Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Noumea - New Caledonia - Vive la France!
Port Moselle - It's a marina life - 6 to 15 May 2013
This is a modern marina located in the centre of town, the ideal spot to rest, get the boat back in shape and enjoy the cosmopolitan town full of shops and good restaurants, all within easy walking distance. Prices for a week at the marina are very reasonable, compared to Australian prices, and the rate includes energy, water and internet.
Port Mossele Marina with hundreds of sailboats
A little while later we welcomed Mustang Sally that arrived just behind us. We met them in Lord Howe and we travelled together. They invited us over for drinks to celebrate our easy passage. On a route where the usual wind would be on the nose, we got blessed with downwind sailing for the duration of the trip. Amazing.
We cleared customs at the marina and agriculture came to the boat and took away whatever we had left in fruits, vegies and eggs, they asked to wait for 2 hours before leaving the boat (apparently somebody may show up for an inspection) and then we were free to remove the yellow quarantine flag and move around.
Immigration had to be left for next day as they only work in the mornings till 11.30AM.
Next morning we would have happily slept in but we had to make it to Immigration before 11.00AM. It took us a while to find the building, about 6 blocks from the marina. Luckily we run into Dianne, Mark and Graheme who told us how to get there. Eventually we found the building and completed formalities. We are now legally in New Caledonia and can stay here for a total of 6 months. So far, it looks like a good place to be.
On the way back we stopped at the Super Marche, run again into Mark and Dianne, I guess we all had the same things in mind: cheese, pate, jambon, baguettes and wine.
Oscar found ‘bavete’, which is a cut of meat we have in Argentina (entranha) that is great for the grill and soon a BBQ at Zenitude was organized for the following day with our friends from Mustang Sally.
We’ve had rainy weather since we are here and it seems this pattern will continue into early next week.
With half the week already gone we’ve now been able to do the cleaning, the laundry, some shopping and some of the little fixes we’d like to get done here.
First trip to the supermarket
Nouvelle Pleasance, just 10 minutes away by dinghy, is the place to get all kind of boating services. I was surprised to see the number of boats here, even now that is the low season. Boats arriving from the Pacific crossing will not arrive until later in the year, during what is considered the high season.
There is also a well re-known sail maker here, Helene Corr. She is a representative from Incidences, which is the maker of our sails in France. We will leave the main sail with her for repairs and for an evaluation of how much life our sail has, it is already 10 years old and seems to be showing sun damage plus a lot of wear in several places.
We spent most of our Saturday removing the sail and early Sunday morning Oscar notices a nasty insect bite in his lower leg. It pretty much looks like a white tail spider bite, similar to one he had when we were in Bundaberg. There are no spiders in New Caledonia so we are thinking it came traveling with us from Australia. It must have taking up residence in Zenitude when we left her on the dry in Oyster Cove yard. When Zenitude went back to the water we thought we got rid of all spiders and ants which were really annoying. But there is no way to get rid of spiders unless you find them and this one must have been hiding in the sailbag.
Trying to find a doctor on a Sunday was difficult but we discovered that pharmacies here have the address and contact number of the doctor practice on duty on Sundays. It must be said that in Noumea the medical attention seems to be quite good and Oscar started to treat the bite that can be quite dangerous if left unattended.
Moving around - A little sample of the large lagoon - 15 to 22 of May 2013
We left Port Moselle on Wednesday to visit some of the little islands nearby Noumea. We couldn't go far as we left our mainsail in Noumea for repairs and have also ordered a cover for our dinghy. Our plan is to come back to the marina next week.
The lagoon is huge and from the many places that can be visited we choose to go first to Ilot Te Ndu, known also as Ilot Signal, well recommended by Mark and Dianne. A beautiful little inhabited island surrounded by coral reefs. It is part of the natural reserve and hence, all the fish in the coral is protected for desperation of Oscar that couldn't go spear fishing while the big groupers indolently looked at him.
Snorkelling in several places we saw lots of turtles, sea snakes, a couple of white tip small sharks, unicorns, groupers, trouts and lots of colorful fish. The highlight in this area being the turtles. Remoras underneath Zenitude, waiting for breakfast.
It was a weekday and at sunset the place was just ours. We spent 2 beautiful days and then left towards Ilot Laregnere. At mid way we stopped in Recif Senef for a snorkel. It is a very pretty reef with many colors and lots of fish. Oscar was very keen to find the groupers but I guess they know they are not protected here so they were nowhere to be seen. Again the white tip sharks always patrolling the reef.
Ilot Laregnere is another natural reserve with a nice beach, picnic area, camping and BBQ facilities. It is very popular with the locals. This Friday was the start of a long weekend here in NC and soon weekenders started arriving in their boats. Many of them camping in the beach. Even in the rainy weather people was enjoying themselves and at night we could see several bom fires in the beach.
Next stop was Ilot Maitre, the island with the famous Escapade resort. A beautiful hotel where apparently the majority of the tourism comes from Japan. We went to visit and had a drink at the bar. The place is fantastic though quite expensive and there is no where else to go in the island, so no alternative for restaurants around.
This is our last stop and soon we'll be back at the marina. In all the places we've stopped we had our remora pets underneath Zenitude, everyday waiting for breakfast time, maybe because they are french, they love the scraps of our baguetes.
Back in Noumea - Healing the Aussie Spider Bite - 23 May to 28 June
A skin specialist is now treating Oscar's leg lession, it doesn't look good and we decided to stay in Noumea until it heals since one of the restrictions is keeping the lesion dry from salt water. The only way to do that is staying at the marina.
To confirm our suspicions, two nasty looking spiders appeared on deck. One of them came out of the gennaker sheets, which we were putting away after having been out of use for a while, and the other one jumped in front of me when I moved a piece of fabric that was on deck. Not nice but we managed to kill them both. Now, I can't help looking in every possible hiding places on deck, a bit hopeless task I must admit. So many lovely hiding places for little white tail spiders.
Since we can't go anywhere for a while and being in a French island we can get several of Zenitude's maintenance jobs done here, we have to recognize, cheaper and better than in Australia. Because Zenitude is a catamaran and she is French, it is easy to find parts and expertise in French territory.
First was the main sail that now is back and repaired, the bad news is that the sail maker veredict is the material is too worn and it may not survive another year. We are now waiting for a quote on a new sail. Helene Corr, the representative of Incidences here in Noumea, is very professional, reliable and her services reasonable priced.
When we removed the main sail it became obvious a little rigging issue, so next thing was to get advice from a rigger.
We contacted Georges Auteret. He is pretty famous around here. Everybody knows him and everybody says he is the best.
We've been dealing with riggers before in the US and in Australia and this is the first time we find somebody that really understands the particulars of catamaran's rigging.
Georges did a full inspection and found our rigging still in good condition, however being 10 years old, needs to be changed sometime in the next couple of years.
We asked for a quote thinking that this may be a good opportunity to do it. Georges comes with lots of recommendations and the quote was very reasonable, so we decided to do it here and now.
Georges did great work, on budget and on time as promised and Zenitude has new rigging.
Meanwhile, Zeni the dinghy, is also getting a face lift. We ordered a custom cover from another excellent guy that does canvas work and quoted almost half the price asked in Australia.
He found that poor Zeni had the bottom quite damaged and started to get osmosis, meaning water is getting inside the fiber.
The damage comes from our many landings on beautiful white sanded beaches plus the dreadful boat rump in Lord Howe, dragging poor dinghy that has no wheels. Problem fixed by friend of the canvas guy that did a very good job, again, at a very good price.
When it seemed that Oscar's lesion (from the spider bite) was never going to heal, even with the weekly visit to the doctor, who was insisting on the importance of good care as it had turned into a deep ulcer, we had the fortune to have a wonderful retired nurse as our neighbor at the marina.
She is a specialist in treating wounds and gave Oscar all the perfect advice that made a difference, we are sure of that.
Now that is almost healed we decided to start moving again, even though it might be another week before he can go diving.
Managing stocks before leaving Noumea
Zenitude gets new rigging
Our plan is to go around the south tip of New Caledonia, visit the Loyalty Islands and from there to Vanuatu, coming back to Noumea sometime in August to spend more time on the south lagoon. Last weekend at the marina we are busy with last minute shopping but there is still time to join in the fun of the fanfare, a group of French locals going around the streets entertaining themselves and everybody else around with their music.
It's not only work, renting a small car in Noumea is very reasonable and we rented one in several occasions to go around the beautiful town.
Sunday Market at Port Moselle
Zenitude at Port Moselle Marina
Fanfare visits the Market