Monday, May 19, 2008

Onwards to the Loyalties

We've left New Caledonia and are heading for Ouvea in the Loyalty islands on-route to Vanuatu.

We raised the anchor before breakfast, to make the most of the favourable SW wind, make the reef break with a favourable tide and to escape from the confines of the boat - cabin fever was in danger of setting in after a day of continuous rain and spending too much time cleaning and bleeding the fuel system ...again. My feeling of confinement wasn't helped when I was forced to search an inaccessible locker for a new bleed screw, having sheered-off the existing one just as I thought I'd finished the job. Fortunately I've gained a locker-full of spare engine parts from a scraped engine I scavenged in New Zealand and after much rummaging found a replacement.

The early morning weather didn't look particularly inviting - grey sky, drizzle and clouds shrouding the mountains. With the pine trees at the foot of the hills you could imagine why the early explorers were reminded of Scotland, hence the name of the territory.

We sped through the reef with a falling tide accelerating our progress into treacherous looking turbulent waters beyond the break. I can see why Amedee pass is recommended for a first visit as I could imagine the boiling waters habouring some deadly rocks or fatal whirlpools ready to overwhelm the unwary - a little off-putting after, say, a tiring passage from New Zealand - glad we picked Amedee.

Once clear, we set our course to Ouvea and we've had a great day's sailing in sight of the east coast of the main island, with wind on the beam and clearing skies. Just before the spectacular sunset, we managed to land our first Mahi-mahi since we left New Zealand (the other two got away). Finished the day feasting on fresh fish by the light of the full-moon. Doesn't get much better than this.

Position @ 20:00 (GMT - 11.00): S21°38.9' E166°46.3'
Distance to go: 60 nmile

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