North of Nouméa lies Baie St. Vincent, a collection of islands and coves within a day’s sail. As we were to find out, most of the islands inside the bay are rocky and rough – more reminiscent of Maine than the South Pacific. But one of the islands outside the bay is one of the nicest places we’ve visited, here or anywhere else. Of course, we took two days to get there anyway, since we started late.
Our first stop was a one night only layover. A pretty place, like everywhere here seems to be, just out of sight of Noumea. The glow from the small city was still slightly visible in the sky.
There was little there but a few boats, like us on a one night stop on the way to someplace else. It’s still a beautiful spot, and Kathy and the kids decided to take a quick trip ashore before sunset while I waited out the anchor watch on board (it is our standard practice to wait at least one hour after anchoring before leaving the boat completely, to ensure all is well and set properly).
Baie de Moustiques
If you speak French, you know what is coming. A ‘moustique’ is a mosquito. Our first stop in St. Vincent’s Bay. The cruising guide we have says it’s a misnomer, but Danielle did complain of seeing one. “Baie de Moustiques” does sound much more romantic and pleasant than “Mosquito Bay”.
It’s another place which is very quiet with little human presence. On shore there were dozens of horses and goat, but no sign of people moving around in spite of two visible encampments/housing sites. We didn’t go ashore since we weren’t sure of the property situation and didn’t want to trespass or alarm the horses.
Kathy and Will took a sail in the Pudgy to visit a nearby island, but had a disappointing visit. The beach, which looked sandy from a distance, was rocky and the approach was tough and they made a rough landing on the beach. The grasses and vines on the island were so high and thick they could not climb to the summit of the small hill for pictures. It was a short, wet trip, and we decided to move on from Mosquito Bay the next day.
Baie de Pritzbuer
Don’t ask me where they get the names. Our next destination was only about two miles from Baie de Moustiques as the Balbuzard flies (a New Caledonian subspecies of what we call an Osprey) it was a longer trip for us as we had to sail around several islands and avoid a narrow pass. The pass would have been shorter, and we could do it in the dinghy. But with a ten foot charted depth we tend to avoid places like that if we can. The trip around was about eight miles, and took us past the tantalizing Il Ténia (literally “Tapeworm Island”) on the way.
Pritzbuer Bay lies between the main island of New Caledonia, and two smaller islands – Ile Puen and Ile Leprédour. Ile Puen is privately owned and you must seek permission to land. It looks like a lovely spot, but we didn’t approach. Ile Leprédour is a nature preserve, and landing is strictly prohibited.
It’s a gorgeous spot, but left us puzzled about how to get off the boat and explore. A boat ramp on the mainland looked promising, and there was a dock further off but it appeared private. But all there appeared to be on the mainland side was a road, with a rumor of a village nearby. A village…may or may not be useful. But we found other diversions anyway.
One of our first excursions on arriving was to head to the ramp to beach the dinghy, flip it over, and clean the bottom. We’d accumulated way too much marine growth, and the dinghy had become slow and unwieldy, while consuming much more fuel. Cleaning it was a must if we wanted to do any exploring.
Several times per day while anchored here we were visited by small pods of dolphins. They’d cruise by the boat, sometimes close enough so the first thing you’d know of them was the sound of their breathing. They were a constant delight to watch, as always.
Ile Leprédour is home to a population of deer and a small flock of Peacocks, of all things. As dusk the deer come out, and watching for them provided lots of amusement and frustration. The deer are tough to spot, but beautiful if you can catch them.
This was a calm, protected and beautiful spot, which made an excellent base of operations for visiting nearby Ile Tenia.
Ile Tenia…is so special it gets it’s own post. So all I can do here is post a teaser or two.