To Sea Again

Tue 29 Sep 2009 04:48
Position, 20.43S 166.25E
John writes:
After watching the thrilling Aussie Rules grand final at the Anchor Inn at Port Vila we had a quiet night on the sea wall before leaving at first light for the 200 mile trip to Ouvea.That is, after Sue ran up to the supermarket to buy the weekend Australian and Sydney Morning Herald that go on sale at 6am!
The first 12 hours were pretty uncomfortable with a beam wind of 20kts giving us very rolly conditions. Late in the afternoon one of our fishing reels started sceaming and we were horrified to see that we had hooked a very large marlin which was dancing across the water and taking out masses of line. One and a half hours later we had recovered our line and the huge and beautiful fish was close to the boat. At this point we realised that it far too large to get into the boat, so as we were preparing to cut it free, it gave a lunge and broke the line. I estimate that it was at least 2m long. Ray and I both have very sore arms and shoulders.
We arrived at the Ouvea Atoll  in the Loyalty Islands in eastern New Caledonia, mid morning on Monday. The lagoon provides protection from the SE trades and the turquoise water colour contrasting with the white sand beach and the clear sky are what most people dream of when they think of Pacific islands. Anchored in 8m we can clearly see the sandy bottom. A fine white sandy beach stretches away into the distance and is deserted. Fortunately the Island Cruising Association arranged and paid for immigration, customs and quarantine to fly out and clear us in so we can now go directly from here to the Isle of Pines before going on to Noumea. Until very recently the Loyalties hd been off limits to visiting boats due to the Swine Flu epidemic. We were a little shocked when the quarantine officer arrived to inspect what we had on board, but fortunately Ray, Helen and Sue had had the foresight to squirrel away some of the 15 days worth of fruit and veg we had bought at the wonderful market in Port Vila.
We had planned to take the Selene back to New Zealand early in November. However, we are now thinking that we will take it to Brisbane late in October. We can then cruise the Barrier Reef next winter  in company with our friends on Harmonie and then, maybe, go across to Dawin and join the rally to Indonesia and on to Malaysia and Thailand. Plenty of options!