle was a nurse,
her husband Jean-Michel was the Deputy-Principal of the Catholic
secondary school and Baptiste and Vincent were their young sons.
Jean-Michel and Baptiste took us shopping as Emmanuelle had guests
coming for lunch. Jean-Michel who spoke good English drove us
back via La Roche Percee and the Bonhomme, two famous landmarks
Dud invited the family for a sail that afternoon. They arrived
at 3.30 pm. We had a lovely trip to the reef and back. Jean-Michel
and his sister Marianne had sailed in France and felt comfortable
on board. The boys ran wild. I was terrified that they would
fall off. When we got back, Baptiste was diving off the boat!
Next morning was Monday. Dave was given a lift into town by Emmanuelle's
friend. He had to find out about the bus to Noumea. He hitched
back with a neighbour of Emmanuelle's. In his backpack were the
sausages, salad and baguettes for the BBQ we gave the Rabut family
on board that night. Dud charred the sausages while Dave entertained
We spent over a week at La Roche, going
into Bourail with Jean-Michel or Marianne and meeting more locals.
They all spoke some English. On the Thursday morning, Jean-Michel
drove Dave to the bus station at 7.30 am. Dave's holiday was
over. He caught a bus to Tontouta. The next morning, he flew
to Australia. On November 10th he would fly back to sail TROPICAL
CAT home to Brisbane.
In August and September, the prevailing wind was S.E / E from
5 to 15 kts. There are reefs everywhere. Good charts are essential.