Tue 30 Aug 2011 05:43
20.14 S 169.46 E
Well, the usual thing happened as we got closer to the island of Anatom - we hooked an enormous bull mahi-mahi! After a valiant effort put on by the fish and a spectacle of speed and out-manouvering viewed by us - he broke free - for once leaving us with the lure......
We anchored in a big sheltered bay on sunday morning after a good passage from Fiji. Two villages are spread around the bay and already we could see that village life revolved around the beach and the water. 2 metre tides mean that the reef is exposd at low water and many people were out hunter-gathering. One other boat was in the anchorage, so we were able to pick up all the local info before they left the following day.
A walk ashore later in the day revealed the customs man was at another village and may be back later. However an immigration and a quarantine man were in town as they were expecting a cruise ship on tuesday! So, we arranged for them to come to the boat at 8am monday. This all went smoothly, after tours of the boat and many orange juices, however Colin from customs continued to be illusive. We went to the "bank" - to exchange enough money to pay the entry fees - a small cottage overlooking the bay (with two employees) - had to be the best bank location in the world!
While waiting for Colin to appear we visited "Mystery Island" - a beautiful small sandy island just off the shore and within the barrier reef. Apparently cruise ships drop in here weekly and disgorge 2,000 people for a cultural experience! Fortunately, apart from the many locals sweeping the sand paths for the ship arrival, we had it to ourselves for a few hours! Enjoyed a swim, but the water is noticeably cooler. The island can be rented for about AU$50 a night - it has several basic accomodation bungalows and a grass airstrip for drop off - the locals believe ghosts live here and no one will stay on the island!
Colin finally turned up and again, had to be taken out to the boat for the formalities....then he realised we needed to complete another form! This was the longest clear in and out procedure we have experienced in four years - finally completed with a visit to his home and then dropping forms off to another boat that had arrived.
So, after all that we left this morning at 6am for Noumea, having decided to bypass the Loyalty Islands (passing the cruise ship an hour later).
Graeme Whichurch will be joining us in Noumea for the final passage to Brisbane.
We're hoping to have some time to do some land based touring while we are there and weather permitting, leaving via the Iles des Pins for Brisbane.