Thursday, 26 July 2012

Episode 9 New Cal’s Southern West Coast and Isle of Pines



French Lesson 101:
ilot, ile and isle is island and baie is bay. That’ll help wonders….

At the end of Episode 8 we had made it safely to Noumea and had enjoyed 5 days clearing in, cleaning up and exploring the city.

On Tuesday 26th June we re-provisioned Lorelei after going to the local F&V markets and the supermarket. It was pretty funny with our limited French phrases.
Tuesday was a busy day in the city with the P&O liner the “Pacific Pearl” in town. It left at sunset and we got some great photos.

Wednesday we departed Noumea and headed North to the Baie of Maa for 2 days to wait out the windy SE winds which were blowing 15-20 knots. It was a beautiful bay which is always flat during the SE trades.

On the way we passed a small resort with some lovely over-the-water style bungalows.

Coming into the Baie of Maa

That arvo we had a fish and enjoyed a beaut sunset.

Thursday was supposed to be overcast and windy so we decided to stay in the bay and put the kayaks in to go for a paddle. Well 5 minutes into the paddle, what little wind there was died and left us with glassy flat seas. So we paddled out of the bay and around the headland to a reef system with a small island.
The glassy conditions made for some fun photos.

Lisa caught 5 fish including 3 coral trout by trolling a soft plastic. At one stage we both got nearly spooled before being busted off by Mackeral.

Today we opened one of the 2x 1kg packs of shredded cheese we brought for $9AUS each at the supermarket. It is finely shredded and tastes just like they grated up a block of Jarlesburg which is Paul’s favourite. Its soooo good compared to the processed stuff we get back home.

On Friday we took Lorelei out to Ilot Signal. The conditions were perfect with a sunny day, no wind and glassy seas. From there we put the big RIB in and went a further 5nm out to the reef edge to the wreck of the Humboldt which is a 220ft long Japanese Longliner that was scuttled in 2001. It is completely intact and lying on its starboard side on sand in 22m of water. It was a fantastic dive with excellent viz. We were able to do full penetrations right into the engine room and freezer sections. The accommodation and wheelhouse areas were full of small fish.

The winches on the bow

Fish under the Bow

Lisa in the freezer

In the arvo we went and explored Ilot Signal.

Note the Aerial Photo on the board…

The limestone signal marker built in 1860. This is where the island gets its name.

Saturday we took Lorelei further out to the outer reef edge and anchored her close to Dumbea Pass so Paul could surf Dumbea Pass Reef Break.
It is a righthander that starts over a shallow coral reef and breaks into the deeper channel. Being the weekend it had a few locals and SUP’s but they all appeared to be sitting wide in the deeper water. It looked like you could take off heaps deeper inside over the reef if you were confident but was there something we didn’t know?  After studying it for a while it got the better of Paul and he put his booties on, dived in, paddled well inside everyone else and got some great waves.

Paul waxing up his new 6’9” Wayne Lynch Tuflite for the first time

Saturday arvo we went spearing for the first time in New Cal.
The biggest concern with eating fish here is the high risk of Cigutera poisoning from the large reef fish. After doing a lot of research we discovered the fish with the highest risk are the predatory reef fish such as Coral Trout, Mackerel, All Lutjanus Species (Emperors, Snappers, Mangrove Jack, etc…), Jobfish and Parrot.
Basically most of the good eating fish!!!
We had also noted that there were none of these species at the fish markets in Noumea. So we had to get inventive. We either blue water speared for Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphinfish or we spear the reef for things like Crayfish, Tuskfish and Cobia. The frustrating thing is there are heaps of large Trout – cause nobobdy wants them!! So we speared a nice Tusky instead.

Sat night we returned to the Bay of Maa for our Sunday R&R day.

Sunday seems to be the best day to take time out as the locals come out with their boats in droves on the weekends so we left the surf and dive sites to them on Sunday while we caught up on maintenance, washing, cooking, etc…
Lisa made lots of yummy treats and Paul’s favourite chocolate peanut cookies!!

Monday it was up early and back to Dumbea Rights for more surfing.  We were able to anchor Lorelei very close to the break. The swell had dropped to 3-4 ft and the lagoon conditions were glassy with no wind and lots of sun. The surf was clean with long waves and Paul was the only surfer out. After a long wave Lisa simply motored in to pick him up in the RIB and tow him back out thru the channel – easy (more like lazy…!!!)

Monday arvo we freedived the Humboldt wreck and speared the surrounding reefs for more Tuskies.

Tues we woke and looked out to check Dumbea Rights and it was flat. The swell had dropped and what little wind there was had swung to the SSE from the SW which was perfect for where we wanted to go next – Amedee Island.
Amedee is close to the Bolouri Pass and a popular day trip island with the tallest lighthouse in New Cal.
We motored for 2.5 hours from Dumbea to Amedee stopping on the way to pick up a nautilus shell we saw floating. We then stopped 1.5nm short of Amedee to use Lorelei’s high powered sounder to locate the wrecks of the French Warship La Dieppoise and the Japanese Longliner Toho 5. We are pretty sure we have located them both and will take the RIB over to dive on them later on in the week.
Tuesday arvo we went ashore onto Amedee and walked around the island and climbed the lighthouse.

Amedee Island (Dad and Keith - reckon it looks a lot like the Low Isles?)

Looking up the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse

The view from the top. Lorelei is the only yacht there.

On the walk around the island we found a Stripped Sea Snake slithering along the sand.

At dusk we kicked back and opened a bottle of French Beaujolais (Red Wine) which we can pick up at the supermarket for $5 aussie. It’s great for the price….

The glow on the skin is from the sun not the wine – honest…!!!

Paul woke Wednesday and stuck his head out to check the surf break on Boulari Pass and it was flat. The sky was dark and overcast, it was cold, raining and the viz was crap both above and below the water. So we decided it was a great day to stay indoors….

One thing we are thankful for is our new Generator. We brought this off friends Dave and Rebs just before we left Brisbane as they had only had it a few months but needed to upsize to a larger model Genset for their boat. We weren’t sure how much we would use it but with the overcast conditions it is proving very useful as it can run our Xantrex battery charger and either of the hot water systems at the same time which is fantastic. With the current daytime temperature being about 21-24 degrees we feel this is a little cool for us and the hot showers are a little bit of luxury.

Thursday was looking much better so we loaded up the dive gear and headed over to what we thought was the La Dieppiose warship wreck. It took us a while to find it as someone had moved it from the co-ordinates we took two days ago. We also found a mooring just below the surface so we simply tied up and off we went. It was a superb dive and one of the better wrecks we have done. The confusing thing was when we went below decks we found big freezer spaces and the clincher was when Paul went into the engine room and all the signs were in Japanese!!! So it looks like we dived the Toho 5 Longliner. A look at a few articles on our computer that we saved off the net confirmed that we were definitely not on the Warship. The good thing is we now have another wreck to dive tomorrow… if we find it this afternoon.

We are trying to get a bit tricky as we have now put our first video clip onto the blog. It’s a 2:30 snippet of some of the footage Lisa got from the Toho. We hope it works for you all and would like some feedback if it doesn’t. We hope to do more in the future if it’s a success. Enjoy!!

Our favourite u/w photo so far this trip…

Lisa coming around the bridge

Anchor winch on the bow

In the arvo we did go out in the RIB with Lisa’s Ipad & sounder and managed to find the Warship. With a mask on and a quick dunk over the side we could make out the vessels wheel house and shape to confirm that it was definitely the one. It is only 300m for the Toho and the same depth which is why we got a bit confused this morning. Our other mark which we thought was the Toho is further away and must be something else.
Can’t wait till tomorrow now!!

Friday - it’s another flat day, the suns out and we dived the Warship!! It was awesome and had us buzzing all day after it. Even though it’s a scuttled wreck for diving it is not nearly as clinical as the way they prepare the wrecks in Australia. Far less stuff is removed and there are no holes cut though the sides for easy access. We much prefer it this way, although getting to places like the engine room can be more of a challenge.
Here’s Paul’s photos and Lisa’s video.

The Bow from the Sand

Lisa and Fish in between the props

Lisa in the Wheelhouse

To avoid the weekend crowd, went back to Lorelei, packed up the dive gear and set sail SE to Baie Ire which is in Canal Woodin between the Mainland and Ile Ouen.
On the Way we sailed past a stack of wind farms on the hills and some amazing terrain.
The anchorage was deserted and beautiful.

The Canal looked very small from a distance

Anchored at Baie Ire which we have nicknamed Jurassic Bay

Saturday morning we washed all our toys from the last week and filled the scuba tanks.
In the afternoon we put the kayaks in and were amazed by what we saw both above and below the water.
We had been warned about the red mud in the bay and how it stains so we assumed by the dark red beach around the shoreline would be the same.
When we paddled in closer we found up against the shore pristine and diverse coral gardens that are so far the best we have seen in New Cal.
On the shores edge was a mix of pines, palms, mangroves, pandanus and banksia’s all growing well next to each other. It was surreal.

The amazing Baie Ire coral. Not at all what we expected.

They’re Brain Corals in the water – not rocks.

Paul climbing the Palms for green coconuts

Sunday morning we left Baie Ire and continued through the Canal Woodin and onto the Baie de Prony which is the southern most bay on the mainland. The Bay is a large system with many protected anchorages & small arms offering loads of things to do both on and off the water. The guide books liken it to Sydney’s Broken Bay and Hawkesbury River System.
With a large high bringing SE trade winds for the next 5 days, it is the perfect spot to hangout until the wind swings E/NE for the 45nm run down to Isle de Pines.
When we exited the canal we copped some strong winds and ugly short sharp seas that put water all over the boat. Luckily it was only a 30 minute run across this stretch of water before entering the Baie.
When I mean bad conditions – the seas were over 1m and maximum wind was 17 knots - the strongest we have see since arriving here. We wouldn’t even blink at going out in those winds in The Whitsundays. This place is making us soft!!!

Monday was a jam packed day. In the morning we got up early and put the kayaks in and explored the bay Lorelei was anchored in – Anse Majic. We then went and explored both bays either side of us as well. It was a huge morning and we estimated we paddled over 7 km’s.

Paul took 100’s of photos to get 4 good half and half shots today.
This is our favourite one.

See the coral thru the reflection…

After lunch we hopped back in the kayaks and paddled to shore with 3 dry bags full of our hiking and camera gear. We got changed on shore and then hiked up to the Lighthouse on Cape Ndoua. It was a steady climb with lots of wash-outs but the views from the top were worth it.

Just one of the massive slippages we can see on all the hills from Lorelei

Looking West to Ile Ouen and Canal Woodin

Looking East…

Looking South. Note: Whale Spotting station and soil colour.

Looking North to Baie Du Prony.
Lorelei is just visible at the bottom. The only yacht in the bay…again!

Look!! We spotted a whale…

Tuesday we decided to move again and this time went right up into the Baie Du Prony and anchored in Baie Du Carenage. It is very protected and well known as a cyclone hole during the Monsoon season.  On the way we went past heaps more Wind Generators. They are huge and must be at least 8-10 stories high. We counted 57 on one ridge that we could see.

Just some of the Wind Generators

The small entrance into Baie Du Carenage

In the arvo we put the kayaks in and explored the eastern arm of the bay. The water around the mangroves was very clear and we could see lots of small Mangrove Jack, Trevally and other fish. Lisa found a Giant QLD Grouper which was pretty cool.
We followed the river up to a hot springs bath and 2 cascade systems where we kayaked as far as we could go then climbed to the top.

The Hot Springs Pool – a bit better fitted out than we were expecting considering we are miles from anywhere…

It is interesting to note that the fresh water cascading down was warmer than the salt water of the bay which is unusual and probably indicates we are anchored over one big underground system of geo-thermal activity.

Wednesday morning – Well the French Carrefour food brand has come through again for Paul. First it was the cheese and now it’s the Caramel X’trem brekky cereal. Lisa thinks they are far too sweet but Paul with his sweet tooth thinks they are the goods. Roddy I wish I could mail you home a pack - just think what these would do to your kids…

Wednesday it rained and it blew and it rained and it blew. We were sort of glad because the boat really needed a good wash – and Lisa needed a day off from Hogger boot camp.
So we used the time off in the morning to do research and planning on more dive spots and places to explore both here in New Cal and Vanuatu. We were lazy and watched movies in the arvo.

Thursday morning it was in with the kayaks again to explore the Western arm of the bay which promised more hot springs and waterfalls. The spring was not as good as yesterdays and was on a small rocky outcrop in the middle of the river. The waterfall was a cascade system and was beautiful. It was a mission however to get the kayaks up to the base of the cascades as we had to negotiate two large series of shallow rock races to get there. We paddled for hours exploring lots of shoreline and inlets.

How’s this for an impassable wash out on the road near the river…

Up one of the small inlets we found the remains of what we think is part of one of the old Penal Colonies.

Friday morning we loaded the scuba gear into the RIB to go and dive the Aiguille De Prony or the Prony Needle. The needle is a tall spire that was created by freshwater erupting from an underwater volcanic hot spring. The base is in 40m of water and goes up to 2m under the surface. It’s located in the small channel that leads up to the Baie Du Carenage.
A good analogy – think of putting Steve’s Bommie in the middle of Smiths Creek in the Hawkesbury River and you’ve got it !!
When we got to it we found the top of the needle was only 2m across and had very steep sides. 10m either side of the top and the sounder was showing 40m. The viz was also terrible at around 4m and that was 1 hour before high tide. More than one of our guide books also indicates that this is a well known spot for Hammerheads and Tigers. So with that in mind, crap viz, steep sides, a deep bottom and being Friday the 13th we finally decided to abort and live to play another day…
Back on Lorelei Lisa went bezerk in the galley over lunch and made a stack of yummy things for the rest of the week.
In the arvo we went fishing. We threw lures and trolled around the bay and the mangroves. Lisa has been using this one soft plastic for weeks now and won’t give it up. She trolls it, casts it and bottom fishes with it and it works well doing all three. She has caught a load of fish on it.
Today she caught 2 large Wolf Herring that were jumping all over the place once hooked.

Check out those teeth…

Saturday 14th July – Bastille Day!!
To be completely honest we are not exactly sure what Bastille Day represents and we would have liked to join the celebrations in Noumea and learn a little more about it’s history but it was just too far away.
We woke to a clear sunny day which was awesome after 4 days of overcast and cool conditions. We decided to move to a small resort Island in the middle of Baie Du Prony called Ilot Casy. It has coral completely surrounding the Island and there are mooring buoys provided. We were the first ones there and we put the kayaks in and paddled right around the Island which was a heap of fun and much better for photos now we had some sun! We snorkeled and towed the Kayaks for the last 400m.

By the time we got back to Lorelei the white locals had turned up on their boats in party mode akin to Aussies on Australia Day. They were drinking, swimming, playing music, singing and generally having a blast. Funny thing is they sing the popular modern songs in English. We couldn’t complain – they seemed to love the band The White Stripes – and so do we!
Late in the arvo Paul paddled ashore and walked to the peak and had a look around.
We loved it here and it would have been nice if we could have stayed for another day. In hindsight we should have….

Sunday was the day we set sail for the Ile De Pins (Isle of Pines).
We had to sail 45nm SE which at this time of the year with the constant SE trade winds is no easy task. We have been watching the weather reports for over 1 week now waiting for some N-NE winds and we have known Sunday was going to be the day for the last 5 days with nice 13-15 knot sailing conditions – or so we thought…!!!
We let the mooring go at 6am and once clear of Ilot Casy, set the sails. The wind in the bay was already 15-18 knots and we were a little wary so we put reefs in the sails. Luckily we did as it got worse the further south we went. By 10am it was ugly with ENE 20-25 knots and steep, short nasty seas. It was a hard slog south as we had to weave between a lot of reefs and small islands all the while sailing to windward. All in all it was damn uncomfortable and we got a lot of green water over the boat.

Note the toe rail underwater and Paul’s kayak and deck covered in water.

About 15 minutes after this photo was taken conditions went from bad to worse. We were getting slammed and had to furl the headsail right in and put out the storm jib. A wall of water smashed into the bow so hard it ripped Paul’s kayak free and snapped the webbing straps holding it down. It was pretty full on for Paul trying to get it put back into place and roped down while Lisa back off the sails and steered us off the wind for a bit.
At 1:30pm we sailed into a beautiful and tranquil Baie De Kuto in the Isle of Pines. We were the second boat to arrive that day and we watched another 4 boats come in all looking as disheveled as we had and with their crew in full wet weather gear and boats looking a mess.
Just to confirm we all weren’t totally dumb, we did log onto the New Cal Weather Website in the arvo and yep its still saying today where we are is a comfortable NE10-15 with less than 1m seas.  WRONG!!!
We spent over 1 hour washing the boat and tidying up before getting some food, watching the sunset over the pines and opting for an early night to bed with both of us feeling a little off colour from the whole experience.
Aside from our North West Island storm battering in Feb, this has been the most uncomfortable sail we have had since starting our trip last year.

Monday – Well the weather gods must have felt sorry for us all as Monday was a fantastic day with the best weather we have had since we’ve been here. It was over 27 Degrees, sunny, no wind and believe it or not – glassy seas!
We loaded up the RIB with spear gear and headed 3nm offshore to a promising patch of reef we found on the charts. While ciguatera is still a small risk here, it’s lower than the local stressed reefs out from Noumea however smaller fish are still safer. We anchored on a drop-off and dived in to find Spanish swimming around under us like bait fish. They were coming right up to Lisa’s fins. The Spanish were all huge so it was a challenge to pick out the smallest ones. Paul landed the first on his second dive with his smaller 110 gun.

The next dive Lisa put a great holding shot into a bigger Spanish that would easily have been her PB. Unfortunately during the tussle the rope on the muzzle bungie snapped resulting in a lost shaft and fish. We finished the session with 5 fish including a couple of trout.
On the way home we stopped to visit some of the surrounding islands.

Bayonaisse Island

A bit flatter than yesterday... Isle De Pins in the background

The arvo was glassy and warm enough to jump off and swim around the boat which was anchored in only 5m of water. We had Trevally and other fish under the boat with turtles and manta rays swimming around Lorelei.
We also went over and gave some Spanish fillets to the very appreciative guys on the Kiwi mono next to us.

The sunset was one of the most spectacular we have ever seen. Every 3 minutes the diorama would change with different colours, reflections and cloud patterns both around the sunset and behind us over the hills where the clouds went vivid hues of pink.
Every person on the surrounding boats and ashore was out clicking away with cameras.

Tues we woke to find the P&O cruise liner the Pacific Pearl anchored in the bay. Looking to shore and we could see a hive of activity with the locals setting up for the soon to be hoards of tourists arriving. We put the RIB in and went to shore to get among it and see what was to offer. Unfortunately there was no traditional Kunie food, dancing, carvings or customs, just lots of souvenir stalls and a few weaved hats. It also seems that P&O does not brief their passengers on where not to go (sacred tribal spots), local laws, customs and taboos. We were pretty disappointed. We saw a few Tourists who were rude to the local Kunie people. It’s no wonder they don’t like the whites – only their money.
We walked out of town to the local bakery. They had sold out of Baguettes so we brought these “Big Breads” which are only $2 each and huge.

Look at the size of these “Big Breads”

Opposite the bakery is the old jail. We had read about the history of the Island and how in 1870 they kicked off all the indigenous Kunie’s (another reason why they don’t like us…) and turned the west coast into an island prison for French prisoners sent over on the ships. The prison ruins are well overgrown adding to the somber nature of the place. Fortunately in 1911 the prison system was closed down and the Kunie’s were allowed back to re-settle.

Wednesday and we woke to find the larger Pacific Dawn now in the harbour for what is surely to be a repeat performance of yesterday.
Unfortunately for them at 8:30 it started to drizzle rain. By 10am it really started to pour. We looked out to see a line at the P&O wharf which was over 250m long of drenched people trying to board the ferries to return to the ship. We actually felt quite sorry for them as this was their only chance to see Isle Of Pines before departing for Brisbane at 3pm. It rained and rained all day…
Paul spent the arvo servicing our mountain bikes in preparation for when the weather gets a bit better.
That night as we downloaded the weather we noticed a large high over Australia that was forcing strong winds and seas up the Aust. East Coast. It was pushing a large 3.5m ground swell all the way to us. We could already feel the SE swell invading into our protected bay even though the wind was N and offshore.

Thursday was another amazing day in paradise with beautiful weather. Paul looked out to see large waves breaking down the side of Ilot Moro 2 miles away. A quick look with the binoculars confirmed a series of amazing right handers with spumes of spray off the back indicating it was clean and offshore.
Well that was enough to break out the boards, drag Lisa out of bed and into the RIB to go surfing.
We sat off and watched it for a while before Paul jumped in and surfed 2 different right handers during the morning session. Both were pretty big with the occasional bomb coming thru that would close out on the entire reef enclosed bay. He got some great waves all alone.
After the morning surf we went around to the protected side, found a break in the reef and took the RIB in to explore Ilot Moro. This place was postcard stunning with lovely beaches, crystal clear water and some fantastic limestone formations on the rocky points.

Ilot Moro

While we were there Paul spotted another right hander off a shallow reef point that was a little smaller but producing clean hollow barrels.
On the way back we just had to stop there for an hour for Paul to surf it. It was pretty intense with a 5ft deep take off barreling all the way thru to a finish in only 3ft depth. You didn’t want to fall off or get caught inside.
We wondered how many people have ever surfed these spots. It’s not a recognized surfing area. Paul felt very lucky.

The sucky right-hand barrel Paul surfed after the Island walk.

After a late lunch back on Lorelei we took the RIB ashore on Isle De Pins and walked over the spit to the bay on the other side, Baie De Kanumera.
This place is stunning, being a pine and palm fringed shoreline with an amazing limestone island in the centre called Le Rocher which is linked by a small sandy spit. It’s a sacred spot for the locals and you shouldn’t walk on the island but you can snorkel around it. While the viz was not what you would get on the outer reef, it made up for in the diversity and amount of fish life as well as the stunning above water topography.

The sacred Le Rocher

Baie De Kanumera

Lisa in one of the many Bait Fish schools around Le Rocher

A giant sea cave in Le Rocher

Family and friends know that we are prone to do some pretty out-there things sometimes, especially in the water. Well Friday was definitely up there with the best of them!
We got up early and packed 2 backpacks with every thing we thought we would need, loaded the mountain bikes into the RIB and headed ashore. Our mission was to locate the Grotto De La Troiliseme. This place is a subterranean limestone cave system which we have read is filled with fresh water and is diveable. This is reported to be one of only 3 places in the world where you can cave dive with stalagmites and stalactites.
We left Baie De Kuto and rode 8klms north along the main road and then a further 2 klms of dirt road and walking tracks until we found it.

Arrived at the cave system entrance.

First we took our torch and land camera in to explore and have a look around. The inside of the cave system far surpassed any expectations we had as far as size and the amount of limestone formations. It was breath taking. After climbing a long way down we found the fresh water pools.

The entrance to the caves

Just some of the above water formations.Those columns are over 50ft tall.

After we had a good look around we went to the surface to get our snorkeling gear, suited up and trekked back down to pool no.2. The craziest thing was we couldn’t actually tell where the water’s edge began as it was that clear and not a ripple! The underwater viz was endless with not a single particle in the water. We spent over 1 hour exploring the many different arms and caverns. We found an underwater shaft linking both of the main pools which we could just get through as the stalactites from the roof of the tunnel made it very tight. Freediving through submerged passages and tunnels using torchlight was a little freaky at first but we did it safely and were rewarded with discovering some big caverns. The underwater formations were just as incredible with thousands of stalactites going down from the roof into the water. You had to be very careful when and where you surfaced.

The first pool we discovered and found an underwater passage back into from pool no.2. Note how clear the water is…we threw a pebble in so you could see the water surface.
Lisa underwater with her torch at the entrance to Pool no.2.

Don’t be fooled by the photos. With no torch light it was pitch black and these above water photos were taken with a long 13 second exposure F3.5 with a 6400ISO setting.
We tried to take some underwater photos with our little contour camera but the 70 degree angle of the torch and the 170 degree wide angle lens of the camera didn’t match up too well. Below is about the best we have. It’s from underwater looking up so you can see the mirror surface and the stalactites near perfect reflections.

After 3 hours below ground we were stuffed and hungry so we hopped on the bikes again and rode a further 4 klms north to the Baie De Ouameo and had our peanut butter sandwiches sitting by the pool at the Kodjeue Resort.
All in all we were blown away by what we had done in the caves and no amount of photos and text can describe how special it was. It is definitely one of the best things we have ever done and topped of by the fact we did it all by ourselves.
In the arvo we rode home sightseeing on the way. By the time we reached Baie De Kuto we were stuffed. We are a little rusty from the lack of riding and the normally easy 30klm ride did us in (plus the 3 hours caving didn’t help either).

That night the wind turned to the SW earlier than expected and while it was only light, the forecast now had SW winds for the next 5-6 days. This leaves virtually every decent bay in the Isle of Pines exposed except for right at the very top and we didn’t want to go there. We packed up in preparation to leave at first light the next day.

Saturday morning we pulled out of Baie De Kuto and headed NW back to the Canal Woodin and anchored at Baie Ire (Our favourite Jurassic Bay). It was a 45nm run and we arrived mid afternoon.
On the way we trolled and were discussing how we really wanted to get a Tuna for Sushi and Sashimi. In a perfect world a small Yellowfin would be the ultimate so we put out the lures more suited to them. The planning paid off because ½ way though the trip that’s exactly what we got. Stoked!! Fresh Sashimi for dinner…

Yellowfin Sushi and Sashimi

Sunday 22nd July we motored the last 20nm thru the Canal Woodin and towards Noumea. With the SW winds we knew there were limited places in Noumea Harbour to anchor so we decided to go to a great little bay around from the Harbour called Baie Uere and do all our washing and cleaning before going in to re-provision.
The bay was beautiful with a circular shoreline spanning nearly 270 degrees making it very protected.
It’s obviously a great spot for the locals and being Sunday arvo it was packed with every sort of water craft imaginable. The weather was beaut and they were all having a great time. By 4pm 95% of the boats had left and just 3 cruising yachts remained.
Being the 22nd today means we have been in New Cal 1 month. Wow it seems so long and we feel we have done so much in those 4 weeks.

So now we are back in Noumea. We plan to spend 2-3 days exploring the outer areas of the city including the popular tourist area Anse Vata on our bikes. We will then re-provision with Fresh F&V and more of Paul’s yummy Carrefour cheese and brekky cereal!
We hope to be out of here by Sunday 29th and on our way North.

For the next 4 weeks (August) we plan to leave Noumea and head north up the West Coast with the first stop being Baie De St Vincent and the area around Ile Tenia. Tenia has a mixture of great surfing and diving and lots of protected bays very close to the outer reef so hopefully we will spend some time there. From there it is up to Bourail for more surf and to find some more placid waves for Lisa to wax up her new board too.

All in all things are great. The local Indigenious Kanak and Kunie’s we have met have all been really friendly to us and everyone is tolerant of our limited French. While the weather has been a little cool and overcast at times, there hasn’t been a lot of rain and the wind has been mainly light aside from our one day jaunt to Isle De Pins.
We are both safe and well and Lorelei is going like a dream with pretty much any minor teething issues all sorted out from the refit.

So that’s it from our largest blog to date. Hope you enjoyed it.
We did!!

Cheers for now from The Hoggers – Team Lorelei…

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