A little bit of Paradise

Sans Souci on her way to ill de Pin

Sans Souci left Noumea headed for Baie De Prony June 14, 2017′ we stopped over at Ilot Maitre, picked up a buoy outside the resort. Frozzie picked up a buoy next to us. We went ashore for a walk around the island and checked out the resort. Bought an ice cream and headed back to the Sans Souci. We decided at 12pm to continue on to Baie Ouen, Songlines were headed there and we picked up on AIS that Bossa Nova and Easy Tiger were also going there. We had a great sail until we had to tack to Port to miss Amadee Isle, from then on it was tough going and we had to miss several reefs lying to our port side. The sea picked up and we were bashing into 20 knot winds and 2 metre seas, we arrived at Baie Ouen in the dark at 6.30pm anchored on the port side of Songlines. It  was a good feeling to get the anchor down. We were greeted by Easy Tiger who invited us to share their fish for dinner along with the Bossas. It was very welcome after our 6.30 hours at sea. It was also great to catch up with them as they had spent the last couple of weeks at Isle De Pin.

Easy Tiger anchored at Baie Ouen

Had a bonfire on the beach the next day it was overcast and drizzling, Leanne from Easy Tiger decided it was the best way to spend a day around a camp fire, so we set to and helped collect wood. We all set up tables and chairs and had our dinner around the fire, Potatoes, Zucchini  and we ate the fish we had caught a green Fob fish also known as king Snapper


Moose taking us for a walk around the island

After a couple of nights it was time to head for Isle de Casey, took us 4 hours to get through the Chanel as we were pushing wind and tide. Arrived at 12pm and picked up a buoy, Cruising Kitty were already there. We had 5 boats from the Rally altogether. It was spectacular, had our first swim and snorkel from the back of Sans Souci. We then went ashore to be greeted by Moose who led us on a walk around the island showing us the cemetery and his water hole. Moose had been left on the island by his owners a few years ago ( he did not want to leave) , the water taxi people looked after him with food and all visitors to the island took food for him in return for a guided tour around the island. 

​​Kayaking around Casey Island 

We had sundowners on the Jetty that night and the next morning it was yoga on the Jetty with our Yoga guru Leanne Hembrow ( Down Under Rally leader),  then a kayak around the island, it was a perfect morning that changed very quickly when a westerly came in. We all left for Baie De Caranage, a well protected Bay from all weather conditions. Anchoring was another matter in 12-15 metres of water with lots of shoal around and very quick drop offs going from 20m to 2m. After a couple of attempts we were anchored safely along with half a dozen other boats. The bossas, tigers, kitty’s and sansoucians dinghied to the Jetty near the Prony village, dropping off our rubbish in the large bins provided at the boat ramp. We then walked to the Prony Village, a steep track which leveled out to a fairly easy walk. The Village was no longer occupied, but was kept very neat and used for occasional tours. It was once a penal colony for prisoners shipped from Paris during the uprising. Later used to house mining families when the iron ore was discovered. It was a very pretty Village with a lovely stream running through the middle and had a quaint bridge for crossing. Still some ruins remaining of the convicts buildings.  It was back to our boats for sundowners on Bossa Nova.

The Prony Village

Had a lazy morning then followed Easy Tiger and Bossa Nova by dinghy to the hot springs which were a little tricky to navigate through all the rocky boulders caused through landslides over the years. The springs were no longer maintained as the resort on Isle de Casey has been closed for many years. It was still amazing to find something of this nature in the wilderness of a deep rocky ravine. Sundowners on Sans Souci 15 people, we had been joined by La Jorga and Zofia. It was a great impromptu night. The liver is starting to suffer a bit though.


Hugh, Neville and Amànda at the hot springs



It was Amanda’s 59th birthday and a party was organized on Bossa Nova, we all took a meal to share. Neville rewarded us with his singing and guitar skills, it was a most enjoyable night with plenty of birthday cake. We were woken at 2.30am by an anchor chain being pulled up. It was Easy Tiger re anchoring. All was good.
Amanda celebrating with champagne and special birthday cake provided by Zofia

The next morning we left for Isle de Pin along with Zofia, Cruising Kitty and Squander. We had a great sale anchoring after 5 hours in Baie de Kanumera Isle de Pin. We were invited for sundowners on La Jorga followed by dinner on Cruising Kitty.Next morning we pulled up anchor it was rather rolly we had a southerly blowing in. Moved around to Baie de Kuto. I went for a walk and found the bakery along with Eva and her visitor Anna. Stocked up on a few grocery items and some nice crunchy baguettes. The local pub was closed and resorts seemed fairly quiet. Found a small boutique selling hand painted sarongs and shirts and some old ruins that used to be a part of the prison.

Hand painted sarongs and shirts at the Botique

Next morning we took a taxi with Cruising Kitty to the market at Vao, 3000 francs which we  was a bit steep. There was a music festival being held on the grounds. Vegetables and fruit were very basic, we managed to get a few items that were useful and that we recognized. Sundowners on Cruising Kitty.

Market day at Vao

We booked a large taxi for 9 of us to go to Baie de Oer we were to go out on one of the KUU-ORO traditional sailing canoes on the lagoon, we were a little disappointed that the skipper did not put the sale up, however we were lucky to be going as someone important had died on the island and everyone was attending the funeral which was a large celebration. We had a snorkel around the reef it was crystal clear water and only used by the sailing canoes. Our taxi driver then took us to the Natural Springs and dropped us with instructions to call him when we needed to go back to Kuto where our yachts were anchored. We had quite a walk to the springs but it was worth it on arrival. The springs were pristine and full of fish, we had a lovely snorkel then a walk back to the Meridian for a well deserved cocktail and French fries. We rang our driver Alex and he picked us up and took us on a tour of the airport, military cemetary and a lookout giving us an amazing view. The whole day cost us 6000 francs each including our very expensive cocktail, we had a fabulous day.

Our skipper on KUU-ORA

The next morning we moved on to Isle de Brosse which turned out to be a piece of paradise. We had Zofia, Cruising Kitty, Squander and Touranga turned up the next day. Spent 3 nights socializing from boat to boat, snorkeled and walked the beautiful beach. 

Hugh on the beach at ill de Brosse

We have to keep moving, lots to see, left this morning to visit the west side of Isle de pins to a place called Baie de Ouameo it was 23 nm and we had to motor all the way. We checked out the resort and beach the next morning made a booking at the restaurant for 10 of us the next night. We had to choose between fish or beef as they had to go into Kuto for the supplies. The meat and fish were served with a traditional pumpkin and coconut rice. I didn’t mind the fish as it was Atlantic salmon the meat eaters said it was a bit tough. We had a great night a bottle of bourgelais was 2000 francs and our meal was under 2000 francs which was very reasonable.

Eva showing us her skirt shorts

We  hired a car the next day with Eva and Brian we shopped around the island heading to the bakery first at Kuto which was sold out of bread, just as well the local grocery store didn’t open till 9am, we were waiting on his door step at 8.45 am for our baguettes and further supplies. We drove around the island had a coffee at another small resort, fueled up our drums at the garage then went to the Meridian for another cocktail. Brian our chauffeur handled the driving in a very safe manner whilst hugh did all the waving to the locals as they went by.

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Around Noumea

​​May 31,2017

The Wiki Wiki train loading up for our tour

Our day started at the marina where we all gathered at 8.30 am for the Noumea City Tour, we were all herded into the Wiki Wiki train which took us on a two hour tour of Noumea. We covered all the surrounding areas and were shown the best night spots and restaurants, tapas bars etc. the scenery was breathtaking and gave all aboard a great experience covering the mainland of Noumea

The Wechecha Wechecha  dancers, entertaining us

Our first social evening was the “Bonjour Les Marins” (Hello Sailor) dinner with smashing entertainment by a great rock band and a special cultural show presented by the Wechecha performing music and dance group.

The place rocked and the view from the upstairs function Centre “Le bout du monde” over the marina was spectacular


A view overlooking the city of Noumea from one of our stops on the train trip

Over the next few days we became familiar with the city and managed to get a SIM card for our phone from the Post Office, most people spoke some English or were able to get someone who did. The Pastissarie was one of our favorite places, loading up with baguettes, they were delicious. We also found the supermarket (Casino) which had an amazing supply of everything including wines and champagne. The cheese section was frightening and the Pate’s were yum. The market was only a 100 metres from the marina and had a large supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, and a huge fish market. We sampled the green prawns a few times 2100 francs  ($30AUD) a kilo. Really getting the hang of the money here now.

Greg and Josie (our crew on the trip over to New Caledonia) at the Masquarade  farewell party

We took ourselves off to the Aquarium by taxi, 1000 francs ($12AUD) each way. Josie and Greg were still with us and we were trying to fit in as much as we could as they were flying back to Melbourne in a few days. It was awesome and they had a large section on nautilus shells originating from New Caledonia and The history of Dugongs and how they assimilate with mermaids. Apparently there are plenty of them around New Caledonia, Dugongs that is!

New Caledonia here we come

DSC_0139DSC_0136IMG_2742Our sailing adventure started May 23, 2017 when we left the Gold Coast seaway with our crew Josie Lowther and Greg Hollis on board SV Sans Souci. We were all looking forward with in-trepidation to enjoying the exciting crossing to New Caledonia. In all there were 20 boats participating in the Down Under East rally led by John Hembrow SV Songlines, all heading out at the same time.

it didn’t take long for the boats to disappear as they all headed on a different course. We had radio contact with all the boats to start with but as the distance between us widened we found we could no longer transmit, we were receiving so could listen to all the conversations going on but could not participate. We were lucky we at least had the Iridium Go which most of the 20 boats had installed and were able to email and message each other over the next 5 days. We also has our AIS operating so could see many of the boats traveling with us.

Josie (my sister) was our galley bitch and was to prepare all our lunches and dinners for the rest of our journey. Unfortunately she became seasick on the first day, however she still managed to feed us. We had the best meals provided around the clock. No alcohol however until the third day when my sister and I decided we should have a glass of wine for lunch.

The first night out on the water was a bit uncomfortable, we had a two metre swell happening with 15-16 knot SE we motor sailed through the night reaching 8.8 knots at times. We had our watches arranged for 4 hours, I started the first watch at 6pm followed by Hugh at 10pm then Greg at 2 pm. I always find it difficult to sleep on the first night and so be it, I went 24 hours before I finally got to sleep.

Day 2

The next morning the winds had eased and were around 8 knots SE, we were motor sailing with both motors. The boys put the screecher out around lunch time, it ran for a couple of hours giving us 6 knots with the Port motor running. It was fun and games a bit later when they decided to give the spinnaker a run. We had not used it before as it was a swap with Tony and Vicki Little from L’ Attitudes. It was bright yellow and a tad too small for our boat but the boys managed to get a bit of mileage out of her until we saw a storm heading our way and decided it was time to come down. Alas the sock got stuck and they were unable to retrieve it in the normal manner. One had to winch in on the port side whilst the other had to lower the halyard. Greg then dived on the spinnaker and pulled it safely to the trampolines. When things had settled down and spinnaker safely tucked away the main and headsail went up again and the winds now at 20 knot southerly allowed us to enjoy our first sail which took us through the night. Our galley bitch was fully recovered from her sea sickness and was in great form making us scones jam and cream for morning tea.

Day 3

We covered a lot of ground overnight and still had good winds 15 SE for most of the day we continued to enjoy a good sail and our galley bitch produced a lovely salmon salad for lunch with coleslaw and our first glass of wine (girls only). Caught a striped tuna….had to throw it back. Vindaloo curry for dinner…keep it coming Josie
Day 4

Still moving along nicely we had a good reach 15-18 ESE. Only 180 NM from Noumea. We did our washing which was a bit of fun trying to peg things on the line. The whole cockpit was full of washing blowing in the breeze.

it was time to send our parents ashes and message in the bottle that our youngest sister Vicki had put together 18 months ago. We sprinkled most of mum and dads ashes at Bridgewater Bay, Portland Victoria, at a huge family gathering. We had all written a brief message and our contact email addresses on the message in the bottle, we also included some of our parents ashes and $5 which was to help with their traveling expenses. We were hopeful that if someone found the bottle and opened it that they would once again send them on their journey.

We had a meeting at dinner time to decide whether we pushed on to get to New Caledonia early afternoon the next day. It was decided that we would give Sans Souci everything she had to save spending another day on the water. We gunned both motors and full sails and made good time through what was a rough sleepless night.

Day 5

We are now on the last leg of our journey only 30nm to go to Noumea.

We washed our sheets and towels whilst making our way to the lagoon at New Caledonia, we had ships everywhere and a P&O passenger ship came into the lagoon just behind us.

We celebrated with a luscious lunch of smoked chicken and antipasto, coleslaw and baguettes cooked in the oven. Washed down with a delicious bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

We made our way into the Harbour at Port Moselle playing our Down Under music as we circled all the boats that had arrived ahead of us. It had taken us 5 days 6 hours and 27 minutes to reach the lagoon of New Caledonia.

Our leader of the Down Under East rally, John Hembrow SV Songlines instructed us to contact Port Moselle by VHF radio 67 and he told us to be patient. Apparently apart from our 20 boats there were also several other large groups all trying to get cleared through customs. The skipper of the boat Hugh,  had to take the dinghy into the marina and fill out all the paper work for customs. He then returned with a dinghy number that allowed us to take the dinghy into the marina for three days. We then had to wait for customs who were being transported around the Harbour by our leader John Hembrow, he had arranged for all our boats to be cleared on the day. When customs finally got to us we had to surrender our single potato, a few onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber and any other fruit or vegetables we may have had. We saved our cabbage and carrots by making coleslaw and cooked potatoes eggs and onion  to make potato salad. Also squeezed our lemons and limes and threw away the skins. Customs were very good and quick and before long we were cleared to go ashore for the first time in 6 days. We had to remain in the Harbour as the marina was full to bursting. we met many other members of our group ashore and had a celebration at the bar for sundowners.

After we all settled in and most boats arrived, we attended the Bonjour Les Marines welcome dinner organized by our leader DUR, John Hembrow and Herve. It was a pretty spectacular night with a special welcome by Wechecha traditional music and Kanak sounds and rhythm.