Friday, October 13, 2017

Enroute New Caledonia

AFter a nice snorkel in the cold waters of Baie de Doking (or Baie de Joking) - the water was 81*F - we got a little rest for the afternoon. Then picked up and motor sailed down the leeward side of the Lifou island at around 6pm. We headed far enough south in the dark until we figured to could sail hard on the wind to Grand Terre, the main island of New Caledonia. It was boisterous sail till just before dawn when the winds laid down. We took a mooring at Ile Casy, Baie De Prony right next to our old friends Art and Nancie on Secondwind (out of Ashland, OR). They came over bearing duty-free Gin and Tonics. The duty free stuff definitely tastes better. We need to sit tight for the weekend so we can head in the next 25 miles to Noumea on Monday morning to clear customs.



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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Enroute to New Caledonia

We left Havannah Harbour in Vanautu at about 7am after spending the last of our Vatu at the Wahoo restaurant the night before. It was an uncomfortable, but fast 26 hour close reach down to Baie de Doking, Lifou Island. Lifou is in the Loyalties group, the most eastern islands of New Caledonia. We did a nice snorkel and plan to get some rest for the rest of the day. Then we'll head out again around mid-night to sail the 115 miles to Baie de Prony o our way to Noumea. We plan to clear into New Cal on Monday in Noumea.

Baie de Doking anchorage at 20* 42.31S 167*09.66E on a small sand patch in 50feet.



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Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Little Bislama

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After Erromongo we sailed up to Efate island and into the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila. It’s an easy town to get around and reprovision. I’ve spoke a couple of times in the blog about the Bislama language spoken in Vanuatu. It is a fairly sophisticated pidgin English. You can often understand what is written and sometimes understand a small amount when you hear it spoken.

One of the most endearing expressions is tenk yu tumas. Thank you very much. If you look at these papayas in the market, you’ll notice that the sign says  No Prestem Po Po. Don’t squeeze paw paws!

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Emergency instructions for Etkwek (earthquake) and Tsunami posted in the village.

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Here’s a more complicated message letting every parent know about the fees that are due for school.

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The National Museum of Vanuatu – pretty easy to translate.

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The museum has a good collection of artifacts from early Vanuatu populations and some good discussions on the culture. Vanuatu is known for the tradition of sand painting. The sand is smoothed out and then a picture is drawn with one finger without lifting it while a story, related to the picture, is told. These stylized pictures represent events from Vanuatu’s history, ancient and more modern. This one was done by a young lady during a demonstration in the museum. It tells the sotry of one village’s experience with the Blackbirding ships that came to the islands and essentially press-ganged local men to go work in the Australian cane fields. An estimated 40,000 ni-Vanuatu were ‘recruited’ between 1863 and 1904. Some islands, like Erromongo, were hit very hard and the population is still recovering.

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We sailed around to the NW corner of Efate to the area called Havannah Harbour. It was the location of the original colonial settlements. They were moved to Port Vila after a drought (the west sides of the islands are typically dryer due to the prevailing SE Tradewinds). During World War II this was an American naval and air base in support of the attack on Guadalcanal.

Going up the bay we saw this two masted boat on the reef. From a distance it looks like a normal sized cruising ketch. But up close it is really a mega-yacht. The catamaran that is in the picture above to the right of the ketch is 45 feet long. The yacht is named Blue Gold and it went on the reef during Cyclone Pam in 2015. The owner was arrested in Switzerland and charged in the Netherlands over various financial issues apparently not related to the yacht.

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Blue Gold is being watched by one of the islanders living close by and has not been stripped. Up close the steel hull looks in good shape and ready for salvage. The water off its stern is deep, so salvage should be fairly straight forward. Just when the salvage will occur is an open question.

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This is the bay that Blue Gold was in when it broke free during the cyclone. We anchored just off to the left. If you look closely there are a couple of yellow mooring balls in the picture. When we anchored there were four large yellow moorings arraigned in a square. These were installed, after Pam, as cyclone moorings for larger ships. When we woke in the morning, one of the yellow moorings had drifted off to another location?????????

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Not ones to miss out on a world class museum, we took the dinghy for a long ride in to find the WW II Museum. It took asking three different people to actually locate it, but of course it was well worth it. With a motto like Rust In Peace how could you not like it?

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Once inside you find out that the focus of the museum seems to be old bottles, with Coca Cola bottles leading the way. Here Chris is looking at some of the latest Coke finds. The guy in the red shirt is the grandson of the museum founder and the current operator. If you are old enough you probably remember that Coke bottles had the bottling company city and state embossed in the glass on the bottom of each bottle. I remember working in a welding shop as a kid. At break time we would through in a few quarters to a pot and who ever got the break-time Coke bottle from the furthest away bottling plant was the winner. Since all the bottles had a nickel deposit and were re-used in those days, bottles ended up getting distributed all over the country and world. Chris is looking at a bottle marked from Albuquerque NM, her old home town.

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The museum also has some serious art work and some unexploded ordinance as well.

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Flowers for sale in the market.

We cleared out of Vanuatu today in Port Vila. A quick trip to Immigration and then Customs stopped by our boat. We will hang out for a few days until we see a good weather window, then we are off to Noumea, New Caledonia. The passage should take 2 to 3 days.

Gut naet (good night)

Paul