Totem Poles on teh Ile des Pines

 Superted V

Blog & Photos - Sept 2013

1 - 3 Sept - Few days in Noumea before heading for the west coast of Grande Terre. The anchorages and marinas in Noumea are really crowded so it was great to be out of there! Our first stop along the west coast was a small deserted bay on Ile Moro - the wind was blowing quite strongly but once tucked into the bay it was calm and flat. Spent a night there and lunched at the reef island of Ile Mboa before the wind got up again. It seems that at around 11 every morning the wind increases by about 10 knots!

4 - 11 Sept - Exploring the huge bay of St Vincent - there are so many different anchorages for shelter from every wind direction and lots of islands - very much like the Bay of Islands in New Zealand but in the whole time we were there we only saw one other boat and that was in our first anchorage - Presqu'ile Uitoe - and that turned out to belong to a local couple who keep it anchored there whilst they live ashore and work as 'guardians' for a large estate. They invited us to explore the estate and brought us baguettes fresh from the bakery in Noumea! Spent a few days exploring the 'presqu'ile' - literally translated as 'almost island' - on foot. It's cowboy country - with 4x4 cars, cowboy hats, horses and hunting for deer. We met the guardian of the neighbouring estate - who has a small holding which we had passed with very friendly ducks, geese, donkeys. goats, chickens, horses and even some peacocks! Did a lot of walking/hiking at each bay - it was quite windy the whole week but we always had great shelter from the wind and swell. In the Baie des Mostiques we nearly blew away when we got to the top of the ridge but it was worth it for the view. Visited another couple of bays before heading back towards Noumea. Spent a couple of nights at Baie Maa which is about 10 miles north of Noumea but again with no other boats!

11/12 Sept - Back to the crowds of Noumea to stock up ready for our trip out to the Ile des Pines.

13 Sept - Stopped at Baie Ire on Ile Ouen - a fabulous island covered in forest but with red earth which makes a great contrast in colours.

14 - 23 Sept - Baie de Kuto Ile des Pines. Once again did a lot of walking/hiking. Although there are several anchorages in different parts of the island, most of them were too shallow for us so we stayed in Kuto bay. Visited some of the remains of one of the French colonial prisons where about 3000 convicts were sent in 1872. The last prisoners left the island in 1912. The water tower which was built around 1870 is still in use today. Climbed the highest peak - Pic N'Ga - from the top it's obvious why it is called the island of pines!

18 Sept - Jean's 60th - hired a car and explored the rest of the island. Had lunch at the Meridian hotel by Oro bay and snorkeled in a natural pool where Matt was attacked by a very viscous damsel fish (about 5 inches long but it did have attitude!)

24 Sept - Started our cruise of the east coast of Grande Terre - first anchorage Kuebini - a very big sheltered bay behind several reef islands - again we were the only boat there! Spent some time snorkeling on the reef - great topography with lots of ravines - clear water. Took the dinghy up the river and went for a hike. Great views over the bay.

27 Sept - Yate - Met up with a kiwi couple we had previously met in Kuto. We were reliably informed by the tourist bureau that there was a fete at the mission about 5 kms away - so we thought we'd hitch hike. Maybe because it was Saturday there were very few cars on the road and no-one wanted to stop. Fortunately a bus came by which dropped us off at the mission - only to find when we got there that it was more of a 'bingo' day for the local ladies! When we enquired about a bus back we were told yes no problem there's one tomorrow morning - no wait it's Sunday so there won't be one until Monday morning! So back to the main road and thumbs out again. Not much traffic again but one car did pull over and offered to squeeze us all in - just as we had got into the back seat a police car pulled up! Of course it's illegal to have more people than seat belts so Matt and I got out and John and Sue got the lift. About half an hour later we still hadn't got a lift but who should turn up but the same couple who had stopped the first time - they had dropped off our friends and come all the way back for us! They were from Reunion island and in New Cal on business and were sight seeing during the weekends and that was the first time they had seen a police car!

29 Sept - On to the next bay of Koukoue where we had 2 pet snappers living under the boat - they were a good couple of dinners size but we felt bad about trying to catch them so didn't bother! Another lovely bay with good snorkeling on the reef. Had a wild pig and piglet wander down to the beach one morning. Watched ospreys diving for fish. High hills surrounding covered in forest but with red earth slashes and patches.

Position as at 30 September S21.56.26 E166.40.22 

Oct 2013......