Saturday, 16 November 2013

New Caledonia, Noumea - 7/11/13

The last few days have been magical. We went back to the kiting island for three nights, anchored next to a reef and went snorkeling. Almost immediately we came across a big turtle, just sitting on the seabed looking up at us. He was nicely camouflaged amongst the coral and sand and he almost went unnoticed as we swam past. He eventually got bored of staring at us and wandered off, so I dove down and swam near him for a while. Turtles aren't really that slow! I could only just keep up with him and I had flippers on. So that was definitely the highlight of our day - I've seen lots of turtles before, but I've never stumbled across any while I was swimming. It was really special sharing his little space underwater - he was only a meter or two underneath us. I wanted to pat him, but kept thinking about the turtles we used to rescue from the road when I was a child. They would wander away from the creek and sit on the warm concrete, blissfully happy in the sunshine. My mother used to carry a thick sack in the trunk which she would dump over their heads like she was kidnapping them, and they would swing around widely trying to take a chunk out of her hand while she carried them back to the creek. And this one was much bigger, even though his big dopey face looked like the only thing he wanted to put in his mouth was sea grass.

The reef was interesting, but different from the ones in Fiji. Where we were there were patches of coral with sand in between them, whereas in Fiji the reefs were mostly big long chunks of coral risen above the seabed - there was often a wall of reef where it started and it was obviously separate from the rest of the ocean. We saw a few new things, including some huge clams with purple teeth. I realize they're not actually teeth, but one of them kept opening and slamming shut like he was munching on the water. And there wasn't a single star fish, which was the only thing you were guaranteed to see if you stuck your head under any water in Fiji. The fish in New Caledonia were different too, with lots of much larger reef fish swimming around instead of the thousands of tiny fish we came across in Fiji. It was a bit surreal when the reef ended - there was sea grass for as far as we could see. It was like looking at a field, except it was underwater. I'm sure the turtles love it though, and we kept a keen eye open in case there were more.

Garth saw another one when we were sailing, but I was reading and missed it completely. I only looked up in time to see a dark shadow disappear under the water. He said it was as wide as our dinghy, and was quite adamant about it. It was just floating along on the surface when we went by.

Garth got a really good afternoon of kiting in, which was awesome. The island had no waves around it, with nice winds and long stretches of beach. It only had seagrass under the water, no coral, and it was a pretty perfect place for kiting. No wonder there had been so many kiters there when we first arrived. He had only ever really been kiting on the beach and snow before, so it was the first time he'd really gotten going on the water which was exciting. He happily zoomed up and down for a few hours, loving every second. I've never tried kiting in the water before either but I'm much more of a beginner than him so I had a go at dragging along on my stomach without the board. It was kind of like body boarding without the board or the waves, and it was awesome fun. Although I refuse to do it again without booties - I stood on a heap of sea cucumbers, got spiked by something painful and later on had to dig a chunk of shell out of Garth's foot. So we need booties.

I'm trying to get the food situation under control for this next passage. I'm useless under way because of the whole seasick situation, which means Garth does all the cooking. Except he decides he couldn't be bothered and then we don't eat. So this time before we left I spent a day cooking up a storm. It's still hard for him to heat up food underway, but at least it should be easier than whipping something up from scratch. We've got a few servings of tuna sauce to go over pasta and something resembling Annabelle's pie burgers in filo pastry because that's the only kind of pastry they seem to sell in Noumea. I made a heap of Hawaiian triangles with the pastry as well, and two containers of undressed coleslaw because that's the only kind of salad I could think to make ahead of time. So we have enough food for the whole trip and if we catch a fish we'll just eat two cooked meals a day instead of one. Hopefully that will make life easier. We're actually organised for once!

Also, if anybody is interested (Mark!) the eyes I painted on the bow are still there, and they're pretty much the best things ever. When we're anchored and there's a wake or a few waves, the eyes bob up and down in the water, all red and awesome. When we're coming in from shore on the dinghy they really stand out - our boat is definitely staring down all the scary things out there and keeping us safe. I think they'll actually stay on longer than the rest of the antifoul... I did not skimp on the paint!

Xxx Monique

[Video - Garth kiting 1]

[Video - Garth kiting 2]

[Video - Garth kiting 3]

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