Day 1 Amadee
Amédée Island and Out to Sea
Engine on at seven o’clock, we were finally beginning our journey to Sydney, Australia. Beez gently reversed and made her way to the end of ‘A’ dock. We did our long standing habit of kissing each other and waving to our nest. At the end of ‘B’ dock was this awesome looking trimaran, we can only guess at her speed and how she looks in action, we agreed she certainly looked sleek.
We waved ‘farewell’ to Noumea and in many ways feel we haven’t done full justice to New Caledonia as we never ventured out of the marina to see any of the off islands. Mmm. Noumea in all honesty though, was all about getting ready for this particular onward journey.
A working girl bade us ‘farewell’.............
................and some One Careful Owners.
Funny, it was not until this outward journey we realised just how big the marina is.
Passing the Pilot Station.
Bye bye Port Moselle.
As we went out of the door you-know-who began putting ropes and fenders away.
At the door to the marina we looked right to where the cruise ships park. After such a long time we still wondered at multi-storey buildings.
A chum getting ready for sea, out into the bay, main sail up on a beautiful sunny day. Past the final red marker.
Past the interesting ‘lump’ I had admired on the way in and out into the main road.
Main road it may be, but, still only a hundred feet deep – for some miles yet. Noumea already beginning to fade behind us.
A very chuffed skipper as we headed for Amédée Island, seen to the right of the cursor. Plan A, to sail up to a buoy, have a sandwich and maybe go ashore for a stroll to see the lighthouse. As we got closer the wind was very definitely against us and we were doing less than two miles an hour digging in to eight foot waves. Plan B, to continue and hope to get a picture or two as we passed by.
I for one was very disappointed. The Amédée lighthouse is the tallest metal one – along with its twin, in the world. Bear was fed up as he had often gone to the booking office next to the marina to get us a ferry ride out to the island, never seeing a soul about. We knew before we arrived in New Caledonia that we couldn’t go into the lighthouse as it was closed to tourist visits due to extensive maintenance being done. Sighs all round.
What really made us cross was as we snuck closer, heading further right to a more favourable current, we could see a ferry AND people wandering along the beach. Double growling was heard. We could now see the leading mark to the right of the island that we would line up with to exit the enormous fringing reef and out to deep water.
To our right the Tabou mark, reef clear to see.
At this point I got the big lens trained on the lighthouse – had I seen a single tourist waving I would have felt the strongest need to head back to Noumea ready to box someone’s ears. No matter how often I focused I didn’t see anyone. I’m sure I heard Bear sigh in relief.
Wiki says: The Amédée lighthouse is an iron lighthouse located on Amédée Island, 24 km away from Nouméa, New Caledonia.
The metal components were made by Rigolet in North-East Paris in 1862 and the tower was constructed in Paris as a demonstration. It was then disassembled into pieces weighing a total of 387,953 kilos and transported along the River Seine to the port of Le Havre for its voyage to New Caledonia. At 56 metres tall (247 steps), it is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world and it was the first metallic lighthouse constructed in France. The foundation stone was laid on the 18th of January 1865 and it was first lit on the 15th of November 1865, the saint day of the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. Its light signals the entrance to the passage of Boulari, one of only three natural passages in the reef surrounding New Caledonia. On the other side of the world, the Roches-Douvres Light in the English Channel is the twin brother of the Amédée lighthouse. It is now a very popular tourist attraction.
In 1859, the acting Commandant of New Caledonia, Jean-Marie Saisset, asked the government in Paris to build a lighthouse to help ships navigating into the port of Nouméa (then Fort-de-France), particularly as the colony had been chosen as a new destination for French convicts.
Taking into account the lack of stonemasons and other skilled workers in the colony, the French lighthouse commission proposed a pre-fabricated iron design, a relatively new method first used in 1841 by the British consulting engineer, Alexander Gordon, for the Morant Point Lighthouse in Jamaica. The Minister for the Navy and the Colonies Prosper de Chasseloup-Laubat, approved the project and appointed Léonce Reynaud who had already designed many lighthouses, and who had also designed the original Gare du Nord in Paris.
Reynaud followed Gordon in making the pieces out of puddled iron, and in keeping the lighthouse narrow enough to be constructed without scaffolding. He innovated by keeping the internal structure independent of the external envelope: this was intended as protection against corrosion in the humid tropical environment for which he was designing. The plans were exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition in London.
The metalwork was fabricated in four months by Rigolet, who were then required to construct the tower near their works in the 19th arrondissement of Paris as a demonstration of its stability. The lighthouse remained in Paris from July 1862 to June 1864 and became a popular destination for Parisians’ walks. The pieces, packed in 1,200 crates and weighing 388 tonnes, were transported to Le Havre by barge and then shipped to New Caledonia, arriving in November 1864. The lighthouse was constructed on Amédée Island by a mixed team of French soldiers and local workers under the direction of Louis-Émile Bertin, later to be a major naval architect both for France and for Japan.
One final wistful look and then to the business of lining up.
Lined up with the leading mark.
To our right a dive boat waiting for her tourists, apparently great things to see, another growl from me.
We popped out of the gap in the reef and immediately into the deep ocean itself.
Looking back gave us a picture of just how far off the main reef is.
At midday we had done twenty four miles, engine off, good wind and bowling along happily at six knots. A perfect day to be sailing. Just a thousand and forty miles to do. Sadly, too rough to play backgammon but at the end of Bears shift things looked very settled and in the groove. Watching him peacefully asleep, just a very gentle snore, I settled to enjoy the blue surface flashed with the odd white horse and began a new audiobook, sea birds swooping around for company.
ALL IN ALL A BRILLIANT START
SAILING AT ITS VERY BEST