Captain Cook named New Caledonia. At sunset, motoring through Canal Woodin from Baie du Prony I could see the resemblance to Old Caledonia – rolling hills in soft olive green, grey and lilac.
What can I say about Noumea? Port Moselle is now crammed with yachts, most of them local, and we were very lucky indeed to find a berth at the marina. The weather here has been miserable – we have been plagued by cold, windy conditions with heavy rain squalls for the last week. I pity the young bling things who have flown in for a tropical resort week in New Caledonia.
Melanie has left us for an airBNB week here before flying home to Paris, while Jochen has gone off for some kite surfing. I have been pottering with minor repairs, stocking up on SAE 40 motor oil and, well, having an occasional tipple. Ian who did Tainui’s Transatlantic crossing last year, has settled into the ultimate luxury of our aft cabin playpen – a berth he has coveted for 12 years. He is still to discover the downside of the playpen (when Mr Ford is running).
Noumea is much changed since I was last here. Highways chockablock with shiny cars wrap around the bay. There are upmarket boutiques everywhere, mostly empty. Elegantly dressed French men and women provide sharp contrast to the groups of poor indigenes loitering about with that familiar aimlessness of the disenfranchised. If the separatist vote prevails in the 2018 referendum here these Kanaks will be not a jot better off.
We plan to visit the Renzo Piano cultural centre before clearing customs for the Australian coast on the weekend. There is some very ordinary weather looming in the southern Coral Sea and the Tasman. Strong westerlies mean that our destination is yet to be determined. Coffs Harbour has been our preferred port of entry but after the recent storm damage I doubt it will be accessible. Brisbane? Newcastle?
We will see.