I knew I liked New Caledonia as soon as we entered the pass. Erik and the girls were at the bow while I was checking the chart when I heard cries of: “Dolphin! Dolphin!” And sure enough, we had a cetacean visitor guiding us in to Noumea. Very civilized. Or rather, wild, which is the way we like it
Job number one when we get to port is to let the girls run. Ten days is a long time to be cooped up in a small space, and even swinging on the handholds (our own personal monkey bars) can only do so much. So while Erik and I got water and worked on the boat, they practiced kung fu by day and danced outside to the live band playing in the cafe every evening. In short, they shook their sillies out.
Noumea has a nice vibe to it, but it didn’t take long to find evidence of culture clash in our happy bay. New Caledonia is French, but a lot of Anglophones sail through here. As you can imagine, cultural mores differ. For example, this was posted in the Women’s room:
For those of you whose French is a little rusty, it says, “After numerous complaints from our clients, we would ask our male users to respect the non-mixing of the showers. Couples who wish to take their shower together should do so by the Men’s.” I have collected a lot of sign photos over the past few years, but this is now far and away my favorite. What is the history here? What mighty battle of Prudes vs. Nudists was fought on these shores? In my mind, an elderly Australian lady tottered into the loo, only to be confronted with some French block-and-tackle and a friendly, “Bonjour!” And, ka-boom! I love that co-ed showers are not banned – just restricted to a more favorable environment. And everyone is happy, right? I should also point out that both restroom doors are perpetually open and in view of each other, so if ever there were a pointless solution, this is it.
Today, we were ready to anchor out. Hurrah! I hate marinas – I never sleep well. So off we went. When we drop anchor, I am at the bow operating the anchor chain, and Erik drives. As we got underway, I discovered issue #1: the chain wouldn’t come out. So I got to crawl into one of my favorite places – the anchor locker – to sort it out. Somehow, the chain came down the hawsepipe, then disappeared into the aft starboard corner of the locker under all of the rest of the 70 m of chain. I love it when the chain flops over at sea – it makes me feel so needed when we reach port. So I hauled all of the chain out of the way, released my leading end, and got delightfully rusty and dirty in the process.
Back on deck, I waited for the signal as Erik manoeuvred. Normally Erik cooly points downwards when he is ready, but this time he started shouting, “Drop it! Drop the anchor!” Never a good sign. As it turns out, he had suddenly lost power to the propeller. A brief investigation revealed that the coupling on our propeller shaft failed… and boy, does it look ugly. Luckily we are set up in a good spot, because we aren’t going anywhere until we fix it.
So we might be in a Noumea a little longer than we planned. That’s okay. We have sun, baguette, and, most importantly, the girls are back in the water.
|Ice cream break.
We are home again.
This article was syndicated from Sailing Papillon