New Caledonia, starts in Vancouver.
My new position at work changed our schedule to a ‘6-weeks on – 6-weeks off’ routine. (How this is going to affect our cruising is anyone’s guess??). I had been travelling back-and-forth from Brunei to Auckland, for the last 6 months, though this time we decided to rendezvous in Vancouver.
Our last week in North Van was spent tearing around, tidying up our affairs with business, family & friends. We always look forward to going back to the boat, but this time we were even more excited because we were finally making the push out of NZ and into warmer climes of New Caledonia!
Julie scored some great Airline seats. We were flying from Vancouver to Auckland, –direct– for $700 USD, with Air New Zealand. 👍
Packing up all our bags, the taxi to YVR, checking-in, going through Customs & security, boarding the aircraft – it was all going so perfect. The seats turned out to be better than expected and the flight was like 3/5ths full. There was room to spare everywhere, for everyone! Julie and I had the 3 starboard seats to ourselves, and they’re the ones which fold down to form a bed, called a Sky-Couch. This ain’t our first Rodeo, so no sooner had the seatbelt sign gone off, we had those seats transformed into our palatial berth, shoes off, blankets pulled up, drinks in hand, movie on. 14 hours of this for $700 USD?, man-o-man I pinched myself.
“Ah, folks this is your Captain speaking,,, we’re encountering a problem up here on the flight deck. Absolutely nothing to worry about of course, just that I would rather not continue the Journey like this, so I’m making a landing to get things put right. Nearest landfall is Honolulu”
Damn! I knew I should have let things ride,,, should not have pinched myself back into reality. Julie’s headset is off now, asking what’s going on.
“They’re landing the plane” I said.
“What? When now? Why? Where?” I have to admit I was quite impressed, she only missed out the “who” and she’d have nailed every question possible in one sentence.
“Apparently the Captain is not happy to continue the flight because his Radar is goosed and he knows there’s weather up ahead”
And so our plane banks to port with one of those big sweeping, pinned-to-your-seat, turns. In 30 minutes we were on the Tarmac of Honolulu Airport. An hour after that we are back in the air.
We go through the whole transformer thing again with our bed. Roll of eyes at each other, but we’re on our way…again. We were perhaps 45 minutes into our movie when ‘DING DING DING’ announces the beginning of another message over the intercom system.
“this is the Flight Deck speaking,,,ah,, we’re still having issues up here, and with that weather ahead of us, I sure would like to see it.” –long pause– “I’m turning around, we’re heading back to Honolulu. Fasten your seat-belts, ETA 53 mins.”
Even INFINITY has two radars for God’s sake!! I’m not sure whether I should be angry or mildly amused. I looked at Jay for clues. She had the corners of her her mouth raised, we’re all good! As we descend towards Honolulu, we get more information, and the Captains’ calling it quits. We’ll all try again tomorrow.
So it looks like an impromptu ‘mini-break’ in Hawaii will be forced upon us! Not to worry, we’ll survive. 😜
Despite humping around 4 hockey-bag sized hold-alls, full of boat spares, plus all our personal gear, we decided to treat this as a Holiday and go with the flow. It was almost one year ago that we were last on Hawaiian soil, and I realized I missed it. Felt like my soul was home.
We have this wall area on INFINITY in our Salon which has been bare since we moved aboard. We have been on the look out for something to adorn the space, and we found it. 3 Honu’s (Hawaiian symbol for good luck) made out of Hawaiian Koa. Julie has had this special association with the Honu since our time spent in Hawaii in 2014/2015. It was a great opportunity to take advantage of the unique set of circumstances which brought us here again. Purchase made.
It did not take us long to get settled back onboard INFINITY, since it feels more like Home than any place else. We like to leave the boat super clean, so our time coming back can be as enjoyable as possible. We were immediately rewarded with the new carpets we had installed last trip; I had actually forgotten. Jay had the Honu’s up in no time, and they looked great!
Operation “New Caledonia” was in motion. It took us a week to pull it all together. (To do all our last minute shopping, say our final ‘good-byes’ to all our NZ friends, refuel INFINITY, return our rented car, and receive our travel-pack of Nespresso pods). Finally, we were good-to-go!
I wrote a few notes during the transit, and copied them here below; as follows:
June 09, 2018
1600: Got away from the dock, no issues. Commenced Journey at 1600.
1900: Weather turned very cold, have to wear sailing jacket, with a sweatshirt underneath. Feels great to be underway again, like a huge achievement has been accomplished.
Status: 61.5 miles / 57.9 gals. @ 0001. June 10th.
Position: 35 41.9 S / 174 42.7 E
June 10, 2018
1000: Adjusted (tightened) stuffing box gland. Emptied Head-tank
1400: Tx fuel from mid tank – 145 gals
1500: First 24 hours completed. Status below. Daytank now reading 260.
Status: 178.2 miles / 160 gals. @ 1600
Position: 34 11.89 S / 173 15.68 E
June 11, 2018
0300: ER Check. All ok. Daytank 190 gals
0330: wx still up. Uncomfortable, short seas, jerky movements onboard.
0400: moon very bright this morning. luminous
1400: turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.
1645: Seas still up, but smoother.
2200: TX 140 gals from MID tank. WX indications on radar
Status: 350.2 miles / 320.7 gals. @ 1645
Position: 31 38.08 S / 171 50.27 E
June 12, 2018
0245: ER checks OK.
0300: passing squall, winds 27kts, very loud, lot’s of rain.
0500: wx actually pleasant now, smooth, calm seas, light winds.
1100: tx fuel, 140 gals. Daytank was 110
1140: wx gone to shit, as forecasted. With us for 24 hours.
1800: noticed fwd bilge pump running constantly, motor warm 🤔
1815: decided to isolate the fwd thru-hulls, in case of siphoning effect
June 13, 2018
0145: Tx140 gals fuel from MID. ER checks ok
0200: checked fwd space for water. Seemed same.
0205: opened up bilge bulkhead manifold in ER. Flow activated pump, then stopped.
0300: aft bilge now cycling frequently
0530: wx still rough, 28kts heavy seas.
1300: woke up to calmer seas. Thank God.
1345: aft bilge seems ok, no real gain in level. Aft bilge pump still runs continuous on auto
tx 120 gals fuel from Port tank.
2000: wx moderated as forecasted. Using the ECMWF forecast, bang on for this transit.
2300: ER checks ok. First signs of Stab belt deteriorating. Threads found on floor. 260 Nmtg.
2305: tx fuel – 70 gals from Port Tank.
Status: 666.6 miles / 632.9 gals. @ 1620
Position: 26 57.5 S 169 00.5 E
June 14, 2018
0035: tx filter getting clogged, currently tx’ing 70 gals per fill.
0217: beautiful clear star filled night, spiritual.
1015: Stab belt failed. Changed out for new one. ME hours: 9626
1045: tx fuel from Port tank,
1100: during belt change, noticed the hyd oil cooler pump coupling is loose! Will adjust.
1105: during belt change, noticed the wing engine raw water pump is leaking. Will change out.
2115: tx fuel from Port tank.
June 15, 2018
0255: running water maker, and emptied heads.
0830: passing through Dumbea Passe – Hello New Caledonia!
FWD 450: full
MID 580: tx 145, 140, 140, 140
PORT 680: tx 120, 70, 70, 70
STBD 580: tx fuel 70 gals from Port tank
Once we arrived, I made a phone call to our Agent, that I had prearranged from New Zealand. Chloë Morin is a special young lady, and we were fortunate to work with her. We first heard of Chloë when we were in Tahiti, and the seed was planted that using an Agent may be the best way to enter certain countries. The first (and only other time) we used an Agent, was in Fiji. Both times, expensive but worth it, especially when there is a language barrier.
So, established in our new spot, we hit the Market. Fresh fish is always good. Jay grills our white fish with fresh ground sea-salt, black pepper and lime. Simple, succulent, and superb. Tonight, it’s fresh Dorado!
Wanting to explore a bit further, we took the scooter off the boat, and headed out to see what we cold see. Some of you long-time readers may notice that one of our scooters is now red. Well, there’s a story to that – one which I’ll cover later in the INFINITY maintenance page. The Ocean finally had it’s way with one of them, so we replaced it with this newer one in New Zealand. It’s pretty zippy, and gets the job done. 👍
The Groupama Yacht Race was in full swing while we were in Noumea. The race takes place every two years, and Noumea comes alive with sailboats and yachts of all shapes & sizes. It’s absolutely fantastic. I personally love seeing the Trimarans fly!
The Pastries in New Caledonia are world famous, and I can attest that the reputation is not unwarranted. 😜 To counter the calories, we’d often go for walks along the shoreline. This particular day, Jay and I walked for 8 1/2 enjoyable miles.
After a few weeks of getting to know Noumea, we decided to slip the lines and head to the south of the Island, to Ile des Pins. We overnighted in a secluded cove (Anse Majic) mid transit, and rendezvoused with a couple of cruisers who we had met at Port du Sud, Noumea.
And onwards we press on, finally dropping anchor in Ile des pins.
You have a moment. when you jump off the dinghy and your bare feet land on soft, pure white, powdery sand. In the exact same instance, you become aware of the afternoon sun warming your shoulders, and your body gliding through the crystal-clear water – and you realize that everything is perfect with the world at this moment in time – as God intended.
The Perfect time to get out the MINICAT!
We actually bought the Minicat in New Zealand but didn’t really have the weather for it. Cue in some sunshine at Isle de Pins et Voila! Julie and I had some great fun together, and I got my sailing fix! It has turned out to be a great activity for the both of us. No doubt the Minicat coverage will increase as we move on. You can read more about the model we bought here.
Back in Noumea – Who mentioned Pastries??
We were told by the local boaters that there was this one place you gotta try in town. Would have been rude not to investigate.
Our last night out, we enjoyed another pleasant evening with Greg & Jane from the 30m M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO
Time & Tide wait for no man. Lines cast off, we are on our way to Vanuatu!