29 August 2009 | Ile Huen, New Caledonia
Two nights and a day with steady SE tradewinds brought us from Santo to Ile Huen, a large coral atoll in the middle of nowhere. Why not two days and one night, you ask? We calculated our departure to ensure a landfall during midday, since we needed good visibility to see the bommies (coral heads) in the lagoon. We anchored in front of a long narrow white sand islet, uninhabited except for the thousands of boobies and other seabirds who make their home here, as well as turtles who lay their eggs in the sand. We dinghied ashore to stretch our legs, burn our trash and do some beach combing. Just as I stepped out of the dinghy into the shallow water, a small black-tipped shark swam by. A sign on the top of the grassy ridge proclaimed the island and surrounding reef a World Heritage site, and gave directions for counting turtle tracks, but we didn't see any. We did see lots of nesting boobies, some black on top and white on bottom, and some just the reverse, and some fluffy babies. Then we snorkeled around the coral just off the beach. Back aboard, it was so nice to be able to cook without having to hang on, take a hot shower and have a good night's rest, to the sound of waves breaking along the reef. Now we're on our way to our next stopover, the Chesterfield Reef, conveniently located on our course toward Bundaberg.