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.
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 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.
Today November 25th, 2017. Sanuk is on the hard in Noumea, we are getting her ready for her yearly “cyclone sleep”. In the mean time we are staying in a nice hotel not far from the boat yard. We are almost done :-), the sails are down, a lot of little repairs are done or will be done while we are away, the cabinets and bilges are cleaned and the walls are wiped down with bleach and vinegar to prevent mold.We will leave on monday for Australia where we will travel for 2months with a campervan . End of January we will go to Vietnam and maybe end of February to Myanmar…
We have free internet in the hotel so time to update our blog.
After 4 days of sailing (from Fiji) we arrived safe and sound in Noumea (New Caledonia). We did have a scare when about 2hrs before arriving our Autopilot gave up on us. Luckily we were almost there . We both were sooo happy it did not happen in the middle of our crossing. Luckily we found a mechanic(in Noumea) who found the problem in 30min. The next morning it was fixed with a new part. We stayed in the marina of Port Moselle to await our visitors, Hannah and Wence.
New Caledonia consists of the main island :Grande Terre, the loyalty islands : Maré, Lifou and Ouvéa, the Isle of Pines, the Chesterfield islands and Belep. We sailed from Noumea, towards Isle of Pines then on to Maré, a stop in Tiga and to Lifou where Hannah and Wence took the plane back to Noumea and on to Belgium. We (the captain and I) continued sailing to Ouvéa, Yaté (Grande Terre), Bay of Prony, Ile Amedee and back to Noumea. Unlike many of the other islands we visited in the South Pacific, Grande Terre is NOT a vulcanic island but was a part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. It is speculated that Grande Terre separated from Australia 66million years ago. The Loyalty islands and the Isle of Pines are vulcanic.