Slow Sailing

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The past few days

14 September 2014 | Ouvea, Loyalty Islands
Heather
From New Caledonia 2014

9/9

We've become aware that August is known as a rainy month in New Cal. But its September and it rained all day today. And some yesterday on our bike ride to the other side of the island. I was looking through a book we have today called "1000 Places To See Before You Die". If you can imagine, New Caledonia isn't listed in the book. I'm actually surprised, given that there are some pretty interesting things here none the least of which is the world under the water. In the past couple of days, we've done some top notch diving & snorkeling. I remember the customs guy sitting in our cockpit in Noumea asking us incredulously why we planned to stay in New Cal for over 2 months, especially for diving. He specifically inquired as to why we weren't in the Caribbean, Fiji or anyplace else because he didn't think New Cal was as good. Au contraire we told him, New Cal has great diving (although at first we started to doubt ourselves) and indeed, it does!

From New Caledonia 2014

And after de-briefing ourselves from the dog incident and again after a crummy bike ride yesterday, we agree that we are really mainly here for the diving anyway. We get the traditional lifestyles, the island feel, the tropical vibe, but the diving is something we can't get enough of. It is an addiction of sorts. And we know we'll be breaking the habit soon since we'll most likely be looking for a weather window to Australia within a month. So far, we haven't heard glowing reports on Australia's diving but we'll believe it when we see it. Now land travel is another matter. It would seem we're going to have plenty to see & do. I can't wait to see koalas, kangaroos, platypus and dingos. Can do without jellyfish, snakes, spiders, crocs and great whites. We both have our visas now so can show up any time which is reassuring.

From New Caledonia 2014

The cruising guide for Lifou said that scuba diving Recif Shelter- about 2 ½ miles from the southern baie du Santal anchorage is fabulous so we dinghied out there with Mark & Anne. Right off the bat, we headed into a big canyon that continued into a large cave and out into another canyon on the other side. It was just beautiful. I can never seem to get over how packed a reef can be with all sorts of colors & shapes and sizes. It is really overwhelming to try to take it all in. Making frequent glances into the open looking for pelagics and then turning back to focus on tiny creatures is hard on the eyes but there's so much its distracting. We found some new nudibranchs & flatworms and I always get a chuckle out of how excited we all get. I was reading something in DAN magazine about how SE Asia is the place for "nudibranch nuts". So I don't suspect you'll get any break from looking at nudibranch pictures! I guess what it is is they are so perfect, so pretty, so hard to find. Like pieces of living candy. And once you find them, they're easy to photograph, unlike fish where you usually get their butt as they're swimming away. It pays to have 4 sets of eyes, insuring we see at least a couple on every dive. The clams are exquisite here too, hard to believe they're real. Anyway, it is very encouraging to see such beautiful spots even if there are no lobsters or crabs among the coral heads. The only sizable lobster we've seen here in New Cal that wasn't on the fish counter was in a marine park in Bay de Prony. Not many big fish either. We talked to a New Caledonian from Noumea who said that the local people are really fishing out their reefs and we can see it. That's the only problem with the reefs here that I can see. It's kind of a universal problem really.

From New Caledonia 2014

From New Caledonia 2014

After the dive, we dinghied over to a lovely snorkeling spot to have some lunch in the dinghy and swim some more. Using satellite maps, we can easily pick dive/snorkel spots now just by looking at the topography of the reefs. It's fantastic! We look for good coral development, drop-offs, pretty colored water and a shoreline that appeals. How far we've come from our first trip to the Bahamas in '97 with our friend Frank where we would use his clear bottomed homemade "look bucket" to see if a reef looked good enough to get in. On the way back to the boat, we were zooming along in the dinghy and saw something in the water right in front of us at the last second, then felt a big splash and saw the telltale white tipped wing of a manta- geez! We seem destined to hit something lately! The we saw another one in the anchorage so I got in and swam with it a little. Nothing like the ones in French Poly- this one wouldn't let me get too close.

The 6 of us decided to go for a bike ride to the island center of We on the eastern side yesterday. We had visions of a nice ride like we had at Isle de Pins. Got off to good start with Gerrit's bike having a blown out tire. Fixed that and then biked along a somewhat boring road without much scenery except for beer cans about every 10 feet. New Cal's famed "Number One" brand beer is #1 here. Lunch wasn't the American style cheeseburger we were craving but instead a baguette sandwich, then we headed into the grocery store with our foolish lists- why do we do this to ourselves?! You get what you get, not what is on your wish list. Better than Fiji or Vanuatu though so not complaining too much. One thing about French islands is they stock frozen vegetables so you're never left stranded.

Jon was making good progress continuing to expand the VentureFarther website until the power supply to his programming laptop packed up and the spare is..... in Vermont! At dinner the other night, we were all lamenting the fact that we have large spaces set aside strictly for cords & chargers. A black mass of tangled wires for GPS's, VHF's, cameras, phones, computers, MP3 players, headphones, printers, scanners, hard drives- it goes on & on. Attempts at labeling or organizing them are futile and if any one breaks, you're generally SOL because most things have their own special cord. With weight & space at a premium when traveling back to the US, we have to save room for a huge bag of cords since you can't leave home without them. And now, until Jon gets a replacement, no more programming. But I'm still dutifully entering waypoints and noting issues that need fixing for when the time comes.

9/14 Ouvea, Loyalty Islands

We sailed 50 miles yesterday to get here to the land of long white sand beaches. Today it is gray & rainy- what's new? But the beach is beautiful. Will write about it soon.
Comments
Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Hello! We are Heather & Jon Turgeon of S/V Evergreen. We started sailing in 1994 on our first boat, a Cape Dory 31, then sought out a Tashiba 40 that could take us around the globe. It has been our home for 19 years. We've thoroughly cruised the East coast and Caribbean and just completed our [...]
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