Sunday, May 18, 2008

Role Reversal

We've been busy since the last blog update; returning to Nouméa, fixing the bow roller, catching up with old friends, stocking up for the trip to Vanuatu, scouring the town for hard to locate boat spares, procuring duty-free diesel, starting numerous other boat jobs, checking-out of New Caledonia and celebrating Charlotta's birthday. Phew... feels exhausting just writing about it.

Great to arrive back in Nouméa and find old friends in the marina you didn't expect to see. Especially when they've built their own boat and dissuade you from your chosen course of dismantling half the front of the boat just to fix a bent shaft. They then lent me their tools, produced a stainless rod from their spares as well as supervising and advising on the repair in progress. So it was with Ian and Cathy from Ariel.Thanks to Ian and the wonder of epoxy resin, the repair took a less than day and the result should be an improvement over the previous arrangement.We also met-up with George and Ute on Miama, fellow Whangarei dockland 5 inmates and Claude who spent the Pacific hurricane season building a new carbon-fibre mast in Whangarei as well as Stefan and Jim, our marina neighbours from our previous visit to Nouméa. Stefan (starboard-side neighbour) on hearing of Charlotta's imminent birthday took it upon himself to organise an evening out to celebrate. So it was we found ourselves on Friday night in a Nakamal - a dimly lit kava drinking den - to sample the local dishwater and then onto a bar/club perched over the clear lagoon waters, to sample the local cocktails.We also checked-out on Friday for departure on Sunday as the French colonial authorities don't work weekends, at least not for visiting yachts. We thought we were being cunning as it gives us a couple of extra days to clear the lagoon in addition to the helpful three days allowed. The plan was in danger of back-firing when it transpired that the administration appears to treat Friday as an extension to the weekend and only after much delay and hassle opened-up for the voilier anglais.

On Saturday we started our journey towards the south of the main island bashing into a short-steep chop brought on by a strengthening east wind. As we tacked out to Amédée and back again we experienced a role reversal. I was sea-sick and incapacitated, meanwhile Charlotta ably helmed and brought us into a sheltered anchorage on the main island.

I blame the rich chocolate birthday cake which I gorged before we left, that or my body reacted to the frantic activity of the previous few days - somewhat worrying for my eventual return to work.We're slowly working our way towards the reef-break off the SE of the main-island from where we're planning to stop in the Loyalty islands before heading to Vanuatu. Currently a low over the Loyalties is bringing NE winds and rain so we're sheltering down-below, awaiting a wind shift to the south. Charlotta's enthusiasm for washing and the recent lack of good drying days means it's not as comfortable in the boat as normal - our saloon cushions and pillows remain distinctly damp. We're hoping
for more drying days in the Loyalties.

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