Maandelijks archief: november 2017

Ouvéa, l’ile la plus proche du paradis

It is now Sunday, november 26th, our last evening in Noumea and we are staying in “hotel du Centre” with good internet so it is time to finish my update of New Caledonia.

When Hannah and Wence left us in Lifou, on October 26th, we continued sailing to Ouvéa another island of the Loyalties group. Ouvéa was enlisted as a Unesco World Heritage site in july 2008.

Our first stop was in Mouli. The sun was out, the skies were blue and the water in the lagoon was crystal clear with a beautiful white sand beach.
New Caledonian custom requires that you first pay respect to the tribe who owns the land where you are anchored. This means taking a gift and a bank note of 1000XPF (10USD). We found a group of people playing Bingo (they can play it for hours) near the church and paid our respect to the oldest of the group. We were now free to go where we wanted and fish in their waters.
Lékiny Bay with at the far end the cliffs of Lékiny. Stefan tried out his drone here but could not get it to work properly. Too bad because the views were really beautiful.
From the bridge in Mouli, overlooking the lagoon we saw several rays, a shark, lots of fish and this huge turtle coming up for air.
The Ouvéa memorial is a tribute to the 19 Kanaks who died in 1988 when French military stormed a cave to free French gendarmes being held hostage by the pro-independence movement. It was here also that a year later the pro-independence leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou (see previous blog) and Yeiwene Yeiwene were killed by extremist who believed they were too moderate.

New Caledonia was annexed to France in 1853. France was looking for a strategic military location and a penal settlement. The first convicts arrived in Noumea in 1864 after a 6 month journey from France. Till 1897 about 25000 convicts were sent to New Caledonia. NC status was changed after WWII from colony to a French overseas territory. In the late 70’s the independence movement became more popular and France agreed to talks with the pro-independence leaders. After a series of tumultuous events the UN General assembly voted in 1986 in favour of NC reinscription on the UN’s decolonisation list. In april 1988 the Ouvéa crisis erupted where a separist group took 27 people hostage and demanded instant independence. 19 hostage-takers were killed (Ouvéa memorial) and 2 military people died. In 1998 the Noumea Accord was signed between the French government and the independence parties. This Accord stipulated a 15-20 year period of growth and development ending with a referendum for independence. This referendum will be held in 2018. If the independence vote fails the Accord provides that 2 more referendums will be held in the following years. We are curious to see what will happen but many doubt the pro-independence vote will win. To be continued.

We sailed from Ouvéa to the East Coast of Grande Terre and made a stop in Port Boise to stretch the legs. There are lots of beautiful well marked hiking trails all around the southern tip of Grande Terre.
Next anchorage was Bay of Prony where we went up to the lighthouse Cap NDoua. The red colour from the earth comes from its richness in iron and also nickel. In the area there are several nickel mining plants. Nickel plays an important part in the NC economy. About 10% of the world nickel reserves sit in NC.
Cap NDoua lighthouse.
Sanuk in the Bay of Prony next to Ile Casy
The powder house of Prony village. Prony village was a convicts village. The first European inhabitants were Captain Sebert and 29 convicts who landed here in 1867 to log timber for building materials for the growing colony.
Ruins of convicts houses in Prony village.
Another hike in Prony Bay, taking a break during the 17km walk.
Along the trail many wild orchids just started to bloom.
A lot of the trees were burnt by a fire but this did not seem to have bothered the orchids.
The New Caledonian Friar bird is a honey eater. It was a joy to see his acrobatics to get to the nectar from the bottle brush tree.

We have sailed around for about 1,5months in NC and there is still so much more to be discovered. Hopefully the weathergods are with us in April of next year and we can sail along the East Coast  of Grande Terre up to the north with maybe some diving along the way. But now we are looking forward to be “landlubbers” for 4 months while we travel Australia and Vietnam.

NC 4 november 2017 Sfeervideo Ouvea Lagoon

Hier is nog een video van ons drie daags verblijf in de lagoon van Ouvea. We waren de gehele tijd gans alleen.

Je vraagt je misschien af wat al die donkere plekken in het blauwe water zijn. Welnu, dat zijn koraalhoofden, tete de corail in het Frans of coralheads aka bommies in het Engels.

En wanneer je ankert in water met een heen en weer beweging, zoals eb en vloed in een nauw kanaal, dan draait de boot  en zijn anker zich mee met de stroming. Soms kan het zijn dat je ketting dan rond een koraalhoofd vast komt te zitten, zoals hier het geval was:

mooi ingepakt als een kerstmis cadeautje


Gelukkig was het water zeer ondiep, 2 meter, en konden we zien vanop de boot hoe we moesten varen om de knoop te ontwarren.