New Caledonia, Nothing Like Old Caledonia

Day 62, 8.12.2018 , Noumea, New Caledonia

We arrived in Noumea yesterday evening and I’m told the port entry came close to being abandoned due to high winds. H and I scuttled ashore intending to have a night in a hotel and as it was going to be a suite with a kitchen we bought a few things in a supermarket near the port. The supermarket called a taxi for us as taxis are like hen’s teeth in Noumea but we think our taxi may have got hijacked by fellow passengers as it never turned up.

H eventually managed to blag us a ride from a man from Marseilles and his Filipina wife who just happened to be driving past. Nice people. The useless hotel which will remain nameless (it was Le Stanley) made a complete botch of H’s booking and even though the room we had tried to book was empty and it was late in the evening, they couldn’t bring themselves to let it go for the same rate they were advertising on several websites. The price they were offering was even mysteriously going up by about 100 francs every 20 minutes while H yelled at them. We cut our losses after about an hour of this so we could salvage some of the evening and got a taxi to the Ramada. We got a nice suite on the 14th floor with a huge balcony and a view over the bay. The reception guy shamelessly wanted a good write up on Tripadvisor but that was OK.

In the morning we went to yet another market that was selling fish, veggies and tourist stuff. The difference here is that everything is very expensive. Noumea could easily pass for the south of France and it looks quite prosperous but I’m not sure why that makes it expensive. It can’t do good things for the tourist industry. Maybe it’s just Noumea. The island is about 300km long and there are probably original peoples out there in the inaccessible parts that still eat people. Eating people is wrong of course, but it will be cheaper than eating in a Noumea restaurant.

Around 10:30 we had a RIB water taxi “Green Dog” booked to take the two of us snorkelling on some tiny islands about 15km out on the reef to the west of Noumea. I was so convinced they would cancel due to the sea-state that I didn’t even bother changing. All the boat trips, except ours, were cancelled and I got a good soaking on the way to the islets of Laregnere and Signal. We spent most of the time airborne between wave-crests, travelling at over 18 knots.

These were nice deserted tropical islands. Apart from a few campers that had been dropped off earlier we had the islands to ourselves. There was good snorkelling with green turtles. The turtles were too shy and fast to be photographed properly and visibility in the water was not the best because of the wind. I took a walk all the way around Signal Island. The name of the island comes from an old whitewashed stone marker which was put there to guide ships passing through the barrier reef. I nearly stepped on a black and white Sea Krait on the way. This is a highly poisonous, but friendly, sea snake. They don’t move so fast on land. The French call them Le Tricot Rayé (“stripey sweaters”).

Even though it was a cloudy day we both got cooked in the sun.


Day 63, 9.12.2018 , Noumea, New Caledonia

We mostly stayed on board today as the weather was not so special. I tried to spend our remaining Pacific Francs but all shops were closed in the afternoon except for one petrol station.The only stuff worth buying in the petrol station were some TimTams and tins of nuts and I didn’t get much before the money ran out.

For those not familiar with TimTams, they are an Australian chocolate-covered biscuit. The best way to eat them is to nibble off opposite corners and suck hot tea through and then eat it fast before it completely dissolves.  My personal variant is to suck a cold drink, like rum, and then you get a bit more time to think about whether or not this is a sensible way to eat a cookie.

We sailed out of port at 18:00.

Singing too-ral-li, oo-ral-li, addity,
Singing too-ral-li, oo-ral-li, ay,
Singing too-ral-li, oo-ral-li, addity,
And we’re bound for Botany Bay.


Day 64, 10.12.2018 , Coral Sea

Sea day. In the evening we were invited to a nice gathering on the Captain’s balcony for officers  leaving the ship in Sydney.  A small pig was sacrificed and roasted for the occasion.


Day 65, 11.12.2018 , Coral Sea

Sea day. Approaching southeast Australia. A day of packing up our stuff and regretting buying so many tropical shirts en-route as we might have an airline baggage allowance problem.