On 6 July we were anchored in Kuto Bay, Ile des Pins. That evening we hosted a very fun potluck aboard ADAGIO with fellow cat cruisers from TE HARINUI (New Zealand) and AHU (Austria).
It looked like the Southwesterly front had about blown itself out, with light-moderate SE trades expected to build on the 7th. We had been looking for an opportunity to sail up to the Loyalty Islands so we decided to take advantage of the change.
The morning of 7 July we sailed for the Loyalties, expecting we could make Ouvea in an overnight passage of roughly 24 hours. By 1250 we made our way around the south end of Ile des Pins through Passe Ndjua (which can be absolutely horrible if you attempt it with wind-against the 4kn tidal currents). Our timing was good, so it was just moderately bumpy in the 13kn SE’ly and about 2M swell left from the last frontal system.
By 1300 we had cleared Passe Ndjua and set our favorite downwind sails: reacher and Solent Jib as twin headsails. Our log entry said
“Gybe onto port. Beautiful, puffy cumulus clouds all around. Isle of Pines Oro Bay to port. Pic Nga in the distance”. (Pic Nga is the highest peak on the island)”
The run to Ouvea was happily uneventful, though we were wishing for more wind. Before nightfall we were motorsailing with reacher and the port engine at 2250rpm. At 0243 Dorothy logged:
“A quiet night. Watching for ships. The golden crescent moon just rose in the east, looking like the Cheshire cat’s smile. 48.8 nm and 8 hours to Ouvea.”
At 1144 on 8 July we entered the Ouvea Lagoon via Passe Du Coetlogon, and by lunch time had dropped the hook near the Hotel Paradis d’Ouvea by the village of Lekiny. We joined two other catamarans, SEA TRAIL and REHAB, both of which had sailed on by sunrise the next morning.
ADAGIO and ALLEGRO were quite photogenic, floating in the crystal clear waters of the very blue lagoon. Our obectives were to see the sea turtles and spotted rays that hang out under the bridge to Mouly Island, and to visit the Lekiny Cliffs on the southeast corner of the atoll. Our map showed a route from the lagoon, across the bridge, and along a beach bordering the Hnymek, a vast, shallow channel between the lagoon of the atoll and the open ocean to the southeast. The walk must be made at low tide, when the sand flats are exposed. We were fortunate that the low tide was in the morning, which was calm for best underwater viewing. The spotted rays were out in force, “flying” in formation under the bridge, noses pointed into the outgoing tidal stream. A local fisherman cast his net into the vast school of small fish which were schooling in a long formation along the white sand spit.
In the Ouvea photo gallery take note of the crowds of people on the Lekiny beaches. When we returned to ADAGIO for lunch we noticed that the only footprints on the beach were ours.