Tue 23 Sep 2008 05:00
Tuesday 23rd September
Position: 22:16.69S 166:26.41E
Port Moselle Marina, Noumea, New Caledonia
Hope that the blog map puts me on the water, because this ancient chart that I am using places my co-ordinates in the town square, about half a mile away. That is a big error, imagine it on your Tom Toms! Fortunately I arrived in good visibility, so I could see that all the buoys were in the 'wrong' place. Even so it is very interesting how we make decisions (or not!!) when confronted with conflicting pieces of information. I generally find GPS very reliable, and bouys out here in the remote Pacific Islands are frequently not where they are supposed to be. But this is part of France, and one thing the French are good at is putting their buoys in the right place. Even so it wasn't until I found a second buoy in the 'wrong' place that I began to suspect the GPS. Fortunately, no harm done!
The Marina and City is very French indeed, even the sweet sewage smell of the water is very reminiscent of several Brittany Ports! There are a large number of Caucasians living here, and making a very good living, apparently all the money is from copper mining. So there are posh suburbs, and at night the city is left to the inhabitants of the marina, and the itinerant Kanack Indians. Mostly the Indians remain in their villages scattered up and down this enormous Island, living much as they have done for the last few hundred years. But of course many come to try to make their fortunes in the Big City. Sadly very few appear to suceed, and the town is littered with the homeless and their empty beer cans. It is not a pleasant environment after dark, and curiously I feel more threatened in this highly developed City than anywhere else that I have been on this trip, South America included.
There are many lovely Islands to explore here, but the scale of things is big, and to get anywhere nice involves a long sail back into the wind. Time is now running out, so I am staying put, waiting for the first good weather window for my passage on to Oz. On the way out I will try to stop by the Phare Amedee: the tallest steel lighthouse in the World, on a small island in the coral 20 Km offshore: You know how we boys are interested in tall things like that.