Bundy

After getting checked in yesterday, we moved to a slip very close to all the amenities. The showers are HOT and powerful. The best yet on the trip. Lunch was free as the marina does a BBQ every Friday. It was pretty basic, but we got to know some of the other yachties. Gerard did laundry and Susan napped. We had dinner here at the marina’s restaurant which was nice. My dinner was interrupted when a flying cricket hit me in the face and then landed in my food. They’re very beefy crickets and looked a bit like a gecko to me. The waitress scooped him up and took him back outside. After dinner I did a load of laundry and went to bed. It was great to sleep in a motionless boat. Susan and Gerard experienced “sea legs”, but I’ve been very lucky on this trip to have very little or none.

We took the shuttle bus into Bundaberg today and immediately took a taxi back out to the car rental place. The bus from the marina only runs a couple of times a day and only one way. Then you have to take a city bus back, which runs hardly ever. It’ll be good to have a car. Although it’s been an adventure for me driving on the left. I’ve only gone the wrong way once. The round-a-bouts are the worst. That’s where I got confused and turned down the wrong side of the street. A street with a median. Oops. Luckily, there was parking in the median and I pulled in and through to the correct side. The rental car has a big sign on both front doors advertising the rental agency, so everyone knows to look out.

Bundy is very cute. Like elsewhere, it closes down pretty early. Most of the shops were only open until noon today. We saw some signs for places open 7 days a week, but most close Saturday at noon until Monday. We had meat pies for brunch, walked the town We also purchased some essentials at the grocery: diet Coke, beer, potato chips and crumpets. Bananas are horribly expensive. The hurricane they had this year wiped out the crop. The local strawberries are expensive too, but very tasty.

We hung everything up today to dry out. Susan did several loads of wash too. We looked like riff raff with all that stuff hanging from everywhere.

Tonight we’re very excited. We’re going to the movies to see Pirates of the Caribbean II. It was playing in Noumea too, but in French. For dinner we will try the Indian place in town.

I fly out on Monday from Hervey Bay (pronounced here Harvey) It’s an airport about and hour from here, but 1/3 the price to fly. Susan and Gerard have volunteered to take a road trip down there to drop me off. In Sydney I’m having dinner with Marci & Steve. They leave for Melbourne on Tuesday and they arrive here in Bundy on Friday.

Australia

We made it to Bundy about 30 minutes ago. We’re waiting for customs, immigration and quarantine.

Yesterday was sunny and a pod of dolphins visited us. I grabbed Susan’s little camera and got some great shots. I’ll post them.

The rain started again last night and got to it’s worst as we headed in the channel here. It was raining hard enough that we could only see the next channel marker and not the one after.

The Coconut Milk Run is done. We’re here and we’re ready for the hot showers and free lunch. They have a free BBQ on Fridays! Throw another shrimp on the barbie!

Rain and the Iron Genny

Our wonderful winds have died and now we’re motoring our final way to
Australia. We should go through Curtis Channel through the Great Barrier
Reef tonight. Then it’s another 43 miles to the bouys that mark the
entrance to Bundy.

The night before last Susan and Gerard had rainy watches. Last night
it was my turn. It’s been raining since about 4:00, about 5 hours now.
It doesn’t show any sign of stopping. It’s a light rain and the
temperature has warmed significantly, so it’s not so uncomfortable.

The bioluminesence in the water last night was magical. There was a lot
in the waves we create as the bow pushes through the water. With the
engine running there is a long stream behind us too. New to me though
was a kind of bioluminesence that glowed for a few seconds after I
shined a light on them. I sat in the cockpit with my headlamp on,
turning it on and off; on and off. Each time the round circle where my
light hit the ocean lit up and drifted away as moved. One time there was
a red eyeball in the mix. Not too big and for some reason I think it was
a squid. Just a guess.

I baked bread yesterday and we’re doing our very best to eat everything
we think the Aussies will confiscate. Our fruit and veggie net is almost
bare. The meat is almost all gone. Susan says no other cruisers eat this
well, which I find hard to believe. There has to be a few anyway. When
the seas are big it’s a particular challenge to not have everything
flying around the galley, but it can be done. A few nights ago I had a
couple of bowls of salad go flying. I’m still finding dried up pieces of
shredded carrot around. A few weeks ago there was an unfortunate
incident with uncooked rice. I’m sure Susan will find it in nooks and
crannies for years to come.

As it stands now we should be pulling into Bundaberg at first light
tomorrow. Not a bad passage for such a long distance. We had two 135
mile days and one 150 mile day. It certainly makes me envy those
catamarans that can have 200 or even 300 mile days. That certainly would
make passages tolerable. My last night watch is tonight. Yee haw!

Australia

We’re still doing great on our passage to Australia. We’ve slowed down
just a little and should be in Bundy at first light on Friday (Thursday
for you).

Alphie the autopilot is fixed. When Gerard opened up the floorboards
under the bed to look at it we got quite a surprise. The boatyard had
replaced the hand bilge pump hose, but left the old one in. This crammed
everything together and made Alphie very unhappy. In addtion the arm
where the autopilot attaches to the rudder post was completely loose.
Gerard tore out the old hose, put everything back together and then
Alphie was happy.

Night watch for Gerard was pretty wet, as was it for Susan. I got lucky
and only had a few sprinkles at the beginning of my watch. Still,
everything in the cockpit is wet. The Sunbrella fabric that the cockpit
cushions and pillows are covered with dries very quickly. Gerard was
saying it’s about $12 per yard, but boy is it worth it. It’s very tough.

The sun is up and we’re rolling along. We’re eating all the meat and
veggies we can, since the Aussies will take it all. The cruising guides
say they will even take some canned meats. What’s up with that?

Flying along

We’re flying along towards Australia. The winds are still directly
behind us, pushing our wing and wing sails. At this rate the GPS tells
us we’ll be at the entrance to Bundaberg(Bundy)in just 2 more days. Our
weather reports are very favorable too. Wow, we’re finally getting our
downwind Coconut Milk Run.

Last night during my watch all hell broke loose though. Our main and
very quiet autopilot, Alphie, was driving. He’s having a little problem
turning to starboard. He had been doing OK with us catching it before
any real problem happened. Then about 10:00 last night I didn’t correct
the problem quick enough and we decided to switch to the other
autopilot, the Autohelm. In the process we got turned around, the main
got back winded and we had to motor around to get back on course. It was
a very exciting few minutes with me driving, Gerard helping me, Susan
setting the Autohelm and lots of confusion. The Autohelm is now driving
just fine, but it’s a bit loud. So, today Gerard will try to fix Alphie.

Susan’s seasickness has passed. It’s the worst she’s seen on this trip
and she even kept last night’s dinner down. The night before was a
different story. We’re thinking it’s the green beans. The other time she
got sick we had also had green beans with dinner. Needless to say, there
won’t be any more green beans served on this passage.

The haricots verts (green beans) in Noumea were great. The French pick
them small and saute them nicely. They’re on about every menu and very
tasty.

Our last night in Noumea we went, for the third time, to La Chaumiere
for dinner. Once again excellent. Gerard had tripe, I had the calamari,
and Susan had the marlin. Even though there were many items I hadn’t
tried yet, I again had the fish terrine to start. It was excellent.
Gerard was full and didn’t want dessert, but it’s included. So, Susan
and I ate ours and most of his creme brulee too. I was stuffed. It was
the first time I had that “Thanksgiving full” feeling. It was a good
send off for Noumea.

Well it looks like I’ll be to Australia in plenty of time to get to
Sydney for my August 4th flight home. I may have time to stop for a
night in Brisbane on my way too. Maybe a dive from Bundy? Marci and
Steve arrive in Bundy on August 4th, and then Kirsten comes on the 10th.
Susan’s looking forward both visits. She’s hoping to cruise up to the
Whitsunday Islands. One of our neighbors in Noumea gave her a cruising
guide to look at. It got her excited. They look amazing.

Bye Bye New Cal

We left New Caledonia around 2:30 pm yesterday. We intended to spend the
night anchored at Amedee Island at the lighthouse. However, when we got
there the conditions weren’t favorable and we headed out the pass. That
was about 24 hours ago and we’ve gone about 130 miles. So, we’ve had a
really good day. The winds are from the perfect direction and somewhat
strong. We’ve got a triple reef in the main and a reefed jib and we’re
hitting 7 knots frequently. The seas are from the south though so we get
thrown around a little. At this rate we’ll be at the entrance to the
Great Barrier Reef in 4 days from now. But as we’ve seen you can’t count
on the winds for days on end.

The seasick clock is reset and Susan and I are back at square one. Even
Gerard has had a little and he doesn’t usually. I’m doing much better
today, but I certainly can’t type too much more. It’s still cold and
we’re all bundled up on our warm clothes. The tropical South Pacific,
HAH!

Gerard is busy

This didn’t show up on the blog, so I’ll send now and add to it.

Gerard got busy yesterday and we assisted.

The annomometer(wind speed indicator) is back up and calibrated.

We got hatch parts at great expense and I fixed two hatches.

The 220v battery charger is now in a much better place(the basement for
those of you who know the boat) and out of the way.

The diesel fuel port has been replaced!!!(The smell makes me sick to my
stomach and it’s been leaking the whole time.)

And already this morning things are happening.

We went out to dinner at a place that Susan and I wanted to go to, just
because of it’s sign. It’s called Mr. Bouef. Mr. Beef. The sign is a
rotating world that has a cow in a Superman costume flying around it as
the whole thing spins. I think I have a picture to post. The food was
great.

We’re planning at this stage to check out on Friday, and head off to
Australia over the weekend. It’ll be sad to leave here, it’s so
charming. We hope to anchor the last day off an island and get on last
water adventure in.

We found a snorkel spot the other day and used our full wetsuits to
snorkel. It was comfortable enough, but I should have had my hood on
too. We saw a bunch of neat things, including the fattest sea snake yet.
I got back my pictures from the disposable underwater camera, but most
of them aren’t very good.

Today finds us busy with the boat again. Gerard did lots of electrical
stuff with the batteries and rewired the 12volt socket next to this
computer that’s been giving us some trouble. Susan worked on fixing the
leaks in our hatches. I baked cookies, went grocery shopping and picked up
some parts Gerard needed.

The grocery store is big and wonderful. It’s full of French things and
Australian things. One thing I found that’s really cool is whipping cream
that is shelf stable in a waxy box. You can keep it on the shelf until you
open it. Today I saw it in the can already to squirt out, also shelf
stable. In fact in this area the rest of the world is way ahead of the
U.S. There are many products available this way. The deli had at least a
dozen kinds of pate’s and terrines. The meat counter is very extensive.
The canned goods section is better in some ways and not in others. In
French Polynesia there were way more selection of cassoulet. Here only a
couple of brands and no big expensive jar. However, the canned veggie
section is great.

I’m glad we’re leaving, as this food will expand my waist line.

More of Noumea

Saturday a very wide catamaran became our neighbor. It was a tight fit
to say the least. Our fenders were squished and our Canadian neighbor on
the other side, Larry lent us a couple of his, which are fatter. Susan
was gone when the cat came in and I was sure she’d want to move, but she
was happy since their captain said they’d only stay overnight. They
changed their mind late in the day and we agreed to move first thing in
the morning. This only after the cat’s captain said he had a very thin
hull and was afraid our rubber fenders would puncture his boat. That’s
absolutely preposterous. Hysterical. If his boat is that thin he
shouldn’t be sailing it. Still, we moved yesterday morning. It’s a
pretty good slip, but the pier is much smaller and way more wobbly.
Susan backed the boat in so we can board from the stern ladder and avoid
the pier.

Saturday night Steve took us out to our favorite French restaurant for
dinner. This was our second time and just as good as the first. It’s
about $33 per person for a three course fixed price dinner. We’ve now
sampled 18 dishes there in our two visits and everything is excellent.
We came back to the boat and got Steve to his shuttle for the airport.
We assume he made all his connections….

Yesterday, Susan and I did a museum day. We started out at the Zoo where
the emphasis is birds. We both enjoyed them but were most impressed with
the flying foxes, i.e. bats. Big bats. They’re nocturnal but were moving
around in their cage jockeying for a better place. There were also
smaller bat that huddled all together in one tight ball in their cage.
The endemic and endangered bird is the Cagou. They’re very pretty and
have a nice headdress.

From zoo, it was on to the Tijbaou Center. It’s a Kanak cultural center
that the French made a big deal about building. It’s a big political
move to satisfy the Kanak. The structure is an amazing piece of
architecture that reminds me of the Museum of Modern Art in San
Francisco. It’s a series of huge half finished, local traditional,
thatch roofed house like structures rising 3 or 4 stories tall. The
center has some things on Kanak Culture, including modern art. We both
loved the traveling exhibit of photos of Vanuatu. It made us sorry we
missed it. It made me wish that we’d taken more trips off to the
countryside and met the locals more. Next time. I’d love to come back
here and explore more.

Today we picked up our rental car and went exploring. We trekked off to
the mining town of Thio. There isn’t much there, but it’s on the
north/east shore and we wanted to see life outside of Noumea. The land
is beautiful and during our day we thought its similarities to Hawaii,
Marin County, Scotland and the Australian Outback. The latter wasn’t a
comparison of geography, but of large stretches of uninhabited land.
Outside of Noumea the population drops and suddenly there isn’t anybody
for mile after mile. It’s about 240 miles up the coast to the tip and we
only went a short way in that direction before heading east. It drove
home the point of how big New Caledonia is.

The mines have stripped the tops off of tall mountains and left red
dirt/rock outcroppings that look like they come from Monument Valley
Utah. We learned that the mine owners now have to re-forest, but the old
ones stick out badly. Below these outcroppings are rich green forests.

We’’e now back at the boat and pooped from two days as tourists. Susan
just had her dinner: a piece of cake from a local patisserie. I probably
do something simple: open a can.

Gerard arrives tomorrow and I’ve only got a couple of weeks left on the
trip. It’s been just amazing, but I miss home and will be glad to have a
hot shower and sleep in my be everyday.

Bastille Day and beyond

The parade yesterday was completely comprised of the military, police
and fire department. The formalities to start the parade lasted longer
than the parade itself. The town we pretty much shut down for the day.
The buses were running though and I took one out to the beach. It was a
pretty ride. I walked the beach and came across a spot close to the bus
stop, but I couldn’t go inland. There were walls and barbed wire fences
and I couldn’t figure our why these people didn’t want access to the
beach. It was a coral rubble beach, but still it was nice. When there
was finally a gap that I could walk through I found myself in the
medical center for “special” people. People not right in the head.
Luckily, I just walked out past the guard without any problem.

My return trip was free thanks to a Kanak guy who gave me a ticket at
the returning bus stop. He insisted. He wouldn’t take payment. He did
let me refuse the rum he offered though. We chatted as best we could
with our different languages until the bus came. He explained on the bus
that the tickets were 30 cents cheaper in town than paying on the bus. I
still couldn’t understand why he would just give me one. He was just
being nice I guess.

We have exhausted the restaurants here in the center of town, so I
visited the rolling trucks for dinner. There are five or so right across
the street. The food is much the same from one to the other. I had
mussels with mushrooms in cream sauce.

Today we awoke to sunny skies and warmer weather. That didn’t last long.
I visited the market and bought stuff for lunch: marinated brochettes of
salmon and stuff for a salad. It was delicious.

Susan worked on painting a name on the dinghy. It’s now named “Bato.” We
got that off an placemat from the brasserie here at the marina. The mat
is illustrated with a lot of funny things. If you don’t know French you
might miss this little joke; bateau is French for boat. We really
cracked up when we saw it on the placemat.

After lunch I went out shopping and got a siphon for the boat. Getting
the diesel out of the jerry cans and into the fuel tank has been a messy
proposition. This self starting siphon should help. I then went on to a
shop that I love which has an outlet in San Francisco and used to have
one in Honolulu: L’Occitane en Provence. It’s a fancy toiletries place
and they make a lavender soap I love. Susan and I visited it yesterday
and she liked one of what she calls “French toilet water.” She didn’t
buy it, so I got it for her today.

Off to the grocery stores. I went to both to compare. The better, by
far, is Casino Supermarket. I picked up some gourmet items and ran into
Susan. She was there for a baguette and potato chips. I already had both
in my arms. The baguette was still warm. She had an empty basket, so I
filled it with my stuff.

Tonight we’re off to dinner at a nice place as a send off for Steve. His
bus comes at 9:15 to take him to the airport. Gerard arrives on Tuesday.

We’re still bundled up from the cold and one local I spoke with
yesterday said this was the first time it’s been so cold. I can’t
imagine he meant first time ever. I’ve got 4 long sleeve shirts now and
three long pants, so I’m pretty comfortable. Susan and I split a package
of six socks too.

Tomorrow will be museum/zoo day. We’ve also got a rental car reserved
for Monday for a week so we can explore a little more.

Snorkeling and Diving

We took Honu out to the small island just three miles away, Ilot Maitre. It’s a lovely little island with a reef mostly all around it. We had some trouble getting the anchor to set, but when we did it really dug in. I jumped in first as Susan and Steve blew up the dinghy. It was a BIG SHOCK. Freezing water. I mean cold. I had my shortie wet suit on and the water was cold. I snorkeled for 10 minutes or less and then went back to the boat to put on more stuff. I ended up trying Susan’s newly purchased hood and two layers of wet suits, using Craig’s and mine. It was tolerable as long as I kept moving and generating heat. The snorkeling was amazing and I saw way too many new fish to describe. The coral is nice, but absent are the fan and soft corals I expected. The water is too cold.

Back at Port Moselle we docked and I ran off to the dive shop to buy a full wet suit. I need it just to snorkel. They had them for only $115 or so. I bought a hood and a disposible underwater camera too. I thought I was all ready for our dive yesterday. Ha.

We arose very early yesterday and got ourselves to the dive boat at 7:15. Luckily, it leaves right from the marina. The boat made another stop and the dock of the defunct Club Med to pick up more passengers. There were about 10 of us that went out to Amedee Lighthouse for the dive. The boat docked out there, then we went to the dive shop there, got equipment and headed out. The dive guys were great and told Susan and I that we needed more, so the lent us (free!) another layer for our toros. This worked out well for the most part.

The first dive was outside the reef and there was a strong surge and later in the dive a strong current. We saw many new things, but it was difficult to linger with the current pulling at you. However, we did see several sharks, some very up-close as they slept under ledges and in holes. The HUGE Napoleon fish was a highlight.

We went back to the island and had 2+ hours to relax and eat our picnic lunch that Susan and I had picked up from an Algerian deli.

The second dive was inside the reef and there were a lot more fish. We were able to slow down and look at things better. We saw many, many new fish. Big schools. The highlight of this dive was when the dive master picked up a sea snake and handed it to me. These snakes are deadly venimous, but I took it anyway. This wasn’t the first one I’d seen handled and none of them even ever turned around to strike. I handed it to Susan, who swore she’d never, ever touch one. She took it. I really hope that picture turns out. Apparently, bites are extremely rare, with one species more aggressive and deadly. This was one of the “good guys.”

We went back to the island to get rid of the gear and relax a little while before returning. On the way out we saw several different sea snakes sleeping under the dock. They’re very pretty and you should read Susan’s column this week for all the dirt.

Snorkeling and Diving

We took Honu out to the small island just three miles away, Ilot Maitre. It’s a lovely little island with a reef mostly all around it. We had some trouble getting the anchor to set, but when we did it really dug in. I jumped in first as Susan and Steve blew up the dinghy. It was a BIG SHOCK. Freezing water. I mean cold. I had my shortie wet suit on and the water was cold. I snorkeled for 10 minutes or less and then went back to the boat to put on more stuff. I ended up trying Susan’s newly purchased hood and two layers of wet suits, using Craig’s and mine. It was tolerable as long as I kept moving and generating heat. The snorkeling was amazing and I saw way too many new fish to describe. The coral is nice, but absent are the fan and soft corals I expected. The water is too cold.

Back at Port Moselle we docked and I ran off to the dive shop to buy a full wet suit. I need it just to snorkel. They had them for only $115 or so. I bought a hood and a disposible underwater camera too. I thought I was all ready for our dive yesterday. Ha.

We arose very early yesterday and got ourselves to the dive boat at 7:15. Luckily, it leaves right from the marina. The boat made another stop and the dock of the defunct Club Med to pick up more passengers. There were about 10 of us that went out to Amedee Lighthouse for the dive. The boat docked out there, then we went to the dive shop there, got equipment and headed out. The dive guys were great and told Susan and I that we needed more, so the lent us (free!) another layer for our toros. This worked out well for the most part.

The first dive was outside the reef and there was a strong surge and later in the dive a strong current. We saw many new things, but it was difficult to linger with the current pulling at you. However, we did see several sharks, some very up-close as they slept under ledges and in holes. The HUGE Napoleon fish was a highlight.

We went back to the island and had 2+ hours to relax and eat our picnic lunch that Susan and I had picked up from an Algerian deli.

The second dive was inside the reef and there were a lot more fish. We were able to slow down and look at things better. We saw many, many new fish. Big schools. The highlight of this dive was when the dive master picked up a sea snake and handed it to me. These snakes are deadly venimous, but I took it anyway. This wasn’t the first one I’d seen handled and none of them even ever turned around to strike. I handed it to Susan, who swore she’d never, ever touch one. She took it. I really hope that picture turns out. Apparently, bites are extremely rare, with one species more aggressive and deadly. This was one of the “good guys.”

We went back to the island to get rid of the gear and relax a little while before returning. On the way out we saw several different sea snakes sleeping under the dock. They’re very pretty and you should read Susan’s column this week for all the dirt.

Lovely Noumea

Noumea is lovely, if a bit cool. Well, it’s cool too, but also the temperature is low. We’ve gone off and bought new clothes. I tried to find stuff that I could wear in Honolulu too. I got two pairs of long pants that are very light, but certainly help. I’m wearing a new long sleeve t-shirt.Now that the city is open, it’s easy to see why they call it the Paris of the Pacific. Most everyone is very friendly. You don’t get the smiles and “Bula” greeting like we did in Suva, but the shop keepers are very gracious. They do their best to understand my French and switch into English if they know it. I can generally make myself understood if in horrible French.

Susan went off this morning and got stuff for the boat, including a cruising guide for New Caledonia and a book about sea snakes. We see them going in and out of a patch of coral in the marina. They’re fantastic and venomous. They have a venom that is worse than a cobra’s. Luckily, they don’t bite without provocation. Well, rarely anyway.

We’re planning a day trip, in Honu, out tomorrow to an island that is 3 miles away for some snorkeling. We’ll come back to the slip afterward. On Wednesday we’ll go on a dive boat for an all day adventure. I’ll be renting a wetsuit as my shortie probably won’t be enough. All the pictures of people diving here have them in full suits with hoods on. So, the water isn’t very warm. All the books show such wonderful sea life though. I’m excited to get in the water.

That’s about it, as this computer is being weird and I can’t see what I’m typing……

Noumea

I’m back on the boat with a keyboard I know. It’s so confusing when
several keys have been moved. It wasn’t just the punctuation, some of
the letters too.

Noumea is wonderful. It’s closed down, because it’s Sunday. The Chinese
stores are open, but that’s about it. McDonalds is very busy too. The
city is very pretty and modern. It’s about 1/3 the size of Suva, but
much more developed.

We got here about 2pm yesterday and were checked in about 5pm. The
marina is gorgeous. It comes with hot showers!!!!!! Can you tell I’m
excited about that. I took a very long one this morning. As a welcome
the marina also gives you a round of drinks at the restaurant/bar. That
was really nice. After our free drinks we went in search of someplace to
eat. The guidebook says there are 130 places. None were open. We found a
couple of unattractive places after walking for an hour. We decided to
go back to the marina and eat there. We were seated and later told that
the chef doesn’t come on until 7:00 pm. It was 6:30 and we’d been there
a while already. We knew that other than McDonalds we wouldn’t find
anything else open, so we ordered and waited.

Steve and I had the 3 meat plate. It had venison, kangaroo and ostrich
on it, with your choice of sauce and sides. It was wonderful. All three
meats were grilled to perfection and very tasty. Susan had soup and
salad and was very satisfied.

This morning Steve went to mass and Susan and I went off shopping. We
needed some warmer clothes. It’s very cool here: 66 degrees and lower.
We went into about 2 dozen shops in Chinatown and found some things. I
got a pair of long pants and Susan got two pairs. I still need another
long sleeve shirt, but I’ll wait until tomorrow when all the shops are
open. I didn’t find anything today.

We shopped at the market too. It’s right next to the marina and has a
fresh fish market, fresh veggie market, prepared foods, handicrafts and
souvenirs. We bought a bunch of stuff and brought it back to the boat
for lunch. We had smoked salmon tarte, tuna brioche gratin (tuna melt),
spring and summer rolls, and some very excellent poisson cru. We love
the food here!

We love Noumea. We’re probably rent the slip for two weeks and go out
for marine adventures on day trips. Then it’s off to Australia.

Motoring to New Caledonia

During my watch last night the winds died and I cranked up the engine.
It’s been going ever since. We’re making better time with it and at the
current rate will get there tomorrow.

New Caledonia is held firmly in the grip of the French government. It’s
very sad how the native Kanaks have been treated over the years. They’ve
been having repeated non-violent uprisings, striving for independance
only to have the rug pulled out from under them time and time again. The
story of this in our guidebook is really awful. The French have been
terribly underhanded, sneaky and downright mean about the whole thing.
New Caledonia has a big stock of minerals, high grade nickel being the
primary one. Nickel accounts for 89% of exports. It’s a great resource
for France and they won’t let it go. Colonialism at it’s worst. It’s as
bad as Tibet and Taiwan.

New Caledonia looks like it should be a snorkel and dive paradise,
although as cool as it is we’re having trouble imagining donning our
bathing suits. We don’t have much information on the marine life. We
hope to find a guidebook when we get there.

I spoke by phone the other day with the boys in Kauai for the Hawaii-50
weekend. It sounds like a great time was being had by all. Happy 50th
Birthday to those guys.

Still passaging

We’re still on our way to New Caledonia. Today the winds have shifted
again and we’re beating our way along. It’s not too bad, but the
occasional brick wall sound, as waves hit the boat, are quite loud.

We’ve spent the day listening and reading. Steve is the reader. Susan
and I spent time with our iPods. I finished up “Brave New World.” It’s
quite good and read by Michael York. He did a fine job. It’s a
disturbing book and I’ve read it before.

Not much to tell. We’ll most likely be pulling into Noumea on Sunday.

Yucky weather

Like I said last time: famous last words.

About 3:00 A.M. today the winds started to shift around to the west,
which is where we want to go. Last night’s watches weren’t fun for any
of us. Steve got soaked in a downpour and Susan had some pretty rough
waves. I guess mine was the best with just some wind shifts at the end
of my time. Today we’ve spent tacking back and forth slowing making some
forward progress. The winds are starting to shift again and we’re
slowly being able to turn back on course.

It’s been cool and cloudy with short squalls of rain. So, we’re dressed
up in the bright yellow foul weather gear that reminds me of what I
walked to school in on rainy days when I was in the first grade. Down
below the temperature is even a tad cool. It’s the kind of day that
you’d rent a movie and stay home all day.

So, we’ve got at least a couple of more days until we reach Noumea,
depending on what happens next.

Fiji tidbits

Here’s some unrelated stuff about Fiji I haven’t yet written about:

Fiji got their independance from Brittain in 1970. Betty, HRH Queen
Elizabeth II is still on the back of all demoninations of Fijian
dollars.

Greeting us outside of Suva as we arrived last week was a pod of pygmy
killer whales. Bigger than dolphins, they romped in the surf a ways off
the boat. We hoped that they would come over and bow ride, but they
didn’t.

Where’s the beef? It’s very scarce in the grocery stores I’ve been in
all across the South Pacific. I was able to buy some frozen steaks at
one place, but most didn’t have beef.

Fiji’s grocery stores were much of what we’ve seen elsewhere. There were
tons of tins of corned beef, corned mutton, and mackerel. Where the
stores differed was the selection of Indian food and spices. The produce
in Fiji was also several grades better than elsewhere. The farmer’s
market was immense. It had just about anything you could want and it all
looked fresh.

Our last night in Suva, we went out to eat at Tikos. It’s a floating
restaurant and very nice. We started out with Fiji’s version of
marinated fish. It was walu in coconut milk with some sliced veggies.
Very good. It was the first time, this dish that has been everywhere
we’ve been, that the fish wasn’t tuna. Our waitress said, “oh no, we use
tuna for sushi.” I had surf and turf which was good. Susan had a filet
mignon and Steve some fresh whole fish. We splurged and had dessert too.
One each. We were trying to use up our Fijian dollars; we were
successful.

Leaving Viti Levu (Suva’s island) took us more than all day. It’s
something about sailing that I never knew until I started doing it. You
leave a place and still you go by it all day and into the night if it’s
of any size. Viti Levu seems bigger than Oahu and we spent all day
and then some watching it go by.

We’re now having our coconut milk run winds and waves. The winds are
perfect and the waves have died down. This is the ride we had expected,
but so far have rarely seen. The weather reports some shifting winds
over the next day and then back to trade winds. So, our run to New
Caledonia should be quick one. Famous last words.

Breads of the South Pacific

Although I can’t make any conclusions, there must be some insight into
the cultures of the south pacific by their breads.

In French Polynesia the predominate bread was he baguette. They were
cheap, very cheap and in every store and gas station. They were,
however, more like the Safeway style of baguette than a true French
version. The crust was lighter than the ones I had in France and they
turned soft quickly in the humidity. The crumb was very light and fluffy
without a lot of substance to it.

In Aitutaki we were told to go to a bakery up on the hill above town for
freshly baked bread. The bread was baked in loaves that were made of
fingers. You ordered by the number of fingers you wanted. A whole loaf
was 5 fingers. They were baking it right in front of us in a clay oven
with a wood fire. The loaves were given to us still warm. The crumb was
light and fluffy without much of a yeast taste. The wood fire gave them
a distinct taste.

In Tonga the predominant bread was a light fluffy square loaf. It was
sold everywhere un-sliced. The special brown bread had perhaps 10% whole
wheat flour. These didn’t keep well and turned moldy after just a couple
of days. However, there was another bakery in town run by an Austrian.
His baguettes were the real thing: yeasty, with a very crunchy crust;
perfectly baked, not quite as dark as the French make them. They kept
for days on the boat and kept their crust well. The crumb was denser
than the ones in French Polynesia. My favorite bread so far.

Fiji had several outlets of “Hot Bread Kitchen” in town. The smell of
baking bread wafted through the air as you walked by them. Their version
of bread is a shorter, white, fluffy bread with a sweeter taste. Not
quite as sweet as the Hawaiian bread, but still sweet. The crumb is
denser than other white fluffy breads we’ve sampled, but not dense
enough to make good sandwich bread.

We’re making good time out of Fiji. The wind is good and the seas a
little rough. If the winds keep up we’ll be in New Caledonia in four
days. That would be great.