New Caledonia - Noumea
We left Port Villa on Saturday 15th and had a really good sail towards Noumea for most of the first day, but in late afternoon the wind dropped and we had to start motor-sailing. We had a brief period in day 2, when we were able to turn the engine off, but then the wind dropped again and during Sunday night the wind turned to the South and we had to motor into fairly light head winds.
As we approached the bottom of Noumea the wind turned to the West and was on our nose. We passed through the reefs in the lagoon round New Caledonia in the dark, which was a bit scary, but our chart plotter was spot on, so there wasn’t any problem. We got into the marina in Noumea by 10.30am and cleared in to customs etc. without any problems. Things are pretty relaxed here in New Caledonia, which is just as well as we had really stocked up on Malt Whiskey, wine etc. in the duty free in Vanuatu. It was just as we remembered it from 2010 and we now have a whiskey supply to see us through to Langkawi in Malaysia in late 2019.
It is much cooler here than in Vanuatu, with a drop of 2.5 deg C in water temperature (24 deg C) and the air temperature probably at least 5 deg C less. We had a pretty good celebration last night with a bottle of Lindauer Special Reserve sparkling wine from NZ and some Lagavulin, courtesy of Graeme & Natalie. We still have a couple of bottles of the Lindauer left for Australia. We shouldn’t need to buy any spirits, wine or beer here in New Caledonia, as planned, which is just as well as it is pretty expensive.
We are surprised at how poor and expensive the mobile phone service is in New Caledonia. In most of the other French overseas territories they have very good 3G/4G service from Digicel and Vodafone etc., but in New Cal there is only the state Post Office telecommunications and it is very poor. A prepaid SIM costs £45, which includes only £20 credit. For data you can only pay for either 1 hour or 24 hours service, any more than this takes 2 weeks to organise and we couldn’t get a cost (mainly due to our limited French). We will have to accept limited communication for the next month.
The sun is shining and we are now off to explore!