Thu Dec 5 21:07 2013 NZDT
GPS: 35 11.739s 174 01.653e
Run: 25.2nm (45.6km)

back at home no= w. the plan to stay in opua and socialise whilst we waited for the rigging = and stanchion repairs was thwarted by the weather - the worst part of our t= rip was the 35kn beat to windward to get from russell - where we'd stopped = to share coffee and cake with two other boats who'd left noumea just a day = before us - back to our mooring. the timing of our arrival to the bay at th= e bottom of the garden was perfect=2c the weather lightened up for about 30= mins=2c we packed the basics - laptops=2c duvet=2c tea-bags and toothbrush= es - got into the dinghy and made it into the house just as the next squall= arrived. =

Sun Dec 1 10:09 2013 NZDT
GPS: 34 50s 173 58.5e
Run: 94nm (170.1km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 153.5nm
Weather: 6knts se .

30nm to go - all slow and dull now as we motor into 6kn of headwind. had a lovely time yesterday eve when a pod of (probably common) dolphins came to play on the bow, loving the speedy surfs we were doing and racing in front of us, then tail walking and throwing themselves sideways with a big splash before scooting round to race us again - was great fun, and astonishing none of them were run over as they were daringly close to the bow this morning we were startled by a big thud and roxi shook with the impact, we looked behind and saw we'd hit a large sunfish - that is sad.

hopefully we'll arrive before the officials go home this afternoon so we can go to the club house and catch up with our friends - they arrived last night.

Sat Nov 30 19:27 2013 NZDT
GPS: 33 38s 173 12e
Run: 99.6nm (180.3km)
Avg: 8.7knts
24hr: 208.5nm
Weather: 18knts nw 2-3 m swell .

brilliant day of fast sailing with winds from aft, genoa poled out and did 89nm in last 12 hrs. forecast is for the fun to stop, but meanwhile we're making the best of it - just 110nm to go, but will we arrive in time to check in before the officials go home tomorrow??

Sat Nov 30 7:59 2013 NZDT
GPS: 32 24.460s 172 17.777e
Run: 80.9nm (146.4km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 153.7nm
Weather: 15knts nw

seas calmer and wind from behind as predicted. less than 200nm to go. think we're almost out of the adverse current and we've speeded up at last, but probably unlikely we'll get into opua in time to check in tomorrow - unless the winds get up to 25kn and si hand steers, currently it's not exciting enough and he's sleeping. looked at why our spinnaker pole drain was blocked, and saw a baby squid had been pulled down it by the force of the water and was stuck head first in the drain hole. a decapitation before breakfast is not the best way to start the day, then the challenge of somehow removing the head before it starts to decompose -anyway it's good to have something to do on watch.

Fri Nov 29 19:21 2013 NZDT
GPS: 31 25s 171 33.8e
Run: 72.5nm (131.2km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 155.6nm
Weather: w 16 kts clear skies & lumpy seas 1013 hpa

the wind dropped off this afternoon, so we've been motor-sailing as the seas were too lumpy and the wind too light for our kite.

had to re-fuel during a calm patch, wind coming back now and due to be 20kn+ from the nw.

this will be the slowest day so far.

saw a pretty big shark fin slicing through the waves off our cockpit, then circle before heading off again.

Fri Nov 29 8:10 2013 NZDT
GPS: 30 30.2s 170 57.8e
Run: 169.9nm (307.5km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.8nm
Weather: wsw 16 kts clear skies & lumpy seas 1012 hpa

good sailing has continued, but we have the current that we enjoyed whilst going up to new cal against us now, so that is a trifle irritating - although obvious i know.

the nights are quite cold now, but lovely and starry with few clouds and a pretty moonrise.

need to grate and bake our carrots and transform into a cake, so that should be a workout this morning - also a serious cheese eating session is required - it's a hard life out here! hope to get in on sunday before the weather changes to se.

Thu Nov 28 8:58 2013 NZDT
GPS: 28 22s 169 34e
Run: 153.1nm (277.1km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 174.8nm
Weather: 13 knts w beautiful & blue above & below 1008 hpa

winds have stayed since yesterday morning, the waves are 1 metre or so on the beam, so it's bouncy but we're having a good sail.

so hot yesterday we showered outside to cool off in the afternoon, now the nights are getting chilly though.

not quite halfway just yet.

Wed Nov 27 19:30 2013 NZDT
GPS: 27 07s 168 51 e
Weather: 13 knts ssw hot & sunny. 1006 hpa

good sailing all day. blue everywhere now, lovely

Wed Nov 27 11:57 2013 NZDT
GPS: 26 26.366s 168 20.14e
Run: 103.3nm (187km)
Avg: 6.3knts
24hr: 150.6nm
Weather: 13 knts sw/ ssw bright & sunny. 1007 hpa

sailing again after a night of motoring against 1.2kn current so added frustration there.

decided to bake some rolls stuffed with sausage, cheese & onion as we're down to the dregs of the noumea bread, plus we need to eat those things before arriving in opua - it was more like a work out than a baking session - but the aroma emanating from the oven is worth it.

Tue Nov 26 19:29 2013 NZDT
GPS: 25 11.26s 167 25.67e
Run: 47.2nm (85.4km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 146.2nm
Weather: 8 knts n/ nnw 100% cloud cover. 1006 hpa

drizzle stopped mid afternoon - along with the wind, so back to motoring in variable winds.

waves lumpy now, so not such good speed.

hard for the seabirds to fly in these conditions, we've come across a couple of quite large flocks sitting on the water, stretching in a line far to either side of us across our path, rapidly taking to the air as we approach - settling back behind us moments later.

Tue Nov 26 11:44 2013 NZDT
GPS: 24 36.665s 167 01.38e
Run: 140.7nm (254.7km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.5nm
Weather: 13 knts nw 100% cloud cover.

grey and drizzly, but seas calm and wind filled in around 0300, enough to sail, so that's good.

saw small pod pilot whales yesterday - big black dorsal fins added some colour to the greyness.

154 nm in the 24hrs since we left.

Mon Nov 25 15:20 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 38.802s 166 26.505e
Run: 25.8nm (46.7km)
Weather: 4knts sw .5m swell from the s 100% cloud cover. 1008 hpa

after much indecision we left today. not a great weather forecast, light winds & fronts, but things not likely to improve for a while so, feeling like a rabbit crossing a motorway, we're underway with our fingers crossed.

Fri Nov 22 18:10 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 16.372s 166 25.98760e
Run: 0.7nm (1.3km)

checked out today for dept very early on monday.

no more fun=2c just checking the weather.

need to bake more biscuits and cake=2c the last lot have gone and we're sti= ll in here.

think there's a mass departure=2c so the rhumb line may be busy.


Mon Nov 11 14:45 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 16.671s 166 25.378e
Run: 4nm (7.2km)

si just cleaning the hull and prop in preparation for the passage = south.=20 several meals made up already=2c a couple more to go -just in case it's a b= it rough for enjoyable cooking=2c then heating is the easy answer. not yet = sure when we'll depart.=20 meanwhile we've been lucky to spend time seeing some of the interior with f= riends and have had a wonderful 6 hour hike yesterday through native forest= to a peak above noumea.=20 bizarrely both ways seemed to have a predominance of uphill - but there wer= e brilliant views of the lagoon and it was our first up close experience of= the damp green interior.


Mon Nov 4 19:48 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 20.04s 166 24.30e
Run: 21.7nm (39.3km)

back at ilot maitre after a brilliant sail this morning, loads of fish action and feeding birds for entertainment.

great windsurfing afternoon for si, and lovely snorkel for me.

of course this was the occasion i didn't take the camera and did see a very laid back loggerhead turtle, who just stayed there on the bottom watching me as i watched him, we just hung out for 3-4 minutes. could have taken wonderful photos . .

Sat Nov 2 16:17 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 07.016s 166 09.586e
Run: 14.4nm (26.1km)
Weather: 24knts sse . sunny.

anchored off ile moro. yesterday had amazing paddleboard for 2.5hrs, we circumnavigated 'our' island and ile abu adjacent.

they are mushroom shaped with rough jagged rocks around the edges, crowned with an assortment of foliage.

crystal clear water, assorted fishes in assorted sizes, dozens of turtles and numerous kraits (sea snakes).

so quiet on the leeward sides you could hear the summery sound of bees and crickets and the percussion as shoals of silvery fry disappear again after their brief foray to sparkle in the sunlight.

at one headland we were a little too close to a nest of ospreys, they hovered and shrilled above our heads telling us of our transgression - one with an unfortunate fish firmly clutched.

today it's too windy for si's smallest windsurf sail - but he gave it a go just to make sure.

Thu Oct 31 16:48 2013 NZDT
GPS: 22 00.559s 165 58.028e
Run: 20.9nm (37.8km)
Weather: 12knts ssw. flat seas. fluffy clouds. bright sky and great vis for reef spotting whilst sailing managing to head to where we want to go for first time since we left poum at the nw tip - feels great. next to tenia (marine reserve) had a close look at a large dugong surfacing to breathe, then he dived down to feed again, mermaid tail going high above the water.

making way back to noumea for dept to nz in the next week or so

Tue Oct 29 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 21 46.67s 165 45.50e
Run: 21nm (38km)
Avg: 3.6knts
24hr: 86.4nm

we are now back to lagoon sailing - just as well as the impact of the waves on friday caused a swage (rigging fitting) to fail.

we are just replacing it with a spliced length of spectra rope - lets hope we followed the instructions properly.

we're far into the bay here and were heading to the anchor spot when i spotted a dark body just under the surface - another dugong? i turned roxi for a better look - no, nor a dolphin it didn't come up to breathe, then i saw a vertical tail with dark tip.

by this point the shark was heading at our beam, we were very close, it stayed at the surface head weaving slightly - it looked big.

we continued turning and got closer, it was right by the cockpit, unperturbed by us and the flattened head clearly visible.

it was a hammerhead shark between 2.5 - 3m! exciting to see it - but i'm not going swimming now.

Mon Oct 28 18:09 2013 NZDT
GPS: 21 38.625s 165 27.940e
Run: 36.8nm (66.6km)

much calmer seas and a great 50nm sail today.

lovely to watch the seabirds as they ride the wind and skim the waves anchored behind the reef at bourail, watching the surf roll through the pass not far away, luckily just enough protection in this spot - but surfing from roxi has never been an option previously.

Sun Oct 27 15:19 2013 NZDT
GPS: 21 21.21s 164 59.2e

still anchored at in grimault, lovely warm water for swimming, no vis for snorkeling.

managed to create a repair to the snapped stanchion using our cockpit table leg.

hope wind and waves lessen for monday so we should leave for our next stop tomorrow.

towards the top of new caledonia the scenery was reminiscent of desert mountains in morocco, or somewhere equally arid, the colours of the mountain range hues of ochre, rust and brown - when set against the brilliant turquoise of the lagoon it was stunning.

it seems all the mining of the mineral rich soil has effectively flensed the island of its lush greenness, this reveals the true shape of the mountains, the valleys and contours in light and shadow, the stark reality of what lies beneath the usual tropical growth exposed.

Fri Oct 25 22:27 2013 NZDT
GPS: 21 21.21s 164 59.2e
Run: 34.2nm (61.9km)

anchored at ile grimault after a 50nm beat outside the reef in 25kn and short lumpy seas.

hard going, but all ok - until one of our stanchions snapped in half.

will use the table leg to fix it tomorrow - we hope.

Thu Oct 24 16:14 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 57.923s 164 39.472e
Run: 7.2nm (13km)

voh been trying to get united with a package of spares to make a few repairs - yesterday we had confirmation that it had been delivered to a coffee museum in voh.

leaving koumac we beat in 25kn se to the nearest bay - this is the place where an aerial view of the mangroves at low tide reveal the perfect heart that yann arthus-betrand took such a beautiful photo of for his 'earth from the air' book. hitched out to the town this morning and opened our 'care package'.

Wed Oct 23 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 56.467s 164 33.009e
Run: 30.7nm (55.6km)

dugong to starboard whilst navigating the tight channel to baie de chasseloup in 30kn wind we were distracted by a brown shape - huge turtle was the first thought - but not oval - shark is my next thought - but no fin, then the shape surfaces about 4m from the cockpit and it's a dugong! we saw it's whiskery mouth and small eye, the brown dumpy body clearly visible through the surface, it was lovely and soft looking. the it disappeared and we refocused on the whereabouts of buoys and reefs as we sped through the channel at 7kn .

Mon Oct 21 17:48 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 34.80s 164 16.44e
Run: 43.8nm (79.3km)

in koumac marina - cave trip we're in the marina at at koumac=2c and had been told that a network of cav= es nearby are a 'must see'.

we put new batteries in our torches and were given a lift out to them.

we arrived at the entrance to the 'small caves'=2c wandered in=2c looked ar= ound for 10 mins or so and came out=2c it was interesting=2c but not impres= sive.=20 we walked further to the 'big caves' and saw a laminated paper sign=2c 'gro= tte' by a huge tower of rocks interspersed with the aerial roots of banyan= trees=2c this looked more challenging. we set off upwards following the di= rt path caused by multiple footprints=2c arriving near the top of the trees= we saw a low arch=2c the dust trail led down=2c so we ducked inside.

we were in a cavern=2c looking around we could see the main structure was s= mooth light grey rock.

stones crunching underfoot=2c we started the adventure=2c after a few twist= s and turns daylight no longer penetrated=2c without a torch it was too dar= k to tell if you had your eyes open or not.=20 we seemed to be following a dry river bed=2c walking on the bigger stones= =2c higher up the walls the tunnel was lined with what looked like pebbleda= sh in certain places=2c the small stones and a rough sand-like material for= ming a cement hard coating. the force of the water rushing through these tu= nnels over the years=2c carrying the small stones and sand particles=2c lea= ching out the lime and somehow covering large areas of the limestone cave w= alls. in other places the water had worn the pebbledash away revealing the = smooth grey walls again=2c thinking of how much water must gush along the t= unnels we were glad it was the dry season.=20 the underground river bed led us easily onwards=2c there were wonderfully s= haped stalactites and stalacmites=2c places where the roof was so high we c= ouldn't see it even with our brightest torch=2c hollowed out areas where th= e water must eddy and swirl=2c and some huge precariously positioned boulde= rs=2c looking as though they held up the roof=2c wondering about the possib= ility of an earthquake was nerve-wracking. with pounding heart=2c churning = stomach and adrenaline dry mouth i followed si as we headed in=2c then cont= inued to walk. further in we had to scramble up tumbled rocks=2c heading to= wards the top of the cavern=2c a waterfall without the water.=20 there were aerosol arrows pointing backwards to guide you out=2c but you co= uld also tell the direction by which of the protruding rocky bulges had dar= kened and worn ultra smooth with endless hands steadying themselves.=20 you can walk in for 3 hours before having to re-trace your steps=2c i was n= ot that brave but we did manage to walk for over 35 minutes into what felt = like something from lord of the rings=2c at every dark pool i looked for go= llum.

turning round i felt like running crazily towards daylight=2c away from the= mega tons of precariously perched rocks above my head - and the terror wit= hin my head. i clutched at the shiny handholds and scurried off. distracti= on was provided when si spotted a snoozing bat at eye level=2c a furry drop= let tucked into a nook of a stalactite.

the air was cool=2c standing still you could feel a faint breeze on your sk= in=2c it was odourless=2c no earthy smell or mustiness=2c unless you were b= y the bat colony=2c then your nostrils knew about it.=20 wonderfully there was no rubbish=2c the water that hollowed out these caves= must drip through the rocks=2c a river would bring flotsam & jetsam - then= leave it behind.

whilst standing still we noticed cave wetas at our feet=2c their delicate a= ntenna waving endlessly=2c then we heard high pitched squeaks=2c we thought= bat sonar was inaudible to humans=2c shining the torch we saw it was a bir= d - a cave swiftlet that also navigates in the dark using echo location. ca= lming slightly as we watched cave life around us=2c i moved more slowly tow= ards the exit=2c but was most thankful to head out and absorb the intense = blues and greens of the outside world.

now a couple of days have passed i'd like to do it again - but would take s= pare batteries as well as the three torches we had.=20 there are no restrictions to access=2c your safety is your own responsibili= ty=2c when we re-traced our steps we didn't feel unsure of the way=2c but w= e'd only gone 17% of the way along the possible 2 mile route to the interio= r.


Caves 2
Caves 3
Fri Oct 18 20:42 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 42.192s 164 56.344e
Run: 43.8nm (79.3km)

hienghene river =0a= =0a= =0a= firstly when i found pc=2c prior to running him over - can you believe i we= nt right over the top of it - i don't look that mean in this photo - just g= oes to show that looks can be deceiving! =20 then when si had to carry it=2c not sure the kitty felt it to be much of an= improvement to it's situation if you zoom into it's face: =20 and then aboard roxi after the 2nd of it's several brekkies: =20 of course it wanted more - now why didn't i call it oliver?? =

Paddle cat!
small scrawny kitty
Ali with Paddle Cat
Fri Oct 18 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 34.811s 164 16.446e
Run: 0.3nm (0.5km)

koumac marina - time to hit the laundry - load after load - feels pretty good, but slightly novel!

Thu Oct 17 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 34.554s 164 16.466e
Run: 22.7nm (41.1km)

left ile tanle in a light breeze for a 17nm sail, turned into a 27nm beat in 25-30kn as we struggled to avoid the reefs and make the next anchorage in the rising wind and short choppy seas. a little later than we hoped we were tucked in close to shore getting maximum protection from the small headland and feeling very appreciative of the holding power of the rocna and the generating power of the air marine - movie afternoon we think.

Wed Oct 16 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 18.051s 164 05.047e
Run: 6.9nm (12.5km)

too gusty to stay in baie de croissant for more than a coffee, was a very pretty view for the short time we spent there. then onto tuck behind pointe de bouerabate, very well sheltered in the mangroves so a swim was needed as we'd lost the breeze.

Sun Oct 13 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 12.88s 164 01.90e
Run: 3.3nm (6km)

the festival at poum was fairly small, we searched for a stall selling carvings whilst listening to the live music - although we could have done that on roxi from a distant anchorage as volume seems to be an indicator of popularity, or perhaps it's so those people who can't get their outboard started don't miss out? we left after a while and headed to an island out in the bay, as we neared we could see a large jetty and thought there may be a resort, getting closer it all looked a bit shabby, but the jetty was impressively solid. going ashore we found a selection of picnic tables and benches, huge shade 'umbrellas' on the beach and a swim platform dragged up above the tide line. everything was a bit crooked and gradually getting blown apart, but as it was made from small tree trunks and woven palm fronds the disintegration would just be absorbed into the island again as it rotted. behind the trees lining the beach was a massive bar area complete with glass fronted fridges, loos and showers, these were more properly built and the place was abandoned. the environment had been built for the p&o cruise line as a place for their passengers to spend the day. three years ago the cruise ships deleted this destination from their itinerary, now nature is venturing into the bar and it's slowly falling down. probably a big loss of income for the small town we'd just left, people must have had been employed to supply local food and perform traditional ceremonies and dances.

the following morning we got up and were ready to leave by 0800, during the night the wind had turned and the beach was now behind us, si started the engine and went forward to do the anchor, by that time i was by the wheel and he came back saying the boat was in forward not neutral. after a minute or two of trying we realised that the throttle would not disengage the gear and go into neutral - it's more usual problem when it needs attention is not going into gear.

we checked the problem was not at the engine end, then emptied the back locker so si could squeeze in and lie down to look behind the morse lever. whilst we worked out what was happening the wind rose from 12 to over 20 kn the waves coming across the bay were getting lumpier and the beach looked close behind us. it seemed that the fix would be a bit of a mission and shouldn't be attempted here. we planned our getaway within the limitations of our sick throttle and headed upwind to the sheltered side of the harbour to dismantle the throttle and find out if we could fix it.

it took us all day to repair it, to persuade whatever was corroded inside the potted mechanism to release. it is a teleflex and is a shoddy design, not watertight and no way of taking it apart to sort out the inevitable problems when water gets in. eventually our efforts with turps, paraffin, patience and oil succeeded and the lever moved in neutral without taking the gear mechanism too. now the challenge of re-assembling the morse cables in the almost invisible area behind the throttle lever with all those small bits and access being so tight and awkward - does boat stand for 'bring out another tool'? at least it hadn't happened when trying to leave boat pass, that would have been almost dangerous in the wind we had; neither leaving nor staying to fix it were a good choice. anyway that didn't happen and it's all working now, but we're getting a new one in nz, they make a robust easily serviced model, and we'll be glad to replace this inferior italian brand.

Fri Oct 11 20:12 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 11.728s 163 59.10e
Run: 8.5nm (15.4km)

now anchored in poum, a tiny town that has a festival this weekend - perfect timing.

today we went as far north as we will on this trip to the tropics, it's south down the west coast now to noumea, then nz next month.

had an exciting exit from last nights anchorage in 20+kn on the nose, bouncy swell, reefs and shallow water - under 4m.

once out in the bay we got the sails up and headed downwind at over 7kn to round the northern most tip of the islands and reefs at the top of new cal.

we were very lucky; as we hugged the coast and turned west before heading south to pass the far side of the narrow islands, we watched the wind go round more to the north - yippee, a beam reach down this side now - not what we were expecting.

we had the best sail in ages, over 7kn, blue sky above, turquoise seas below, wonderful scenery and flat seas, we did the 30nm in 4 hours and were sad it was over so quickly. saw lots of very large turtles close up, think that with the noise of the wind and seas they didn't hear us coming - it was great.

Wed Oct 9 20:53 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 04.45s 164 00.09e
Run: 43.4nm (78.6km)

anchored in boat pass. think access to the west coast through this shortcut is just for the local boats, but will check it out by dinghy and see if we can venture through on roxi in a few days - fingers crossed no adventure to report if we do give it a whirl.

yesterday we were in baie de pam and explored by paddleboard (sup), we landed at a beach covered in what we thought were rocks & stones as normal, but were actually lumps of rough steel. from the intact bucket shapes that were still set in concrete we could see the steel had been roughly smelted then moulded to create a breakwater and/or loading area for the ships.

we had seen a couple of ruins of small houses as we passed along the shore, walking further inland we could see huge ruins, amazing retaining walls still in good condition and doing their job over 100 years later. wanting to find out more we went through the doorway, the ground was covered with trees, vines & bushes, the steel roof supports were very rusty and had mostly collapsed, hidden under the foliage now. the windows and doorways had their red brick arches and wood lintels stil intact, the stairs were perfect, having been constructed of glazed bricks they'd remained impervious to the rain. we saw the massive rusted out water tank high up the hill, above the boiler, this would have been needed to create the steam to drive the machinery. looking harder we found the water pumps, amazing the quality of the engineering that was produced all that time ago - the stamp announcing model no 7 made by t h waite brothers of bradford was still proudly displayed.

the gold rush in new cal began around 1870, this foundry had been built in 1876/77, the ships that were loaded with the gold ore from here went to australia - and swansea in wales. amazing with the lure of riches to entice that the ships were loaded in the uk with the construction materials and necessary machinery, arrived, constructed housing and the foundry, left with holds full of ore for the voyage back via cape of good hope.

unfortunately after all this investment they only succeeded in extracting 212kg of gold over the 12 years it was open and by 1902 it was officially closed.

the abandoned ruins a legacy of the belief there was for prosperity, the potential for wealth even after the massive costs they must have incurred in the huge distances the ships had to travel. now the plants have moved back in, birds sing and the lizards enjoy basking on the machinery.

Tue Oct 8 16:13 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 14.14s 164 18.17e
Run: 12.6nm (22.8km)

baie de pam on the ne coast still, we can see the top of grand terre - and once we round that the beat south begins.

the towering lush mountains laced with white ribbons of waterfalls have been replaced by low rounded hills, more arid here with dried brown grass and short scrubby trees.

meanwhile it's gorgeous and hot and a paddleboard / swim trip is planned.

Tue Oct 8 16:13 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 22.53s 164 35.36e
Run: 20.9nm (37.8km)

pouebo, access to the village is up the river, side tracked by the choice of tributaries we explored the mangrove area by dinghy, the more we looked at those trees the more incredible we thought they were, perfectly adapted to survival where salt and fresh water meet, sending down aerial roots that branch when they touch the water, forming dense thickets that must absorb the impact of large waves.

later we took the paddleboards on the seaward side and looking closely at the extensive mangroves - it is perfect how the mass of roots protects the shoals of tiny fish we saw - as well as the land and villages, from the onslaught of an angry sea.

we watched turtles glide over the sea grass and dunked ourselves in the bath hot shallows before heading back to the deeper pass and going through a frenzy of feeding fish - felt quite intrepid on an inflatable.

Mon Oct 7 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 17.34s 164 29.33e
Run: 17.6nm (31.9km)

balade, arrived in total calm and paddleboarded to the sandy islet to see the monument to huon de kermadec who died in 1793 and was the first european to be buried in new caledonia.

previously, in sept 1774, captain cook landed on this same tiny sandbar to observe an eclipse of the sun.

history lesson over we had a gorgeous paddleboard over the reef, low tide, flat calm and like looking into an aquarium at the variety of coral, the sting rays were utterly ginormous and the feather stars prolific - so gorgeous i got in for a snorkel, the first without a wetsuit, we must have got to the tropics at last!

Sat Oct 5 15:48 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 25.757s 164 42.969e
Run: 41.2nm (74.6km)

still heading north on new caledonia's east cost.

having just enjoyed our first soursop fruit we cannot understand why we've spent so long in the tropics and not discovered them before. we ate it at it's moment of perfection and it was heavenly.

which that reminds me of an observation made by a friend - cruisers tend to stock up with wonderful fresh fruit and veg, then set off to sea, or to deserted coastlines, hoarding the stores for as long as possible, only eating anything when it starts to go off. using the fresh stores before their final moments is a rare occurrence as it feels wrong to eat it if it's possible to keep it. bizarre but true for a number of boats we know - including ourselves.

Mon Sep 30 12:19 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 46.584s 165 13.989e

citizen science - plankton we were sent this link and think it sounds like a good project for cruisers to assist with. dr richard kirby is a plankton biologist at plymouth university and project leader: the project's aim is to ask sailors to help create the biggest global study of the marine plankton, starting now and carrying on forever. if you would like to participate or tell other voyagers in order to help us raise awareness the information is on the internet. here are the links:

Mon Sep 30 11:58 2013 NZDT
GPS: 20 46.584s 165 13.989e

touho as our problems in london are not yet resolved - there are worse places to be procrastinating.

yesterday we even watched the dugong for around an hour as it surfaced, then disappeared to feed again with it's mermaid tail fully visible as it dived just a couple of boat lengths from roxi - at last a real sighting! went to the outer reef to snorkel, but the reef just off the anchorage had far more prolific coral growth and variety. what was wonderful out here was a small sandy ilot that was covered in seabirds, terns and chicks that were barely fledged or still unable to fly and the dark birds - no bird id book aboard, sorry - with new fluffy chicks or eggs. it was quite incredible, we've not seen that number of birds for a long time.

birds galore
Thu Sep 26 15:46 2013 NZST
GPS: 20 46.584s 165 13.989e

still here in touho.

now the long weekend is over we have access to great internet at some point each day allowing us to deal with the problem with the collapsed ceiling in our london flat. luckily we are somewhere with a secure and pretty anchorage plus, almost regular, internet access, that is a combo hard to find on this coast.

this village is more affluent than the mining town we were at previously, there the ladies played bingo marking their cards with small stones and pebbles, here they have beads or coloured glass blobs for their markers. bingo seems to be extremely popular in new cal - the rates for hiring the communal 'halls' are more for bingo sessions than for the fruit & veg market.

as we have internet thought i'd upload a photo of the whale, sadly the camera was being temperamental so we only got a couple of shots - and none of the calf - anyway here she is - too big to fit in the frame!

big humpback whale!
Tue Sep 24 18:29 2013 NZST
GPS: 20 46.584s 165 13.989e
Run: 32.7nm (59.2km)

in the town of touho, it's been rainy and overcast for several days so no snorkeling yet - on the plus side the water tanks are full.

tried trolling on way here as food supplies low - nothing, until i noticed what i thought was weed dragging across the surface behind us.

we brought in the lure to see we'd snagged a yellow sea krait, a sea snake, by it's tail.

this was worrying as it was still alive and they are highly poisonous - although their mouths are very small so it's hard for them to bite people.

in the end we managed to release it, and it swam away from us, alive, but no doubt a bit sore.

Sat Sep 21 8:40 2013 NZST
GPS: 21 08.99s 165 32.60e
Run: 25.3nm (45.8km)

anchored in baie de ugue after motor-sailing north along the east coast writing this listening to the exhalation of a few dolphins as they hunt for their breakfast around us; reminds me of catching squid when we were in lifou, catching them was too lovely as you watch them watching the lure, inspecting it, swapping places with another squid, changing colour - like a film, they are beautiful - unfortunately we did catch a couple for supper, then we spotted a giant trevally who'd come to investigate, si instantly changed lures and was all keen to catch it.

meanwhile i gutted the squid and threw the innards over in small pieces.

the huge old fish swam right by si's lure and ate the squid bits, then he waited until i dropped over the next bit, he was eating barely a metre away from my hand for several minutes until we ran out - and si decided he was too wonderful to try and catch after all.

Fri Sep 20 8:10 2013 NZST
GPS: 21 23.456s 165 50.344e
Run: 42.9nm (77.6km)

anchored at kouaoua opposite the nickel conveyor - at 13km it is the longest curved conveyor in the world.

went to the 'bustling mining town' for internet and supplies, the town consists of rows of small apartments with air con units, tv & large 4wd - everything to keep the mine workers happy the shop is out of eggs and onions with no idea when they'll be in stock, there are, of course, a selection of fresh croissants & pastries.

heading north up the coast and hope to find wonderful snorkeling again soon.

Wed Sep 18 10:20 2013 NZST
GPS: 21 41.31s 166 25.5e
Run: 67.8nm (122.7km)

tropical wilderness, gorgeous and lush with wonderful birdsong and swathes of soft coral abounding with life wherever we snorkel.

we're hoping to head north up this undeveloped east coast to another amazing reef area called poindimie.

but now our mission has to be to find a town with internet as a ceiling in our london flat landed on our tenants bed - luckily she wasn't in it - and we have to sort this out - all a bit surreal in these surroundings.

Sat Sep 14 20:07 2013 NZST
GPS: 20 55.428s 167 05.015e


we've just had the most amazing experience this morning when we swam with a mother and calf humpback whale for the first time.

the humpbacks come to the islands between tonga & new caledonia to give birth in the warm sheltered waters of the many islands, it's quite late in the season - but we were lucky, this morning we were told a whale was on the reef at the edge of the bay.

it took us a while to spot the whale, she was lying very still with her dark fun protruding, almost like a log, and just the occasional blow as she exhaled, there was minimal movement, and no obvious sign of a baby from where we were. si jumped off the dinghy and swam towards her a little, suddenly he said he could see the baby being supported horizontally across the mum's nose.

after a while i got in too, and there it was - she was floating tranquilly, the baby resting across her nose, held towards the surface so it could breathe easily, she seemed to be almost stationery, or drifting backwards, flippers relaxed hanging out to the sides, one of them supporting the baby's tail as the rest of her baby is balanced over her faces, the calf's body covering one huge eye, the mum's tail hung downwards, flukes occasional flexed, perhaps reacting to the current.

we watched from the side for a while, so still, peaceful and relaxed, mum and baby motionless - and us too as we hung in the clear warm water.

then we went around to the other side where we could see the mum and she could see us. the baby was facing us and watching too, three and a half pairs of eyes observing each other, us very aware of the size of this majestic animal next to us.

underneath was a dozen of more ramoras, tails wafting gently as they clung to the huge bulk above - reminding me of a big litter of hungry newborns hanging of the teats of a dog.

meanwhile the one big new baby sometimes got off and swam above the mothers head, finning energetically through the water, total length from mum's nose to her flukes, almost bath sized. then they'd resume the resting pose and time would seem to stop.

we spent a privileged hour or so with them, and left feeling quite awestruck that a wild creature would be so relaxed letting her new baby be watched by us for such a long time.

Thu Sep 12 13:20 2013 NZST
GPS: 20 55.461s 167 05.037e

nighttime squalls in sandal baie - lifou

had a bit of a crazy night; a flat calm evening and early part of the night seemed all set to continue as we took it easy yesterday (again) recovering from flu, but around 0200 all changed dramatically as the wind rose to over 25kt, lightening endlessly flood lit the entire 12nm bay, blinding your eyes even through closed lids. the thunder was almost loud enough to drown out the cacophony of our cupboards as roxi heaved and lurched in the waves. the squall went on for hours, all made more surreal by us both having a fever. i looked behind and the dinghy, on a long line, was rising higher than the self steering gear on the crazy waves, si went to check the anchor and should really have been clipped on with the violent rolling. it all calmed down as the sun rose until the quiet cupboards allowed for a spot of power napping - and as the weather is currently calm and sunny it's like we had a bad joint dream.

unfortunately we'd got very used to the accuracy of the charts in the main new cal lagoon, so here where the plotter shows us anchored on the cliffs by the church and friends hit a reef whilst entering in daylight we were most reluctant to move and preferred to just hold tight.


Tue Sep 10 20:59 2013 NZST
GPS: 20 55.45s 167 05.012e
Run: 106.7nm (193.1km)

in the huge and beautiful baie de sandal on lifou.

i always assumed good health was normal, but having had a fever for 5 days i've forgotten what normal feels like.

and the overnight bouncy sail across to the loyalties was quite surreal.

we arrived yesterday and basically slept, but decided to go into the village today and see if there was a pharmacist who might know what the problem is, there isn't, but, luckily, the doctor visits on tuesdays and we saw him.

he said there's an outbreak of a serious flu virus in noumea and that's what i have. he's prescribed a variety of drugs and will take si back with him to the main town to get them.

it feels better knowing what's wrong and not wondering about dengue fever or other tropical nasties.

so now we have to see what we can do as we've checked out for vanuatu and haven't been able to leave.

Sat Aug 31 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 20.04s 166 24.33e

image: the shark that startled me! another almost-a-dugong moment - or let sleeping sharks lie.

i was snorkeling in the shallow seagrass bed, looking for turtles, with si near(ish) in the dinghy, when i saw what i thought was a dugong - at last! and i had the camera, perfect. i went closer and peered at the shape, trying to see it's mouth eating the grass - as per my imagination.

i got very close but something was amiss, it didn't fit the picture in my head, then the dark mass solidified into a shark, a big one that was snoozing on the bottom. the same hunter we'd watched last night was now digesting all those creatures. my whole body jumped, utterly startled and horrified i'd got so close, this then startled the shark who shot off in such a hurry he still had seaweed trailing from his nose.

of course once he was heading away from me i remembered to take a photo.

Fri Aug 30 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 20.04s 166 24.33e
Run: 25.3nm (45.8km)

back at ilot maitre as it's windy.

the timing for windsurfing here can be critical: after the thermal wind gets up, but before the sharks get up - for breakfast. i was on the beach doing yoga and noticed the gulls suddenly squabbling over something, i looked and saw thrashing fins, a slightly rounded triangle and narrow sweep of a long tail fin clearly visible above the surface, and just 15 meters from the beach. i ran, then mesmerised stood and watched as the fins contorted,churning the water. the circling and thrashing continued, uninterrupted by the express roar of two windsurfers passing close by. i was fixated by it, the shark intent on his meal, the opportunists pecking morsels from the surface, and a spreading oil slick, no horror movie red stain, just the still water silently bearing witness. all this action was about 15 meters from the beach in about a meter of water.

the smooth patch, so obvious in the windy conditions, moved downwind and the fins vanished, i returned to my yoga - the gulls so fired up they threatened me for a while. i watched and saw a few other calm patches expand and drift past the beach, signifying another death - and a slightly fuller tummy. disconcerted by the proximity of the sharks, si came in. we decided to go upwind in the dinghy, then drift over the sandbar and see if we could find a shark. we did, it was threshing through the shallows head down in the sand, hunting, focused and utterly unperturbed by us. we think they were grey reef sharks but not sure what oily reef creatures were being consumed; turtles would take a bit of chomping and we've seen rays hiding in the sand, sea stars are abundant, but are they oily, or tasty? we took photos and some footage before leaving.

shark having a meal.
Tue Aug 27 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 04.79s 166 07.28e
Run: 11nm (19.9km)

in gusty baie de saint-vincent, perfect flat water and simon is windsurfing - well at times he is, otherwise he's either floundering waiting for more wind or being catapulted when he's overpowered.

yesterday we anchored at il ronde, an island that is not a marine reserve - and we saw just 4 fish, admittedly we didn't snorkel, but the coral looked disappointing and with no inhabitants there didn't seem much point.

we went for a walk around it instead and saw 2 pairs of nesting sea eagles. a while back we saw one above us with something in it's claws, but couldn't see clearly what it had. but then one flew so close that we could see he was gripping either a puffer or box fish for his chick(s?).

perhaps the eagles tend to visit the reserves as the fish stocks are better?

Mon Aug 26 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 11.72s 166 14.36e
Run: 14nm (25.3km)

just baked some bread and thought i'd share the recipe with you as we were given this brilliantly speedy recipe by a lovely lady in doves bay rd, here it is:

get 750ml warm water (i always need to use around a litre with my flour)

dissolve 1tsp sugar and 4 tsp yeast and leave to froth.

meanwhile in a large bowl put:

4 cups strong/bread wholemeal flour

2 cups strong/bread white flour

1 cup seeds/oats/nuts/etc - additions of choice

4tsp salt

stir well.

pour in yeast mix and 1 beaten egg.

mix thoroughly. it should be a gloopy, thick porridge-like consistency.

put into 2 loaf tins. smooth tops with water. place in oven then turn onto 200 degrees c.

voila! around 45-55 mins later you will have baked 2 delicious beautifully risen loaves.

Sat Aug 24 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 16.6s 166 26.4e

saturday was carnival in noumea and the theme was the sea. the first float was brilliant with fabulous pink jellyfish created out of enormous helium filled ballons, marine themed acrobats twirling on revolving seaweed and a very convincing fish and octopus on stilts. after that the floats were more homemade, but so much effort had gone into the costumes and energy into most of the dance routines, that we really enjoyed the parade. with the lagoon having unesco world heritage status i was disappointed that pirate and mermaid themes dominated and i didn't see a float with a conservation message.

we eagerly awaited the fireworks, but i think the battersea park firework displays have made my expectations a little too sophisticated for the pacific islands.

Fri Aug 23 15:48 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 16.625s 166 26.415e

back in port moselle marina - with wifi.

so here are a few pics of times over the past few weeks.

the intrepid snake hunters - and the snakes =20


windsurfing at ilot maitre


one of our dinghy trips


and the wonderful clarity


the destination - baie d'upi


and some of the wonderful underwater scenery






Thu Aug 22 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 16.6s 166 26.4e
Run: 8.6nm (15.6km)

back to port moselle marina for laundry and stocking up at the great weekend market.

took in 2 washing machine loads and also did a couple of buckets of handwashing. the weather seemed sunny enough, so we put up several washing lines through the rigging and managed to hang out the lot. roxi looked quite jaunty, but not at all elegant, smothered in an array of flapping colours

then it started raining and didn't stop, we looked more daft than optimistic as everything got thoroughly soaked, but night hid the drips and it all dried the following morning.

and a correction to an earlier assumption: the dinghy from the yacht in the bay by the meridian hotel was not stolen after all, rather an inexperienced crew member didn't realise that he'd mistakenly set the dinghy adrift, and by the time the skipper knew about it, it was morning and the dinghy was long gone.

Mon Aug 19 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 19.38s 166 18.89e
Run: 5.9nm (10.7km)

there are several marne reserves near to noumea, we picked up a mooring buoy at ilot nge, and immediately pulled on our wetsuits and jumped in - to be greeted by around 15 very large bold fish happily in the shade of roxi's hull, we were astonished, both by the size and by the speed they had gathered. we swam to the reef fringing the anchorage and had an amazing snorkel, we were close to one of the passes through the main reef and the coral and marine life were impressive. again we had beautiful clear water and the time flies by when there's so much to see. we paddleboarded at low tide and there were at least a dozen smallish black-tip sharks in the shallows of the reef, initially scared of the boards, but then coming back to take another look, i was glad to be on and not in the water.

Mon Aug 19 0:00 2013 NZST
No position sent.

Sun Aug 18 16:34 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 19.87s 166 24.4e
Run: 67.2nm (121.6km)

after the wonderful snorkelling at gadji we were invited ashore to meet the chief, offer him some token gifts and be welcomed into the community. he made us delicious tisane from lemongrass leaves pulled from the wilderness around his hut, the water comes directly from the river and took a while to boil over the open fire, meanwhile he got out the chainsaw and cut us off a slice from a sandlewood tree trunk which smells wonderful, they distill the wood, send it to france and supply christian dior with the oil.

i remember the first time we had tea in a village made from water boiled on an open fire, i thought we had been made tea from lapsang souchong type leaves, little realising the obvious - it is the open wood fire that imparts the smokey taste. this lemongrass tea with it's added depth of smokiness tasted so exotic, and drunk on a headland overlooking the beautiful lagoon was hard to beat.

there is another raw material that is collected on isle de pins, so far we don't know what for: we dinghied round a headland and found a new beach, the soft white sand was hidden in waves by swathes of perfect miniature shells in rust and auburn. the shells are everywhere and you can scoop up armfuls, with millions more beneath the ones you see, and in places on the edge of the beach are sacks filled with them. we haven't seen another beach like that and we've gone the whole way round the island.

i also found a small furry white crab and had him as a pet for about 20 minutes, he was very cute and soft, no idea what type, he preferred hiding in the nautilus shell i gave him to being held - but seemed happiest when i put him back as we left.

yesterday we arrived at the place simon discovered on youtube, the place that inspired the trip to new cal, a perfect windsurfing spot called ilot maitre, it's very close to noumea so as it's the weekend it's heaving, but the wind was perfect and the lagoon is plenty big enough for everyone. it's also a marine reserve and has pretty coral, fish everywhere, and so many turtles it's wonderful, not quite as common as seagulls, but certainly easy to see a dozen in an hour.

went paddleboarding this morning as the wind was light, and it's almost a dry vertical version of snorkelling with the glass clear surface.

Wed Aug 14 19:38 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 35.9s 167 25.122e
Run: 0.3nm (0.5km)

gadji - isle de pins

another beautiful day in paradise.

yesterday and today we have been snorkelling in the most beautiful underwater scenery. the clarity of the water is incredible, even in the dighy in 8m or so you can see the fish on the coral heads as though through air. the corals are abundant and healthy, there are soft corals and sea fans, hard corals and sponges, grass and weed and numerous inhabitants all sparkling in the sunlight. the top of the reef area is huge and we can see all the way across in beautiful crystal clarity. the deep blue distance occasionally solidifies into a turtle, a school of silvery jacks, a huge napolean wrasse or some other large and fast fish. with all the activity and colours on the reef it is easy to stay in the water for an hour, but too chilly for much longer, but by the time we've got to another reef, the sun on the black wetsuits has warmed us up again and there is another magical experience waiting for us.

the last three sunsets have been spectacular, the evenings are utterly calm, barely a cloud to be seen and there is nothing to the west of us except reef, we watch the sun slide across the sky, seeming to speed up as it dives into the sea and sinks beneath the horizon. the last rays emit a green flash, then the western sky becomes a beautiful golden glow, deepening in richness as the light fades.

shortly after that the stars appear and then the moon, occasionally roxi sits in water so still we are surrounded by the stars above and around us.

Mon Aug 12 16:11 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 35.68s 167 25.27e
Run: 71.1nm (128.7km)
Avg: 2.6knts
24hr: 62.5nm

yesterday, sunday, stayed beautiful and sunny so we went snorkelling at last, the first time in the tropics for ages for us.

the sea was a bit fresh to start with but then so much to distract from that, it was brilliant, lots of darting tiny fish, all sorts of corals and colours, anemones and their clownfish, a few shoals swimming around and the big fish and turtles over in the deeper drop off, even a curious white tip shark that i was hoping would be more scared of me than i was of it, but cruised by almost within arms reach.

we woke to another beautiful morning and left baie d'oro to motorsail round to the ne of isle de pins, meanwhile the cloud and drizzle reappeared, but we also saw a humpback whale in the lagoon and a few dolphins, so it was a nice trip, and now we're anchored in baie de ouameo.

the plan was to dinghy out to go snorkelling around the valllee de gorgones area this afternoon with more wonderfully healthy coral, where eagle rays would look like they are flying in the crystal waters and leopard sharks can be spotted, but that was earlier on before the cloud came down and the drizzle started and a book seems more appealing.

perhaps tomorrow?

Sun Aug 11 12:53 2013 NZST
GPS: 21 34.19s 167 31.17e
Run: 69.1nm (125.1km)

we have just moved back out of the protected pool, the tides are lower now and all three yachts touched the bottom whilst we escaped through the reef.

we were going to leave for a new anchorage but are helping a yacht that that arrived recently, it blew out the genoa sailing in the bad squalls the other night, and then had their dinghy stolen last night - life's better for us.

Thu Aug 8 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 34.164s 167 31.171e
Run: 8.1nm (14.7km)

visited the main town of vao for a few provisions, you anchor in front of an incongruous shrine, a silver sprayed kitch jesus benevolently looking down from his pillar, surrounded by a wall of wonderfully carved wooden poles, the traditional guardians for the people of these islands. then we had an interesting time working our way out of the lagoon through uncharted coral strewn waters, luckily the sun was lighting the water so it was easy to see, then the afternoon clouded over as we beat north to an anchorage protected from the westerly that is forecast. little agile dolphins, possibly long snouted spinner dolphins, entertained us and schools of fish lit the surface, glinting as they leapt from the jaws of the predators below. it was a good sail, and we arrived in the tiny bay of ugo just before the squall cloud reached us.

Wed Aug 7 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 41.189s 167 30.360e
Run: 43.3nm (78.4km)

it was a calm and sunny day and we could at last explore the lagoon, first though we'd heard that the small islot moro, just 3nm away was a breeding place for sea kraits - banded sea snakes with a poisonous bite - and huge spiders, we had to see. we dinghied over and started the search, nothing, then nothing, then i saw one, then we suddenly saw plenty of them. thank goodness we hadn't scrambled up the dark earth bank at the back of the beach thinking of spiders, as there were dozens of gold and brown shiny snakes soaking up the sunshine and heat. the search for spiders was less successful, and we had to get back so we could move roxi. that afternoon we explored by dinghy again, this time up a narrow shallow pass into baie d'upi, an almost enclosed lagoon of deep blue water with wonderful silver and grey limestone formations embossed with coral prints and topped with masses of vegetation, incredible that trees can grow on what looks like decorative cement.

Mon Aug 5 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 39.616s 167 26.460e
Run: 69.2nm (125.3km)

we're in isle de pins and for those of you who read our updates, i apologise for their lack of interest and regularity, but the weather has been unusually unseasonally untropical, just day after day of grey, back to that uk feeling of living in a tupperware box with the lid on. no good at all for trying to work your way through coral strewn waters and explore the reefs and bays as the charts all have warnings saying don't rely on them as it is insufficiently surveyed, we need to use eyeball navigation, and that's not possible in the flat grey light. so there's not much to tell. the last sail we had was chilly, wet - and fast, difficult to see the pass through the reef and no good at all for whale spotting with all the waves and wind blown spray, it is the season the humpbacks are here with their babies - we're still hoping to see one.

we did get to isle de pins though and it is very lovely, quite different from the main island of new caledonia, far less developed, and it's great weather for walking. we hiked to the peak, n'ga and could see almost the entire island. we stood there and planned which bays to visit, where would be a great dinghy trip, and where would be wonderful to paddleboard - all of course on that morning when we wake up to the turquoise waters of the tropics.

we had another walk where i was gathering armfuls of pumice and trying to hold onto my bundle of treasures, whilst keeping my eyes peeled for the next perfect piece, i do know it floats, but somehow i tried to walk across a patch of pumice which turned out to be hiding a knee deep pool. thank goodness no-one saw the embarrassing slip as the ground disappeared beneath my feet and i stumbled and tripped into the hole - didn't drop my precious goodies though.

we are in baie de kuto and the water is clear, several turtles live around here and it's lovely watching their huge heads apear and listening to them draw in a deep breath before subsiding again. we also have 'the boys' living under our boat - a group of large aggressive ramoras - which are fun to watch when you chuck scraps over for them to gobble and squabble over.

fingers crossed for the beautiful island blues and greens to reappear very soon.

Mon Aug 5 0:00 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 22.9s 166 54.8e
Run: 38.8nm (70.2km)

we're on our way to vanuatu, but we need to wait for some kinder weather, even here in the lagoon we had waves covering the coachroof, gallons of water rushing down the deck strewing seaweed in the lifelines and leaving holes behind them to cause small chaos areas down below - things that have happily remained in place over the years were tossed across the cabin as we beat into the steep seas. we're waiting for things to calm down a little before we head east any further.

re the 'thresher shark' i saw - well i don't actually know what a thresher shark looks like, but as it had this long tail and a weaving motion the name sounded good - sorry.

but i do now know what i saw as we went to the aquarium and they have one. it's either a zebra or leopard shark depending on whether you're french or english. it is brown and spotted and does have an amazingly long sweeping top tail fin and an almost non-existent lower fin to the tail. it didn't look too scary after all and i wish i'd stayed in the water longer to watch it when we were in tenia.

Mon Aug 5 0:00 2013 NZST
No position sent.

Fri Jul 26 15:16 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 16.637s 166 26.411e
Run: 5nm (9.1km)
Weather: has been beautifully tropical=2c cloudy and windy today. =

here in port moselle=2c noumea. had a couple of wonderful nights w=

ith no nightwatches - that feels normal again now.

Tue Jul 23 11:18 2013 NZST
GPS: 22 21s 166 26e
Run: 101.5nm (183.7km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 143.2nm
Weather: ese 15kn. overcast. really warm!

just approaching port moselle to check-in. bit of a scary reef pass, but all good!

Mon Jul 22 18:17 2013 NZST
GPS: 23 36.72s 167 14.96e
Run: 168nm (304.1km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 169.1nm
Weather: mainly 13knts se. squally at times 2m swell. 1018 hpa

sadly all slowed down a bit and we have a full night before we arrive. 80nm to passe, then 13nm to check in. current against us for now, hopefully it'll improve during the evening.

Sun Jul 21 18:26 2013 NZST
GPS: 25 30.40s 168 55.39e
Run: 69.8nm (126.3km)
Avg: 7.7knts
24hr: 183.7nm
Weather: 18knts ese 1.5m swell. 1019 hpa

back to single reef and flatter seas, a bit of a cruisey day really.

Sun Jul 21 9:19 2013 NZST
GPS: 26 24.07s 169 26.728e
Run: 112.1nm (202.9km)
Avg: 7.6knts
24hr: 181.6nm
Weather: 18knts ese 2m swell. 1020 hpa

double reef in main around 2am, that made things much calmer, were doing crazy 8kn+ speeds and seas a bit bouncy. life's warming up though, may shed a layer of merino - and take that reef back out. less than 300nm to the reef pass.

Sat Jul 20 18:30 2013 NZST
GPS: 27 48s 170 22.e
Run: 65.3nm (118.2km)
Avg: 8knts
24hr: 191.9nm
Weather: 20knts ese 2m swell 40% cloud cover. 1019 hpa

seas less lumpy and easier for autopilot now. few squalls - but it's warmer and we're making good speeds

Sat Jul 20 10:20 2013 NZST
GPS: 28 39.41s 170 49.11e
Run: 130.9nm (236.9km)
Avg: 8.4knts
24hr: 201.6nm
Weather: 25knts ese 1023hpa, blue sky and blue sea.

been a fast night, but forgotten how tiring big seas on beam are. basic hygiene is barely managed - and thank goodness for those frozen meals.

Fri Jul 19 18:45 2013 NZST
GPS: 30 15.25s 171 59.30e
Run: 68.8nm (124.5km)
Avg: 9.7knts
24hr: 232nm
Weather: 20knts e 1025hpa

been a fast day. made bread. watched albatrosses. getting used to hanging on as big swells hit the beam.

Fri Jul 19 11:38 2013 NZST
GPS: 31 09.647s 172 27.935e
Run: 107.1nm (193.9km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.6nm
Weather: 18knts e 1.8m swell 80% cloud cover. 1029 hpa

had a speedy night, now 1 reef in main. seas bit lumpier. si poorly, (hope i don't get it) but helming and feeling ok.

Thu Jul 18 19:55 2013 NZST
GPS: 32 37.555s 173 03.581e
Run: 61.4nm (111.1km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 157.1nm
Weather: e15. sea slight. baro 1030. not too chilly.

stopped the engine at 1515, now gd sailing

Thu Jul 18 10:32 2013 NZST
GPS: 33 27.78s 173 24.94e
Run: 134.1nm (242.7km)
Avg: 3.5knts
24hr: 83.7nm
Weather: A 5knts se, slight seas, total cloud cover, 1033 baro

Motor sailing in fickle winds. Sometimes 6kn, more often under 5kn. All going well. Sea slight.

Tue Jul 16 20:04 2013 NZST
GPS: 35 18.75s 174 07.53e
Run: 9.4nm (17km)

should be off in the morning - weds.

Tue Jul 16 10:54 2013 NZST
GPS: 35 12s 174 02e
Run: 1nm (1.8km)

still in the kerikeri inlet, but nearly ready to depart.

Wed Jun 26 11:26 2013 NZST
GPS: 35 12.9s 174 02.0e

still enjoying the =

peace of kerikeri inlet before heading north.


Tue Jun 25 22:46 2013 NZST
GPS: 35 12.9s 174 02.0e
Run: 1nm (1.8km)

still waiting to leave - for various reasons

Tue Jun 18 16:47 2013 NZST
GPS: 35 12s 174 02e
Run: 8738.6nm (15816.9km)

still in kerikeri inlet waiting to leave

Sun Dec 10 12:00 2000 NZDT
GPS: 14n 01.13n 061 00.377w
Run: 3066.3nm (5550km)
Avg: 5.6knts
24hr: 133.3nm

st lucia

Fri Nov 17 12:00 2000 NZDT
GPS: 27n 45.548n 015 32.027w
Run: 1760.6nm (3186.7km)

grand canaria

Fri Aug 4 10:00 2000 NZST
GPS: 50n 50.803n 001 18.783w

port solent - start of trip.

Roxi - Roxi - Nov 2013

not left yet - having fun though. skimming over the sea. meeting myrtle and flying above the bay. perhaps we'll leave by the weekend..?

free flying

Roxi - paddleboarding & paddlecat

we'd heard that the hienghene river is beautiful and decided to explore it on our paddleboards. of course the tides were ebbing in the morning and flooding after lunch, so it was going to be a workout. we set off late morning and were surprised by the speed we made with the wind behind us - best enjoy it as the return will be a hard slog. we passed plantations with banana trees drooping just above our heads, their huge red flowers and green bunches such an image of the tropics. towering to the Read more...

sky the mountainsides were covered with an array of greens, interspersed with incredible trees with bright orange flowers. herons flew low over the river, kingfishers dived and parakeets chattered overhead, it was really lovely and we paddled on for a couple of hours enjoying the new view round each meander. then there was a strident yowling - strange. si spotted the source first, but didn't change course - a small black kitten on a sandbar. next thing it had waded into the river and started swimming towards me - of course i was now paddling towards it. i scooped it up and carried it to the shore, a bedraggled bundle of fragile bones covered in grass seeds with round grey eyes and a wide pink mouth - we couldn't ignore it. i set off to try and find a house or some people - there was nothing. returning to si we decided to take it with us. i put him on the board between my feet and off we went up the river again. he stayed still for a while, but complained constantly, probably because he was starving. then he walked to the front of the board - and before i knew what would happen he'd jumped over the front and disappeared beneath the nose. nightmare - i was running over the top of him, but i had to keep going, to stop or change course may have prolonged the disaster, forcing him right under the water for longer if i turned the wrong way. luckily he didn't get stuck in the fins and suddenly reappeared behind me, i turned the board, tried to scoop him out on the paddle blade as his nose was barely above the surface, the slippery surface was no good and the kitten fell in and went under again, i struggled to grab him and fell in too, meanwhile si was laughing as the scene unfolded, (though that's because he didn't know i'd run over the top of the kitten). eventually the kitten and i were back on my board - and we needed to re-think the plan. si's shorts had pockets, so we slipped the kitten in, he struggled for a while as we paddled onwards, then stopped trying to escape and was still. we got to our turning point and si wanted to swim, holding the kitten we discovered the reason for the stillness was he was freezing cold and shivering. i cuddled and dried him off whilst si's shorts dried in the sun, then we lined the pocket with soft dry bamboo leaves, put the kitten back in and started the return trip down river, pc (pocket cat / paddle cat or petite chat) had his head out resting on a paw and dozed off as we battled the gusts that blasted up the river. happily, apart from the battle to get down one memorably slow stretch, the wind was not consistent and we made good progress back to the village and our dinghy. arriving at roxi i opened a can of sardines, the kitten was utterly ravenous and tried to eat the spoon too. i washed him to get rid of the salt from his earlier dunkings and fed him again, he was still hungry - and so thirsty. and so the evening passed - me cuddling, feeding, brushing and stroking pc and si talking about market day tomorrow and the number of extra people that would be in the village. morning came and we had a happy fluffy kitten to offer. after a few "non's" we approached the right soft hearted man, he cooched pc behind the ears, smiled and said 'oui'. i handed him over - reluctantly.

paddle cat in Si's pocket
Ali with Paddle cat.
Paddle cat aboard

Roxi - New Cal updates

Back in Port Moselle marina - with wifi. So here are a few pics of times over the past few weeks. The intrepid snake hunters - and the snakes

The intrepid snake hunters
And the snakes
Windsurfing at Ilot Maitre
One of our dinghy trips
And the wonderful clarity
The destination - Baie d'Upi
And some of the wonderful underwater scenery

Roxi - isle de pins

for those of you who read our updates, i apologise for their lack of interest and regularity, but the weather has been unusually unseasonally untropical, just day after day of grey, back to that uk feeling of living in a tupperware box with the lid on. no good at all for trying to work your way through coral strewn waters and explore the reefs and bays as the charts all have warnings saying don't rely on them as it is insufficiently surveyed, we need to use eyeball navigation, and that's not Read more...

possible in the flat grey light. so there's not much to tell. the last sail we had was chilly, wet - and fast, difficult to see the pass through the reef and no good at all for whale spotting with all the waves and wind blown spray, it is the season the humpbacks are here with their babies - we're still hoping to see one.
we did get to isle de pins though and it is very lovely, quite different from the main island of new caledonia, far less developed, and it's great weather for walking. we hiked to the peak, n'ga and could see almost the entire island. we stood there and planned which bays to visit, where would be a great dinghy trip, and where would be wonderful to paddleboard - all of course on that morning when we wake up to the turquoise waters of the tropics.
we had another walk where i was gathering armfuls of pumice and trying to hold onto my bundle of treasures, whilst keeping my eyes peeled for the next perfect piece, i do know it floats, but somehow i tried to walk across a patch of pumice which turned out to be hiding a knee deep pool. thank goodness no-one saw the embarrassing slip as the ground disappeared beneath my feet and i stumbled and tripped into the hole - didn't drop my precious goodies though.
we are in baie de kuto and the water is clear, several turtles live around here and it's lovely watching their huge heads apear and listening to them draw in a deep breath before subsiding again. we also have 'the boys' living under our boat - a group of large aggressive ramoras - which are fun to watch when you chuck scraps over for them to gobble and squabble over.
fingers crossed for the beautiful island blues and greens to reappear very soon.

Roxi - new caledonia

roxi really went amazingly fast on our trip north from nz, we had a wonderful moon all the way, so bright we could read by it - actually the kindle paperwhites were amazing - almost the best thing on the boat, the other great thing was having made meals and frozen them, cooking would have been interestingly challenging during some of our hectic trip - heating was no problem at all. high dark hills materialised on the horizon as dawn on the sixth day lightened, there were no waves to help find Read more...

the pass - you avoid the waves and look for the smooth areas, but for us it all looked smooth. we found the pass, sailed through and by lunch time customs had cleared us in.
new caledonia has a reputation for being expensive, and it's true a trip to the supermarket is scary, even the local market is expensive, but whilst in the city we did the cultural things; museums, botanical gardens, the tjibaou cultural centre (stunning) - all really interesting and the bus fares and entrance fees were cheap. the lagoon surrounding new caledonia has unesco heritage status and many areas are a marine reserve, so we're looking forward to exploring under the water.
it's been grey, chilly and wet since last we arrived and i wore my merino for the first five days and we still need the duvet but yesterday we managed to leave the marina under a veil of drizzle and grey and headed to a marine reserve on the outer reef which was lit from above by bright blue. wonderful to arrive, anchor in the sun and eat a perfect baguette for lunch. if proof were needed that we were in a marine reserve; we threw over a floating thermometer to test the sea temp, it was instantly assaulted by two large ramora and several snapper type fish - so glad i hadn't jumped in. then a loud exhalation announced the appearance of a huge turtle - we're still discussing which species - it had large protruding eyeballs. we sailed over the flat seas inside the reef, keeping an eye on the depth as it's not possible to see through the sea surface and spot the coral reefs when it's overcast - until we found shelter behind a tiny island which is another marine reserve. we thought it would be peaceful here out of the city, but the noise of the fish all night were enough to wake you up. another day sail across flat blue seas where we could see through to the reefs, this time surrounded by hills showing deep red mining scars amidst the green foliage and past chimneys of a processing plant adding their clouds to the sky. tonights stop is just 40nm from isle de pins, our intended destination and an idyllic spot with good walking and snorkelling.
thought we were in the middle of nowhere, but i've just been hand feeding a duck that turned up.

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