Passage from Luganville, Santos to Prony Bay, New Caledonia via Lifou

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Fri 31 Oct 2014 23:07

Position           22:22.91S 166:54.82E

Date                1115 (UTC +11) Saturday 18 October 2014


Distance run – 436nm over the ground, 434nm through the water

Time from Luganville, Santos, Vanuatu – 2 day 23hrs


Not I am afraid the most clear of charts as it is cluttered by our Vanuatu waypoints. The islands of Vanuatu shown are Anatom at the lower right, where we arrived in Vanuatu from Fiji, to Santo at the top.  The purple line, what you can see of it, is our track sailed through the islands from south to north.  Our destination for this passage, New Caledonia, is at the bottom and our course was more or less due south until the island of Lifou and then with a little more east to the Passe Goro into the Havannah Channel




Leaving the mooring off the Ratua Island Resort at 0730 we motor and sailed around the island of Aore to anchor off Luganville, about 11nm, at 0900 in order to check out with Customs and Immigration.  I am delighted to say that there was a most noticeable difference in boat speed following the comprehensive hull clean.  I have cleaned the hill many times before but this I think was the most noticeable difference; it was very mucky probably enhanced by the time spent in Vuda Marina, Fiji – a nutrient rich environment!


Luganville was made much busier by the presence of the Celebration Century and its legion of enthusiastic ‘cruisers’ all being bombarded by the local population wishing to sell them something.


A grey old day in Luganville, as we leave.  The Celebration Century taking up the wharf.


We left Luganville with a good forecast at 1230 on Wednesday, the last World ARC boat out of Vanuatu.  The trip took an hour under 3 days for the 436nm and we sailed almost the whole trip at somewhere between 40 and 60 degrees to the wind mostly at a very good speed in "Robust" conditions - 2 to 3 reefs in everything and still managing 7 to 8 knots.


We passed the island of Lifou in rain and wind squalls after two days and could have broken the journey there however the weather window was closing with the forecast if we delayed of the wind veering round to put it on the nose we pressed on.  Sailing out of the wind, and rain, shadow of Lifou speed picked up again and we had to make great efforts overnight to slow down in order to arrive at the reef surrounding the south east end of New Caledonia in daylight.  Sailing slowly in a good wind is really very difficult as holding the boat back creates interesting handling problems all of its own.


Arriving at the Passe Goro an hour after dawn we went from being on a close reach to a dead run and sailed wing on wing on flat water which made a leisurely change.



Another distinct change was the presence of navigation marks, something that we have not really seen since we last left an outpost of the French Empire.


The Goro light


The chart and radar overlay for the Passe Goro showing the Racon beacon – Morse letter G

The speed of 3.8 knots indicative of a dead run in light winds against half a knot of current


AS we could not clear into New Caledonia at Noumea until Monday morning we were able to tuck ourselves into a cove in the huge and beautiful Baie Prony for a recovery


We shared the mooring field in Baie Majic with one other boat.  Excellent moorings provided by we know not who. A tranquil setting in which to recover from the passage.