On our last day in Mare – Friday the 3rd of October – we decided to hitchhike back to town one more time. We had one important mission to accomplish and that was to dispose of the garbage that has been accumulating on board since we left Port Villa, Vanuatu – 3.5 weeks ago. When you are at sea you can dispose of all food and paper, plus glass bottles and tin cans. You are never supposed to throw any plastics at sea, and it is amazing how much of that stuff starts to accumulate on the boat – plastic food wrapping (stinky from fish or meat), plastic bottles, milk and juice containers, Styrofoam egg cartons, etc. In the other Loyalty Islands (Lifou and Ouvea) – the towns would not accept any garbage from sailors. It is just too expensive for them to dispose of it. In Mare, however, the tiny little town was just filled with large garbage dumpsters and there was no problem with us dropping it off there.
It says a lot about life on a boat when you can get a great deal of pleasure from simply throwing away some old stinky garbage bags – but it’s true. We felt great about it. The only problem was trying to mask the embarrassing smell from leaking out of the bag, stuffed in a large backpack, as Mark held it on his lap during our brief car ride to town. The local who picked us up probably just assumed that we smelled like all other sailors he had met.
After disposing of the garbage, we walked over to the marketplace and found that there was a great deal of activity there. Lots of people, a live band, and a huge barbeque grill set up. It was a real party. It turns out that there is a local high school and on Fridays (or at least this Friday) they had come to town to make and sell food to one and all. Some of the teachers had formed a band and they were singing a variety of French and English songs. They were excellent. Besides grilling fish and chicken, the kids and their profs were making French fries and selling pastries. We tasted a little of everything and then loaded ourselves down with fresh tomatoes and went back to the boat to prepare for the next day’s passage.
We left Mare on Saturday morning at 5:45 a.m. It is a 70 mile passage from Mare to the Passe de Bumbu at Ile des Pines and we wanted to time the trip so that we would arrive at the pass right at low tide which was going to be at 4:20 p.m. The currents going through the passes here are very strong and it is best to time your entrances for the slack water that occurs at either high or low tide. It turned out to be a terrifically fast and easy passage – the wind was 20 knots right on the beam and we were flying along at 8 to 9 knots. We were going so fast, in fact, that we had to reduce sail drastically to slow down – otherwise we would have arrived at the pass way too early. As it turned out we reached the pass at 2:30, almost two hours before low, but it was clear that we could enter without any problem.
So here we sit in Baie de Ouameo in the famous Ile des Pines of New Caledonia. We are the only boat in this anchorage and we have not left the boat all day. As a matter of fact, it ended up being another “Mark fixes another critical system” day, as the first thing we noticed when we arrived was that the toilet in the aft head was not working. The seawater flush pump failed so the head could not be flushed. Fortunately, we had a replacement pump on board. The replacement pump would not fit without some alteration to both the electrical and plumbing connections, so it took longer than it might have, but now the head works as good ever. Life is good.