Circumnavigating Grande Terre: Heinghene to Ile Pam

September 22, 2009 0700 am: At 0557 in Hienghene we logged “anchor up for Baie de Pam”. Now underway, dense groves of coconut palms and mangroves line the shore, with occasional cottage or waterfall, carving white ribbons in the black rocks between the trees. The mountains plunge down to the sea, leaving a fringe of land for the road, palms and cottages. Our position is due NE of the mouth of the Ouaieme River. Sky is overcast. Seas are down except for the swell coming through the pass to the east. ETA Baie de Pam is 1430 hrs. Sun is trying to break through the clouds, a little drizzle this morning. Steve set the fishing lure.

September 22, 2009 0800 am: We just sailed by Mount Panie’ – the highest in New Caledonia (1628m). Here the mountains are all right next to the coastline. Very pretty – though as typical the peaks are in the clouds. We still have cell phone coverage. There’s a waterfall streaming in ribbons from the top of Mount Panie’. This is where the Special botanical reserve is located. The forest appears to be dense and healthy.

We seem to be the only cruising boat on the entire east coast. It is a bit spooky. We were in Hienghene for 2 days, birthplace of Tjibaou, and home to the first Kanak Cultural Center in NC. The town has been outfitted with modern, fancy docks for the cruise ship shore boats to land – on both sides of the river. No cruise ships, no cruisers. The village feels like a ghost town, especially on Sunday when very few locals are about.

The chief who controls Ile des Pins (the southern part) banned cruise ships due to swine flu worries. Not sure about this area – perhaps it is another casualty of the global financial crisis.

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