In retrospect, the crossing from Sydney to New Caledonia has been the most exhausting and challenging since I started sailing around the world. The wind on the nose, strong swell and only little sleep where quite exhausting for the boat and ourselves.
Immediately after arriving at the port, we had to continue with the clearance: in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory, thankfully, it is a quite simple and relaxed process. Only a Biosecurity officer came by and checked the boat for prohibited food items such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meat products or seeds. The rest was quickly done with a little paperwork and a visit to the immigration office.
When we arrived, there were already some yachts at the dock that I already knew. They are part of the GLYWO, a sailing rally around the world and our routes had already crossed in French Polynesia, Samoa and Fiji. It was nice to be greeted by some familiar faces in a foreign country.
After a first big clean up, Jeanne and Lionel from SY NOP NOP invited us to dinner together, in the evening. I had repaired their autopilot in a little atoll off the Fijian coast a couple of months ago, and it was nice to update each other on the latest adventures and experiences.
The food was really delicious! Since on board our diet is mostly vegetarian, I decided for the lamb dish. With a well-filled stomach and a relaxed mind from the red wine, I noticed for the first time the tension and exhaustion of the last few days: I had never slept more than three hours at a stretch during the entire eleven-day leg! In the last 48 hours, Haydn and I maybe managed eight hours of rest in total.
The dessert, a tiramisu and espresso (+ the remaining cheesecake from Lionel) finally knocked me out. I had to be careful not to fall asleep and bang my head on the tabletop.
The following two days were filled with more cleanup: We had mountains of salty and musty laundry, the deck was salt encrusted, and there was a nasty diesel smell wafting in the bilge. We had a leak in the tank vent and due to the constant strong heal, diesel had leaked and pooled into the bilge.
With that wave flooding the saloon, it all mixed into a billowing soup and left a greasy film on everything we had stowed down the bilge: A month’s supply of canned food, the anchor chain, and the bilge pumps and their hoses. Everything was soaked!
We already had problems in the electrical system. Short circuits in the switch panel – also caused by the flooding wave! I replaced the affected switches and cleaned all cables and connections as best I could with alcohol and a special cleaner for electronic components.
The outboard needed a new anode. Because of a seized screw and the drive shaft rusted in the gearbox, the little job exploded into a massive two-days action. To loosen the rusted parting point, I had to disassemble the outboard up to behind the oil pan, and then, of course putting everything back t gether . – A short-term solution, only. The reason for the whole mess were worn oil seals. At Mr. Fritsch near my hometown, I ordered a new assortment, including new seals for oil pan and engine head. – Annika, my new co-sailor, was supposed to bring them to me when she came to New Caledonia in two weeks, and I would redo the disassembling with new seals.
During our work we got help and tips from all kinds of people. For example, Tyson – a young Australian who works as a deckhand on a superyacht offered to wash and dry our laundry „in his two industrial washing machines“ they have on board. When we dismantled the engine, other sailors helped with helpful advice and here and there with helping hands, too.
After three days at the dock, we were ready to sail again. Before Maya and Haydn would head back home to Sydney, we wanted to visit the surrounding bays and the probably most famous island of New Caledonia: the „Île des Pines“.
Restocked; filled up with water: „Cast off!“.
New Caledonia is enclosed by a huge barrier reef and has the largest protected lagoon in the world. Despite the fresh breeze, the swell here is rarely higher than at Ammersee and the area is well charted.
First we sailed to a smaller island, about half way, which we christened „Snake Island“ because of the large number of very beautiful but also poisonous sea snakes.
Again, we were caught up by my apparently haunting streak of bad luck: While taking down the mainsail, the leech ripped over a length of about 40 cm! Annoyed and slightly stressed, I decided to postpone the repair to the following day and instead wanted to continue working a talk, which I had prepared for my sailing club, the SSCA.
The new patch is glued and Sewed onto the mainsail – thank you SY Black Moon for your torn headsail 😉
But again!- When I started the laptop, the screen showed: „No Bootable device“. After some research on the internet via my phone, I found that the laptop could not find the SSD; the device memory. So, I opened the supposedly „waterproof“ case of my laptop and found that a microcomponent on the memory disk was adorned with a salt crystal and was apparently shorted. – Days of work preparing a PowerPoint presentation for the next day’s talk were for naught! I had to hold the presentation via the selfie camera of my smartphone, and I was just hoping to find a specialist who could at least rescue my data.
With a little improvisation and the help of my dad at home, we fortunately managed to make the lecture reasonably clear and, above all, to hold the talk at all! I ordered a new SSD and added it to the ever-growing list of spare parts that Anni was supposed to bring me.
This journey is my dream! If you want to support me and keep the journey going, please feel free to invite me for a symbolic dinner!
Thank you so much!
Finally arrived on the „Îles des Pines“ we had then actually three very beautiful days. We dropped the hook in turquoise water, and the following morning, we climbed N’ga Peak – the largest mountain on the island in a short two-hour hike and waited for the sunrise. Maya and Haydn snorkeled with turtles while I lay on the beach relaxing and finishing my recent book. On the last day we hitch- hiked across the island and enjoyed ice cream and coffee on the beach.
The way back to Noumea was without further surprises. We docked again in the marina „Port du Sud“ and for Maya and Haydn it was time to say goodbye.
The same day they left, Annika arrived at the airport in Noumea.