New Caledonia - The Isle of Pines

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sun 28 Sep 2008 07:33
We have been lying here in L'Isle des Pins for about a week.  The island is said to be the jewel in New Caledonia's crown and it lives up to its reputation with white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and interesting flora, particularly the pines.  We are moving south now, away from the tropics and off the southern tip of the big island of New Caledonia lies this small island with huge pine trees like pipe cleaners rising to a hundred feet (30 metres) and dwarfing the surrounding palms.  It used to be a French penal colony.
We had an enjoyable time and some success in the marina at Noumea.  Our electric bilge pumps are now working, as are the two shower tray extract pumps, one of which acts as a back-up to the bilge pumps.  Success came at considerable cost and after much frustration but it is a great relief to have these things working.  The only remaining defective pump is the manual one - still an unexplained mystery.  Subsequently I have managed at long last to track down the leak (there is little excuse, I should have found it earlier) and effected a temporary repair.  It can be put right properly when the boat is next hauled out. 
We waited for quiet weather, left the marina, fuelled up and "sailed" for the Isle of Pines about seventy miles to the south-east.  We motored into a light head wind most of the way and stopped off the first night at a most attractive anchorage on the mainland.  We found Kuto Baie on L'Isle des Pins about 1530 on our second day and after a good cup of tea were in time to take a couple of beers ashore and join in the tail end of a barbecue on the beach.  It was good once again to be re-acquainted with old friends who hurried down to help us get ashore through the mild surf.  We have had another successful barbecue since then, a most enjoyable celebration meal in the smart restaurant on the beach and some good food at reasonable cost in the nearby cafe.  There are two small shops for provisions within walking distance and we have planned to hire a car for half a day to get a good look at the rest of the island.
We shall head back towards Noumea later in the week.  There is no hurry but we want to be ready to clear out and sail for New Zealand by about the middle of the month.