Categorie archief: Grande Terre

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.

Sailing New Caledonia with the honeymooners

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.

Hannah and Wence arrived from Tokya where they had stayed 5 days before arriving in Noumea Tontouta airport.
New Caledonia was discovered by James Cook (keeps amazing me) in 1774 in search of Terra Australis. He chose the name because the northeast (where he landed) reminded him of the highlands of Scotland.

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.

We rented a car for 2 days on Grande Terre and were able to see some of the interior.
Wood sculptures are part of Kanak tradition. The Kanaks are the original inhabitants of New Caledonia. They are Melanesian.
The Jean-Marie Tjibaou cultural Centre was built by the Italian architect Renzo Piano (also built Centre Pompidou). Tjibaou was the leader of the independence movement and assassinated in 1989.The widow of Tjibaou said the following about this building: We, the Kanaks, see it as a culmination of a long struggle for the recognition of our identity; on the French Government’s part it is a powerful gesture of restitution.In 2018 a referendum for independence will be held.
We walked in Le Parc des Grandes Fougères.
Amédée Lighthouse on our way to Isle of Pines. In 1862 the lighthouse was built in Paris as a demonstration. It was then (in 1864) disassembled and transported along the River Seine to Le Havre for its voyage to New Caledonia. With its 56metres tall it is one of the highest lighthouses in the world.
Kouare island, no humans only a colony of black noddy birds.
Enjoying the sun and sea on our trip to Isle of Pines.
Our first anchorage in Isle of Pines, beautiful Kuto Bay.
We walked to the highest point on Isle of Pines, Pic N’ga. The panorama view was gorgeaous.
The totems of Bay St.Maurice. Wood sculpture represents the spirit of Kanak culture.
We snorkeled on many spots and enjoyed the colorful underwater scenery.
A picasso triggerfish, one of my favourites!
Lots of fish…
coral and clams
Picknick on Lifou after a snorkeling session in Baie de Jinek. Unfortunately a cruise ship had just dropped many of its passengers in the same bay. The cruise tourists had to pay 10USD to snorkel, we got it for free 🙂
A traditional house in Lifou. They are more common in the Loyalty islands.
Luengoni beach  and lagoon on Lifou, according to locals the most beautiful beach of New Caledonia.
Luengoni beach on Lifou, a couple hours before it is time to take the plane back to Noumea and Brussels.