We have been in New Caledonia for a bit over a week now, still at the dock in Noumea. Our engine repair is done â€“ hopefully that wonâ€™t happen again and we are just waiting for the right weather conditions to head up to Vanuatu â€“ a two day (and two night) sail from here. The weather has been cloudy and cool the past few days, but the limiting factor is the marine forecast which predicts strong winds (35 knots!) and big seas between here and Vanuatu for the next few days. We think we should be able to depart on Friday once the winds blow themselves out and the seas calm a bit.
We are meeting some new sailorsâ€“ but most people are not heading up to Vanuatu right now. Lots of French boats on the dock, but also several from Australia and New Zealand. Also one from Nova Scotia, one from Sweden, one from Switzerland. The New Caledonians apparently like Americans because of the positive impact they had here during WWII. There is a memorial across the street from the marina with a tribute to the U.S.A. Coincidentally, the memorial is just across the street from a McDonalds which seems somewhat fitting. The city here is a mix of races and cultures â€“ elegant, slim, well dressed white French people driving fancy cars, or walking their little dogs, young men with dreadlocks and Bob Marley t-shirts smoking marijuana and just hanging out, chubby Kanaks (the indigenous population of dark skinned Melanesians) with the women all wearing loose, cotton Mother Hubbard dresses, and tourists wearing shorts and gaudy shirts. Then, of course there are the sailors, most of them middle-aged or older â€“ wearing worn cotton shirts and shorts and grubby sandals. The city is kind of decrepit, with some old French style architecture built 100 years ago, but never well maintained. There is a fancy part of town with a lovely boardwalk and lots of very chic restaurants that also has lovely beaches and is filled with windsurfers and walkers. Right near the marina is a terrific fruit and vegetable and seafood market which makes shopping quite easy.
So, we are just basically hanging out â€“ Mark is working on his research and I have lots to read and plenty to do, but we are feeling anxious to get up to Vanuatu which is much more exotic and interesting.
Here are a few photos from Brisbane, which we visited the day before we left Australia, plus a few of our trip to New Caledonia: