[This is part 2 of 2 of Liz's most recent letter home]
New Caledonia is well-known as a kiting destination, and we have not been disappointed. Since Honey left for NZ, we have spent a few days at Ilot Maitre, where the government provides free moorings (to avoid yachts anchoring on the coral) and all we have to do is dinghy ashore, walk the short path to the windward side of the island, and launch from the beach. The trade winds blow on-shore, so we don't even need a safety boat. Our friend Philip on SV BLUE BIE had tracked down a new board for Max at one of the local kiting shops, so he was especially happy to no longer be on an undersized board, and we were able to kite together for the first time. I was very nervous when we arrived on the long kiting beach, with the wind catching my board making it seem heavy and awkward, and expert kiters whizzing by just a few feet away off the waves lapping beside me. I wondered how I would ever manage to operate my kite without crashing into something or someone, but somehow, by remembering to breathe and just doing 'the next thing' as it needed to be done, I soon found myself on the water. Unlike Ailuk, where we kited downwind right from the beach, at Maitre, where we were being blown onshore, I walked out into the water until I felt like I was far enough away to start. Ilot Maitre is an ideal place to kite because the water is always shallow enough to stand, and at some tides it is hardly waist-high (even for me!) Several kiting schools operate at Maitre, so it didn't take long (a couple of days) for me to realize that there were students on the water who knew even less than I did! The 'rules of the road' apply in the same way as they do for sailboats - starboard tack has right of way, upwind kites lift their kites and downwind kites lower them when meeting, etc. The first day I was out, it trusted my 'learner stance' (and bright yellow flotation vest) to create my cone of protection around me, and rarely had to do much about the rules of the road, but within a few sessions, I found that I had a developing instinct for making way for the other kiters (other than raising my kite to the '12 o'clock' position, cringing, and hoping they avoided me, or crashing into the water and making them turn to avoid me!)
|Photo by Johnathan|
|Photo by Johnathan|
|Photo by Johnathan|
|A bit less crowded than Noumea|
|Our friend Philip on Blue Bie heading out.|
|Paddleboard trip to see the turtles and sharks.|
|The view from the top of the hill. Fluenta visible in the background.|
|Calm (Blue Bie photo)|
|Time for a swim|
|Benjamin practicing his Trump impression|
Because we have elected to spend our whole season in New Caledonia in the same lagoon (ie we are not headed off-shore to visit the Loyalty Islands) we have launched Trickle from her snug spot on our davits, and she is readily available for the kids to launch from the foredeck on any day that we have light winds. The first day she was available, the five kids went for a sail at Ilot Maitre when we were there with Honey. It was delightful for the grownups to watch the kids sailing around the anchorage and tying up to a mooring for their picnic lunch. We found out about the funniest moment when they came back - Benjamin 'had to go' so they undid the leg snaps on his dragon suit and Johnathan held him in the air over the side to do his business. The kids are nothing if not resourceful :) The rest of our sailing in Trickle has been a little more mundane, and every few days, we have been able to enjoy the little sail journeying around the bay. Victoria figured out a way to reef the sail by wrapping it around the mast before it is secured to the end of the boom, so this has increased our wind limits to about 12-13 kts. We were having a lovely afternoon of sailing earlier this week at Ilot Kouare when Victoria and I had a bit of an adventure. Everyone had had a turn in the dinghy, and as we were heading back to Fluenta for the final time, one of the two rudder pintles (pins) broke off, and the rudder was suddenly held on by only one. On the helm, Victoria kept her cool, reached back and held onto the pieces, and given that we were only a short distance upwind of Fluenta, we signalled Max to come get us in the dinghy. Even with a small boat, cruising becomes 'maintenance in exotic locations' :) Thankfully, we are likely to be able to find the spare piece in Noumea when we return.
|Trickle in Noumea|
|Basic seamanship training.|
We spent Victoria's birthday at Ilot Kouare. We had thought about stopping at a little place called Ilot Ndo, but when we arrived and saw the 'recommended' anchorage (within a channel within the reef, anchored fore and aft; we had hoped we could just hang off the side of the island itself, but it turned out to be far too deep) we headed a few miles west to a place with numerous anchorages that would be suitable every wind direction. Victoria's preferred brunch was crepes, and thankfully she was willing to make them, as they are time-consuming on one pan. She and I spent a lovely afternoon together decorating her cake. She wanted to try out all the different flower-making techniques she had learned (kind of a sampler cake) and I was only too happy to stick to making icing and accepting her offer to form a few flowers. Even though we are together 24/7, it was an all-too-rare treat for both of us to have an open-ended period of time together. Our friends on Exodus had left us with one of their favourite games when they moved back into a house, and it has become a favourite for us as well, so Victoria's choice for the evening was a marathon session of Rummikub, during which we kept a running score separate from our usual sheet (which we keep by the season). It was a low-key but laughter-filled evening celebrating Victoria. Despite not having had a nap, Benjamin managed to see the evening through to its cake at completion ... but he slept in in the morning!
|Work in the galley|
We are now moored at Ilot Amadee, and will head to Noumea to restock on Sunday. It looks like the wind-switch will turn back on next week, and with the return of the trade winds, we will head to Ilot Maitre again for kiting.
|View from the lighthouse top.|
|Poisonous sea snake.|
With love from our hearts to yours,
At 2017-09-29 10:39 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 22°28.58'S 166°27.83'E