Moce (goodbye) and bienvenue (welcome)
Bill and Caroline
Wed 16 Oct 2013 21:04
Leaving for the next leg of the journey, the final island destination of the Pacific and a final farewell to the beautiful, friendly and welcoming islands of Fiji with its warm spring saunas, Kava pounding and stunning scenery. Also, a glimpse of Gavin the gecko. He's still with us.
The 6 day passage to New Caledonia started with perfect sailing conditions, force 4-5 winds, sun and relatively flat seas and a good run of 180+ miles for noon to noon. Sunsets didn't provide the 'green flash' experience but were beautiful none the less.
Night time sailing was lit by a waxing moon. The inevitable discussions about watch systems were undertaken, again. The need for sleep (but not on watch) is rather important so an initial 3 hour watch through the islands was implemented, then a 6 hour watch (too long for some) and eventually a 4 hour watch - not too long and not too short. The jury is still out however on the perfect system. The fair winds reduced, the spinnaker was deployed and boat speeds of an unimpressive 3 knots followed for a day or so, with a less impressive 120 miles run. There was time however to catch up on a bit of cleaning and polishing. Time also to evaluate provisions and stowage before entering New Caledonia where it was reported that the bio security were fearsomely draconian and all fresh produce, eggs, animal and vegetable products would be confiscated. Food identified 'at risk' was prioritised for eating and Bill rose to the challenge. As it happened the impressive (excessive) consumption wasn't required and the lovely bio security man was kind, reassuring us that the small amount of food we had left could be eaten on board today. A little too late for the 8 egg omelette feat that had already been accomplished by someone.
But back to the trip ….and the calm before the squalls…. The rest of the journey was not just plain sailing. The squalls arrived, the winds increased to force 6, 7 and 8, the sea became much less inviting…..sails reduced… and reduced again. Finally land (and it is easy to see why the island is named New Caledonia) was sighted despited the poor visibility of the cloudy gloom and a welcome overnight stop with a chance to sleep well.