Since we arrived in New Caledonia at the end of April, we have experienced a brush with Cyclone Donna, wonderful diving and island BBQ's, a visit from Eric and extraordinary islands, atolls and reclusive anchorages. New Caledonia has it all along with a vibrant capital city complete with any provision you'd like (as long as you are prepared to pay dearly for it!).
However, now we are off to Vanuatu to spend the remainder of our sailing season in a more rural and rustic environment. Last year we spent a couple of weeks in Vanuatu and we have been looking forward to coming back. Follow along on our passage from Noumea to the Loyalty Islands and then onto Port Vila, Vanuatu.
by Art, 'Arrival!'
Lucky us! We enjoyed one tack all the way from Ouvea to Port Vila! The sailing conditions were lovely with 12-15 kts of constant wind and only 1.5 m seas. Occasionally, the the winds increased to 18-22 kts later in the night (on my watch, yeah!). We averaged 8.5 kts the entire passage with a high speed of 14 kts at one point.
FG was in her element and was so smooth and easy to helm we all looked forward to our time steering her. Around 11:30 on Monday we reached the Bai Vila, dropped anchor in the quarantine area and started called for Customs to come clear us in. After a while, another boat spoke up on the radio advising us it was a national holiday here and they'd been waiting since Saturday night! Oh well, that's what happens sometimes so we just got FG squared away, had a nice dinner and caught up on our sleep until tomorrow when (hopefully!) everyone is back to work!
Currently the mainsail is reef 1 and the genoa is out. The sky is clear, we have good visibility and the sea state is slight. Wind is 13.2 kts from 134°T, the air temperature is 22°C while the sea temperature is 27°C. Our SOG is 10.0 kts with our COG 10°T.
by Art, 'Leaving Ouvea for Port Vila'
Bright and early today we lifted our anchor and headed back out through the pass to begin the final 225nm passage to Port Vila, Vanuatu. We had a fantastic day in Ouvea but all wished we had more time! The beach is miles and miles of white sand with tons of shells for collecting and some of the nicest swimming we've had in the Pacific. What a paradise!
The forecast for the next 24 hours is for good winds and light seas all the way to Port Vila. We're expecting about 16kts from the southeast which should give us a wind angle just down from the beam.
We always plan for an 8kt average speed but with these consistent winds we should be able to do better than that. Keep watch on our map below to follow our progress and see what our speed is doing . We also should be able to do this passage on just one tack as the wind angle is forecast to be consistent.
I love these kinds of passages!!
by Art, 'Ouvea, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia'
Got the freezer fixed (it took most of the week and 3-4 visits from the technician) and cleared out of Noumea yesterday morning (Friday). By noon we were heading south toward the Canal de La Havannh and out of the main pass back to open sea. Overnight we sailed and motored our way about 150nm to the lagoon of Ouvea where we will spend the day and head out tomorrow (Sunday) to continue the passage over to Port Vila, Vanuatu. We had very good seas conditions with light swell and a quartering downwind of about 10-12kts. The skies were clear so we saw fantastic stars to steer by.
It's so wonderful to be back sailing again!
by Art, 'Still in Noumea...'
Well our plans have changed a bit. Over the weekend our main freezer wouldn't freeze any more so we had to relocate as much of the food as we could to our other freezer and then try to figure out what was wrong. Since it was a holiday weekend (Bastille Day) no one was available to come work until Monday. Since then we've had a repair guy over three times and we still do not have the problem solved. We'll keep trying this week to get it repaired and if not, we'll shut it down for the season and make do with one freezer until we get to NZ in September
Ah, the life of a sailor!
by Art, 'Noumea, preparing to depart'
Over this coming weekend we'll finish preparing the boat for the passage to the Loyalty Islands on Monday or Tuesday. It's about 200 nm to Ouvea Atoll where we'll stay a few days resting before doing a 310 nm passage onto Luganville on Santos Island in Vanuatu. We'll turn on the Yellowbrick tracker when we actually depart so you can follow along. In the meantime, a relaxing weekend is in store for all of us!
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