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New Caledonia 2009

Good waves for all in New Cal

This was Jayden’s first experience of island life as a crawler and a walker and he got right into splashing around in the warm shallow waters. New Caledonia has the worlds longest barrier reef after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and much of the water is protected marine reserve. We often saw schools of huge fish circle the boat in the morning ready to grab any food scraps we through overboard. Dolphins, turtles and dugongs were all regular visitors, and welcome entertainment for the children.

Travis joined us as we sailed to the beautiful Bay du Prony and Isle of Pines, and Gary and Hayden came on board for some time surfing and kiting on the islets and reefs close to Noumea. Noumea is full of young French people; couples, singles and families, who are living on boats. The rent is so high in town that buying a boat to live on is a more affordable option for many. Often marinas in towns and cities are more like parking places for peoples boats, but in Noumea they are full of life and social activity, and liveaboard folk. Though how seaworthy some of these craft are is questionable as several have not left their berth for years!

The ocean crossing to Cairns, Australia was a pleasant and calm one, and Gary joined us for the trip. Dylan had his 5th birthday at sea and we celebrated by flying paper aeroplanes, letting off party poppers and making cake. The Pacific Ocean is very very deep (a couple of thousand metres in most parts and up to 10,000 metres in the trenches), and most of the time there is not much to see - an occasional bird or flying fish being the notable event of the day. But when we passed the Chesterfield Reefs we were in for a treat. These reefs lie a few hundred miles away from either New Caledonia or Australia and are around a hundred miles long. They are home to thousands of fish and birds. We were joined by over 100 seabirds of all kinds - frigates, terns, petrels, giant blue beaked boobys, noddys; all flying and swooping and calling beside us. They stayed beside Moet all day and were there when we awoke the next morning. For 2 whole days we travelled in company. It was glorious to sit on deck in the sun, reading a book, hearing the gentle sound of the ocean under us and the call of wild birds all around. And in the water were a huge school of travelling tunafish, leaping alongside. We were quite a parade, us with our 2 jibs flying like giant white wings, and the hundreds of fish and birds all around. We really tried hard to catch a tuna but I think they knew our plans. Besides, it would somehow have seemed wrong to travel so long together and then eat one of our companions....

On the ocean, approaching the coast and reefs of Australia... and an overnight visit from a booby