I’ll be back here in a few days to share an update of our smooth passage from Cooktown to Darwin and our visit to Kakadu National Park.
While we were disappointed to leave New Caledonia ahead of schedule, our consolation prize was a great sail to Australia and the promise of new adventure.
We estimated that it would take 8 days to sail the 990 nm from Nouméa to Newcastle, Australia, but we ‘flew’ here in 6 days, close reaching most of the way. While it was a bit uncomfortable to live at a 15° angle due to boat heel, it was well worth a fast passage.
We could have made it in 5 days if it weren’t for an unfavorable current and no wind 350 miles out which had us motoring under 4 knots for 20 hours.
But then the current turned, the winds kicked back in, and before we knew it, we were tying up at the lovely Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club
As very satisfied participants in the Down Under Rally, we benefited from the Rally team’s support before, during and after our passage. were treated to a week’s berth in the marina and received VIP Customs, AQIS and Immigration clearance upon our arrival.
Howard Keegan, the marina manager, personally welcomed us on the dock and provided incredibly helpful local knowledge (including where to find the good street art). The officials were courteous and efficient. We felt very welcome!
After catching up on some much needed sleep, we enjoyed access to ample, affordable provisions at nearby stores, a few meals out in delicious restaurants, and some magnificent street art by both local and world renowned artists – check out my gallery of it here!.
We’d hoped to stay longer as there is much to do in Newcastle, but a weather window once again presented itself, and so we sailed southward toward Sydney.
Our first anchorage was in Coasters Retreat where we picked up a mooring buoy and were immediately invited over for sundowners by Effie and Alan, the friendly crew of SV Kai Rani. They introduced us to a number of members of the Coastal Cruising Club of Australia and suddenly we were surrounded by new friends.
The next day, our new friends invited to join them on shore for a Club BBQ and introduced me to a few local species including my first wallabies.
I felt like a kid again.
The next day, we sailed onward with our friend Stefano of SY Novae up Smith’s Creek and discovered heaven on earth.
We’ve toured about by dinghy, rested, and enjoyed a few dinners with our new friends, the crew from SY Mistyrell, a local boating family that is preparing for their own extended cruising adventure.
We will continue to relax here until the 28th and then sail onward to Port Jackson, also known as the famous Sydney Harbor. So excited!
Checking This One Into Lucile de Godoy’s Welcoming Photo 101 Rehab – The Clinic For Passionate Photographers
**Updated 7 December 2015 ** Delighted to have portions of this post included in the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club Summer 2015 Newsletter **
I was desperately clinging to shore, not ready to change countries just yet. But sadly, the time to depart Fiji had arrived.
We left Denarau to check out at Vuda Point at an exceptionally low tide and proceeded with caution. As we entered the Vuda channel, the depth sounder was showing only 2.5 m of water (with an additional .5 m of depth ‘safety’) and Amandla’s keel is 2.3 m.
We set out about an hour behind our friends John and Leilani from SY Amazing Grace in Force 5 winds and sailed fast covering 180 nm the first day. The Single Side Band Radio (SSB) allowed us to keep in touch with SY Amazing Grace twice daily throughout our journey.
I have to admit that I am a bit uncomfortable on my first day out on passage, especially if we leave in the evening as we did from Fiji. It takes me a bit of time before I get used to the boat’s movement, the watch cycles, and responding without having to think about what I am doing. But somehow, after the first night, I reconnect with the sea and it all seems as it should be, absolutely fabulous.
On our second day out, The Captain caught a beautiful Mahi Mahi while I was happily slumbering in my bunk. I woke up just in time to take a picture.
After 2 days of flying at an average of 7.7 kts, the winds shifted to the east and we slowed tremendously with sails flogging. We rigged a wing- to -wing configuration and then unrigged it because the wind disappeared and we were dead in the water.
We decided to motor sail but just before we cranked up the ‘Iron Genny’, the winds kicked in again and we started sailing at an acceptable 5 kts. At the end of my night watch, we were treated to a majestic moon set.
On the fourth day out, the winds completely died at 2200 hours and we had to turn on the engine for 17 hours. The seas were calm enough to allow me to sleep far away from the engine in the forepeak so I managed to get some rest. At 1500 on our fifth day out, the winds finally kicked and we were flying again.
‘Are we there yet’ is the furthest question from my mind when sailing a long passage. Arrival always seems to come too quickly. While looking forward to seeing all that New Caledonia had on offer, I knew I would miss the peaceful rhythms I find only at sea.
We entered Havana Pass in New Caledonia behind a cargo ship in the early hours of our sixth day.
And now the excitement of arriving in New Caledonia started to take over. The 56 nm passage to Noumea was très jolie!
The only disappointment when I hit these shores was when I was adjusting my polarizing lens and it rolled into the drink.
So how am I liking my new backyard? Well, too soon to tell really. So much to explore and not much time. We plan to sail to Australia with the next good weather window, so change is coming again soon. The longer we can stay here, the happier I will be.
F0r The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Change