23 November 2013
On to New Caledonia – the last stop before Australian waters: We waited about 5 days for a weather opportunity to move on to New Caledonia, along with a dozen or so boats heading South, almost all to New Zealand, but a few going our way. By late November, the Summer cyclone/typhoon season comes to the tropics including Vanuatu and New Caledonia, so by late October, all the cruising boats get ready to move on, most South to New Zealand, or some Australia, but a few also head North back across the Equator to Indonesia or the Philippines. We left on Tuesday 22nd October, which would get us into Noumea, Capital of New Caledonia, and the only port of entry by Friday with any luck, in time to meet 3 more family guests there on Saturday 26th. We had been more or less heading West since Panama with the prevailing winds, but now had to make 340 miles to the South West. For a while it looked like we would not be able to sail this way at all, and would have to make the long journey around the top of New Caledonia adding 200 miles to the trip and lots of motoring, but finally the wind had just enough East in it to let us sail to Noumea direct, although this was our first passage sailing into the wind since Belize back in March. We made good enough time to come through the outer islands of New Caledonia on Friday morning and get into Noumea Harbour by sunset. The Harbour was to our surprise packed with hundreds of sailing boats, most at anchor as the two small marinas were overflowing. Who they all were and where they were all going we never really found out. We worried that arriving after hours on a Friday would cause all the usual problems with officials, but not here – this is part of France and the EU, so everything is helpful, easy going and free. The photo is our Halloween party onboard - explanation in the next blog from Noumea.