Saturday, 2 November 2013

Fiji - New Caledonia passage, 25/10 - 1/11

We arrived in Noumea this morning amidst a sticky mess of pineapple as I desperately tried to eat the last two before bio security took them away. I succeeded, but only just. 7 days, 9 pineapples. Mission accomplished. 

I feel obligated to say something about our passage from Fiji to New Caledonia, seeing as it was our first run offshore with just the two of us. But there's really not much to say. Nothing broke. I was only sick once, and even managed to help prepare food and read a book without feeling ill. For the most part we had blue skies, the wind up our backside and a cool breeze blowing on us as we lay under the shade cover all day. It was pleasant. We went through a few squalls but I have conveniently blocked out the memory of sitting around in the rain for a few days, cold and wet. Although I'm not sure what to call the cold now after living in New Zealand - regular cold needs a different name, because the two cannot be compared.

We take turns with somebody always on watch for two hours at a time, sometimes three depending on how tired we are. So for the first day or so every two hours we would undress and sleep, then two hours later we would dress ourselves again and go on watch. It quickly became harder and harder to justify putting clothes on again. What was the point? So this is now a naked boat. Except for when it's sunny and the shade cover is rolled up, then we hide under every item of clothing we can find like two scared, ginger turtles.

Garth was getting literally eaten alive for the first few days of our trip and he ended up completely covered in huge red bites. I suspect because he wouldn't wear any clothes. He tried to rationalize them in every way possible - bed bugs, measles, fleas, sand flies breeding in the bilge, a contaminated blanket... But I'm sure they were just mosquitos. Mostly because I don't look like I have the Chicken Pox as well and we sleep in the same bed. He was adamant that somebody had sent some kind of plague after him, and almost started pouring bleach into various parts of the boat to kill the imaginary sand flies. Perhaps he's just too itchy to use logic again yet, but he will eventually remember that he's had his measles shot and that bed bugs attack everybody with an unbiased hatred for all people. 

Other than that it's been pretty uneventful. Our time is split between sleeping, reading and staring at a stubborn horizon, willing it to let go of whatever secrets it's hiding. If there's other boats around, we can't see them. The moon keeps startling me - it's not full but very bright, and comes up quite late. Every night without fail I'll be scanning the horizon and will have a moment of panic when I catch the bright glow out of the corner of my eye, thinking we're about to be run down by a giant ship. But it's always the moon.

We've decided that cooking underway is too hard, and we have officially quit. Even if we have something already prepared that just needs to be heated up, it's just impossible unless there's no wind at all. I don't know how Mike does it. I managed to cajole a few fancy meals out of Garth, but the rest of the time we've eaten whatever was easiest. We always over provision as well - from now on we're just buying fruit, some sausages, bread and cheese. Because there's already enough food on here to feed an army and we probably won't cook it anyway.
Garth burned his arm quite badly the other day, trying to save stuff from falling out of our little pantry as he was cooking. We don't have running water to spare, so he just jumped off the boat and trailed behind us off the ladder for about five minutes. That seemed to fix his poor arm and it looked ridiculously fun. The drag slowed us down a bit, but I don't think we'll bother heaving to for a swim next time when we can just hang off the back. 

I saw my first flying fish up close the other day. They're crazy! I always thought flying fish just jumped out of the water a lot, but they actually fly along above the surface. At first I thought they were crazy birds, splashing around in the water before flying around on top and then diving back in again. But they never came back to the surface. We've had a few land on the boat, and they do look kind of like little birds. I wish they were bigger so we could eat them - we haven't bothered fishing much on this trip.

We've really loved getting messages on the satellite phone, both for weather and entertainment. You can send texts to it for free, but we can't send them back without spending a fortune. So Dale has figured out how to communicate using texts on the phone and our free pre-set messages from the spot tracker. We can reply with yes or no, as well as an assortment of other things. So that's been really fun, and he's made a point of regularly entertaining us with random messages. It's really awesome communicating with our friends when we're in the middle of the ocean - it feels like we're not that far from civilization.

The VHF has been spitting out a lovely French drawl for the last day or so, which is exciting. I've got the French dictionary out but I'm sure everybody will speak English and ruin all my fun. My entire knowledge of the French language stems from the song 'Foux du Fafa' by The Flight of the Conchords, so English is probably a good thing seeing as the whole song is nonsense. Although I'm sure we will meander around having conversations with ourselves consisting entirely of 'baguette,' 'camembert' and 'croissant.'

We were due to arrive in Noumea at midnight last night, which was inconvenient. But the wind died anyway, so we just bobbed along slowly as we waited for morning. Occasionally going backwards or in circles. Which got us here this morning just within office hours, hopefully leaving most of the day for exploring depending on how long customs took. We considered motoring in order to get here a day earlier, but then realized it would cost us $200 in fuel. We contented ourselves with napping while we floated around in circles until the wind picked up. 

So we timed it perfectly and arrived at 9am. On a public holiday. Only we could plan a 4 day stopover and then arrive on the first day of a long weekend when all the official offices were closed. We're very lucky they didn't charge us a fortune to check in, and that they're letting us leave the boat at all before Monday. Crisis averted! Although the cheeky customs guy did ask in a thick French accent "Was there a cyclone inside the boat?" Perhaps we should tidy up before venturing out...

Xxx Monique

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