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Date: 01 Oct 2012 04:31:00
Title: Vanuatu to New Caledonia - Day 2 - 21 16.36S 168 05.47E

Noon-to-noon run of 138.1 miles. Not too bad considering the wind has been up and down for the last 24 hours. One minute we're making 6-7kts and the next 3-4kts. Since leaving Tanna we've had wind ahead of the beam, so no downwind sailing on this passage. To keep up a reasonable speed we've been working hard on sail changes - putting in reefs and taking them out, and switching genoas, the outer when the winds are light and the inner if they get stronger. It's full moon time and last night started with clear skies, so the seas were lit up as if by a huge floodlight. Clouds filled the skies by the early hours, but it was still light enough to do most things without a torch. The full moon makes night sailing so much more enjoyable.

The original plan was to go south of the Loyalty Islands, which are about 80 miles east of New Caledonia, and the ESE winds made this possible. At least they did up until the last minute before reaching the islands. They then went further south and we had to bear away to keep sailing. So we're now cutting through the Loyalties, between Mare and Lifou. Cape Roussin on Mare is a bit like Portland Bill, not in shape, but in the fact that it's one of those places that seem to take forever to get past! The Loyalties are a part of New Caledonia and are supposed to be some of the best islands in the South pacific, with idyllic beaches. It would be nice to stop here before going on to New Caledonia, but you are not allowed to visit them before you've cleared Customs and Immigration. There are heavy fines if you're caught there before checking in. The only place to check in is Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, but that's around 120 miles away (80 to the mainland and another 40 within the reef). So it's quite a long haul back to the Loyalties and not something we have time for this season, but perhaps next year.

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