Day Five to New Cal

Fortunately, the wind has stayed as predicted. Though a bit stronger than the GRIB model which predicted ESE winds at 16-18 knots. We’ve been seeing more like 22-28 today. The wind has moved more to the East, which works well for us since we are now sailing almost directly at our next waypoint for maybe the first time all trip.

It helps that we moved our waypoint…

Our original plotted course had us entering the Passers De Boulari, which is a series of three breaks in the barrier reefs on the the Southwest side of New Caledonia. It has the advantage of being the closest reef passes to the city of Nouméa, the capital and where all yachts must go to clear into the country.

Looking at our constant inability to go West without also going no North at all, or even slightly South because of the wind, another way occurred to me. On the Southeast corner of New Caledonia is the Ile des Pines, which is on a largish bay surrounded by coral reefs. To the west of the bay is an uncharted area we wouldn’t try to go through, but the bay narrows down to a well charted and marked series of passes that we could follow through to reach Nouméa going inside the barrier reef.

So this is how we’re doing it. It saves us the trouble of sailing another 80 miles or so Westward to get around the uncharted reefs at the Southwest end of the island, and makes the route shorter.

Currently we expect to hit the the opening of the bay near Ile des Pines somewhere around 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning. I’ll slow us down at night if it puts use there before that. I have ZERO interest in being anywhere near any reefs whatsoever before daylight. As of this writing Ile des Pines is 109 miles away, and we’re averaging eight knots, and it’s about 6:00 p.m. So that’s about 13.5 hours to get there. From that point it’s still another fifty-sixty miles of traveling inside the barrier reef to get to Nouméa. We expect that will be in protected flat waters, and barring any bad currents should run another eight hours or so, putting us in Nouméa in the late afternoon. Probably too late to clear in tomorrow, but we’re not unhappy to spend the night sleeping flat, showered, and cleaned up before checking in.

With the increased winds we have been faster today, though the waves have been more confused since the longer swell that was coming in from the West was mixing it up with the wind blow waves from the SE trades. It’s settling down now, and we hope for a quiet evening…if not too fast!

If I put another update out tomorrow it will be brief as we decompress from the trip. It will have taken us a day longer than we hoped, but given the amount of sailing versus motoring we’ve done so far that’s not bad.

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One Comment

  1. Viki Moore says:

    Sorry we will miss you! We’ve had a fab time on NewCal but fly home tomorrow.
    Keep an eye out for Esther Louise in Port Moselle. Her owner Jay will be back here in a few days.

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