Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pacific Cruise Sunset

In our last blog post, we claimed we'd be looking for some good sunsets.  Some time ago, Moo-Crew-Deb challenged the rest of the crew to never miss a sunset, and the crew has responded.  Unless it rains, we're all present and accounted for in the cockpit, cameras and cocktails within reach, looking for that perfect sunset.  

Is there such a thing?

Aren't they all perfect in their own way?

So, while exploring southern New Caledonia, we've been hunting sunsets. Here are a few we think are worth sharing:

But it wasn't all about sunsets.   We were out to discover Le Grand Lagoon, at the south end of New Caledonia's main island called Grand Terre. Surrounded by a barrier reef, the western lobe of the lagoon is a vast area of deep water protected by the surrounding reef, sprinkled with treacherous interior reefs and ilots (French for small island).  

We stopped at four ilots, looking for that ideal tropical spot to swim, snorkel and paddle-board.

But relentless trade winds followed us until we found Ilot Kouare, offering some protection from the wind and chop.  We went ashore for a picnic and had the island all to ourselves.

The local family of Osprey kept a watchful eye on us.

We walked all the way around the island, until we found Moonshadow again, right where we left her.

We couldn't wait for sunset, so made our own with a shell found on the beach.

Grand Lagoon's eastern lobe is more of the same but features a beautiful island Captain Cook named Isle of Pines.  The French, for some reason, now call it Isle Des Pins.  We never saw any pins but the pine trees Captain Cook saw are ginormous and extremely slender.  

Located 500 miles further from the equator than Fiji, this part of New Caledonia has a decidedly cooler and dryer climate. You find the occasional palms, but the rest of the vegetation is nothing like the tropical islands we've left behind.

The seawater is about five degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than Fiji, but when the wind is southerly, it brings a much cooler air mass from the Tasman Sea and the sweaters come out!  Also, it's the middle of winter here.

Weather systems regularly cross the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand and as each system passes, the wind makes its way all round the compass.  While in Ile Des Pins, fresh Westerlies sent us around from Kuto Bay to Kanumera Bay for protection.  Ashore we found evidence of New Caledonia's French Colonial past, like this massive stone wall that enclosed the fortress of the original administrative section.

We hitch-hiked to the nearby village of Vao where the modern day government office walls incorporated chunks of coral instead of stone.

Vao is where the Catholic church was built 1860.

The grounds and buildings have changed little in 150 years.

Our ride back to Moonshadow was in the back of a large Jeep with this family, whose beautiful girl never took her eyes off us.

So now we're back in Noumea, looking at a possible weather window for departure to Mackay, Australia, a voyage of just under 1000 miles - maybe five days and change.

Meanwhile we're still looking for that perfect sunset...

...and maybe some apres sunset scenes to ponder: 

What comes apres Pacific!?



Jeff said...

Will you ever top the sunsets in NC? Unique and just as beautiful. Have a good voyage to Aussieland.

Dewey said...

John and deb, fantastic photos! I read and look at every blog. The pine trees are a very interesting addition. Dewey

Aidan Barrett said...

Hi J & D
Greetings again from S D. Love your blogs and being able to keep up with you. Hope your trip to Aussie is uneventful and safe.
As mentioned to you Robin and I leave S D on Sep 12th and will be in Europe for a month.
All good in these precincts. Not so good in the Texas along the Gulf coast. Ferocious hurricane (Harvey) is going ashore as a category 4 and apparently will stall and be very bad for a lot of days. We wish everyone there safety and best wishes.
We hope your family are all doing well.
So in the meantime bon voyage and I look forward to catching up with you in mid Oct - ish.
Best greetings from us both to you both.

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