Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
The Lagoon of New Caledonia - One of the Three Most Extensive Reef Systems in the World.
Wandering Around the Lagoon - 21 August to 13 September 2013
Still, the place is nice and there is an operating lighthouse that you can visit and climb up for a view of all the surrounding reef. While we were there most of the people left by sunset and the place was very quiet at night.
At a mooring in Ilot Amedee
Leaving Port Moselle, our first stop was Ilot Amedee, an island next to the Boulari Pass. It is very pretty and like all islands in the lagoon it is surrounded by reef. There is plenty of fish and lots of turtles. We did not find a good area to anchor, at least for an overnight, but there are about 15 moorings and we were able to get one.
The drawback in this island is that it is very popular with local boats and it gets crowded when half of the island is taken over by a local tour operator that deposits dozen of tourists for a day at the beach. Probably the abundance of fish is due to the glass bottom boat that goes around feeding the fish while lots of people marvel at the view thru the glass.
At Anchor in Ilot Kouare - A wooded island with a white sand beach
The weather was good and we spent 3 glorious days here. Other 2 boats were at anchor and one of them was an Australian couple that had chartered a boat in Port Moselle and were in a wonderful holiday week.
From Amedee we came directly to Ilot Kouare in the southern lagoon. As we were approaching we could see a magnificent scenery. A green island with a white sand beach all around, surrounded by corals and incredible clear turquoise waters.
This is an isolated and uninhabited place, at the south end of the lagoon. There are several places where to drop the anchor in sand as shown in the cruising guide. We anchored first in the West side of the island that turned out to be quite rolly. Next day we moved to the NorthEast side which was fantastic.
At anchor in the west side of Kouare
A long walk along the beach around the island
With several incursions into the beautiful beach, we walked all the way around the island.
One day we spotted some turtles having a swim very close to the beach. We marveled how they were not afraid of us standing around them and we started to film their gentle swim going along with the waves in the shallow waters.
Until one of them put her head out to breath.
It was obvious the surprise she got when she saw us standing there and desperately started swimming out to sea.
Then the second turtle came out to breath, it was the exact same reaction.
Mrs. Turtle, the round shadow in the shallow waters.
On our way back we stopped at Redika. It is a very nice place for snorkelling but it is only good for the day, the anchorage is not safe for an overnight. There is a nice beach as well.
Hilarious to watch the poor turtles transformation from a tranquil swim, to set a wary eye on us and then get into a panic run. Check the movie to get the idea ....
A Day at Ilot Redika
It was a weekend day and it was crowded as is pretty close to Noumea. We thought next time we need to come on a weekday.
At around 4.00 we raised anchor and headed towards Amedee to get a mooring for the night. We were under the wrong impression that it would be easy to get a mooring at night over there.
Good thing we got there with just enough day light as it was impossible to see anything once it got dark. The moorings, contrary to what the marine park booklet says do not have a reflective tape and they are too close to the reef to feel safe looking for a mooring ball in the dark.
A Short Visit - Joan comes along
Back in Noumea for a couple of days to pick up Joan that was brave enough to visit and sail with us around the lagoon.
It was a short and very enjoyable visit. The weather was good and we sailed first to Ilot Amedee. To Oscar's disappointment we aborted the climb to the lighthouse after looking up at the top from the beach, it certainly looked high to us.
On the way back to the dinghy a lazy sea snake gave us some excitement when it decided to go back to the water crossing just under Oscar's legs.
As always in Amedee, we saw many turtles swimming around. Joan enjoyed a good snorkeling before leaving the day after for our next stop, Ilot Larengere. This time the snorkel was amazing, a coral garden with plenty of fish, turtles, sharks and the highlight for Joan, her first encounter with a morea eel. From there we sailed to Baie Maa, a very quiet anchorage, perfect for the BBQ that was on the menu for dinner. Then we came back to the marina at Port Mosselle as the trip was over for Joan that took the early flight for Sydney this morning. It was great to have her company, even when it was just a very short visit.
At anchor in Ilot Uere - 9 to 11 September (22.18.789S - 166.28.655)
The trade winds have been blowing hard for the last week and as we listen to the wind whistling and Zenitude shuddering at the docks in Port Moselle we are trying to plan for next week's sailing. We'd like to go east to Ile des Pins but going east with this wind is not appealing. As the forecast says it will change by Wednesday we keep planning. At the moment we decided to leave the marina tomorrow and go where the wind takes us, which is probably west. There are several nice anchorages not far from Noumea, where we can wait for the wind to abate and Ilot Uere is one of them at just 6.5 miles from Noumea.
The trip was short but quite uncomfortable, by the time we arrived we had head winds blowing over 20 kn. The lagoon is shallow and gets very choppy with winds over 15 kn. The anchorage is protected from the swell however the wind tends to get thru. Fortunately the holding seems excellent and we are expecting the wind to abate later tonight.
When we arrived we found Retour already at anchor here, later on we see little Emma arriving. This is a small sailboat with a solo sailor that somehow is travelling around the world. We were in Noumea when he arrived (alive) from New Zealand, not sure how. A brave man.
Next day we had a chat with Retour and then went to shore for a walk. Our first impresion of this place had not been too good but we slowly changed our minds, finding it quite nice. Ashore we did a long walk and found mangroves along the way, a beautiful and peaceful scenery, amazing considering this is very close to Noumea. Our friends in Retour tell us that they've been in this anchorage in several occasions in strong winds and they never had a problem, with the holding being excellent.
Quite a nice place to hide on windy days
The second night something happened. By sunset French Marines started arriving. Quite interesting, all of the sudden hundreds of marines had invaded this peaceful place. We had to assume it was for training purposes, no threats hiding in the mangroves it seems. As we left next day at sunrise, we didn't hang out to find out.
At a mooring in Bon Anse - 11 to 13 September 2013
It was rainy and miserable when we left Ilot Uere but with forecast of good weather to come we decided to keep going and get closer for the crossing to Ile de Pins. We tried to stay in Port Koube that looked good in the charts but found the anchorage complicated for the conditions and decided to go to Bonne Anse again, which we new good be a good place to wait for the rigth weather.
Rewarded with a fantastic sunset and a good night sleep, next morning the weather looked promising. A day later we left towards Ile des Pins.