Blog Post 30 by Jon Sanders: New Caledonia and drug busts
Noumea, New Caledonia: a long island that, kinda, lies southeast to northwest. 30 N Miles wide and 220 miles long, sort of. There is plenty of reef. The fringing reef comes well out, though with several well-posted passages into the lagoon.
Once inside the lagoon, one cannot steer a course direct to Noumea, or one would come to a grinding halt. Crunch! (coral reefs and islets)
Nevertheless, a small boat paradise is inside this beautiful lagoon. Plenty of places to anchor and overnight.
A naturally protected harbour, Noumea is with not one, nor two, but three marinas and plenty anchorages outside of them. Lots and heaps of yachts.
Port Moselle Marina, similar to Papeete Tahiti, is in the town. Fast ferries come and go. A floating jetty opposite the Marina office and the terribly important (I reckon) Brasserie. Very friendly staff, nice. But the negative is you need a gold card to pay for the beer. Anyway, it is the visitors jetty and pens.
There is no shortage of Australian flags and Australian accents everywhere…
New Caledonia is French; the tricolour flag flies.
The British have all sorts of flags. The French have the tricolour, meaning they use the same flag: military, shipping and domestic.
This aside, French Polynesia and New Caledonia also have their own flags, as our Australian states do.
A week back, on the visiting yachts dock, I noticed a black rubber sided Rib with a hard bottom and a big outboard. Docked near the gate-out on the jetty, it had the look of efficiency. It was manned by military and police type. They went on to another dock.
Later on, an Australia owner (neighbour) of a large stock-production catamaran (the fashion these days) said there had been a drug bust. The French-owned yacht, with East-European crew, had 1.3 tons (he alleged) of cocaine onboard. The yacht was being tracked on its way to Australia.
It ain’t going to get there.
Some weeks earlier I mentioned the customs officer in Tahiti; he showed me on his computer what his real job was: tracking fishing boats all across the South Pacific. Oodles and masses of little white dots on the screen.
My guess, they know who, what and where a certain yacht is. One cannot hide that yacht, not even in the big wide Pacific Ocean. Sneaking into little outlying islands like French Polynesia, Tonga or even Chesterfield Islands, a little over halfway between the north of New Caledonia and the Australian Great Barrier Reef. They will know.
Chesterfield Islands is French (the Coral Sea is a bit of a French Lake). It is 2,600 N Miles from Tahiti to New Caledonia via my way points. All pumped into the B&G, of course…
The last 1,000 miles was quiet. I blame this (or I suspect) on the effect of the islands to the north: Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu.
In previous years, I’ve noted the windy Indian Ocean trade winds coming from the Australian owned Christmas Island and Cocos Islands to Mauritius. However, as one draws closer to Mauritius, with the effects of the islands Rodriguez, Mauritius and Reunion, the wind and ocean can be quiet at times; beginning some 100s miles away.
Back here in New Caledonia, Port Moselle Marina (Noumea) is often glass calm.
It is winter, though soon to be spring. Climate par 1 excellent. Unlike Panama – in the doldrums – that’s par 1 yuk, multiplied by humidity and thunder storms.
Soon I will depart for Bundaberg Queensland Australia. 800 N Miles – 25 degrees latitudes.
Far enough north (maybe) to avoid the more severe Equinox depressions, which strike the southeast of Australia.
From Bundaberg – watching weather forecasts – I will sail south to Queensland’s Gold Coast and then on to Sydney Town, all on the long haul route (south about the Australian Continent), on my way home to Western Australia…
A few day ago on the 12 August, I turned 78 (1939).
Blimey, doesn’t feel like it. I am only just starting. Wouldn’t want to kark it yet; otherwise, one would never know what Donald Trump will say next.
Kindest regards to all