A Walk around Kuto Peninsula

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Our favorite walk on the Isle des Pins is at Kuto Peninsula, which follows the shoreline through a forest of Araucaria columnaris pines and pandanus trees, which grow on a base of fossilized coral, many of which are rooted on the tops of ledges jutting out over the water.

During his second voyage in 1774, Captain Cook visited New Caledonia. Jacques Brosse, in his book, Great Voyages of Exploration, 1983, wrote:

“To the south of New Caledonia, he discovered a small island remarkable for its high conifers, which were so crowded together that from a distance they looked like basalt columns. The species belonged to the genus Araucaria, then unknown. These Auracaria columnaris, which measured as high as 70 meters, looked like giant pines, and Cook therefore called the place the Isle of Pines.”

Cook and his carpenter thought these newly discovered trees would be ideal for ships’ masts. On his way to New Zealand, Cook discovered the uninhabited island which he named Norfolk Isle, and on which he discovered the Auracaria tree now called the Norfolk Island pine.

Wikipedia provides the following information:

“Members of Araucaria are found in Chile, Argentina, southern Brazil, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, Australia, and New Guinea. ………. These columnar trees are living fossils, dating back to early in the Mesozoic age. ……… By far the greatest diversity exists in New Caledonia, due to the island’s long isolation and stability.[4]

“It is believed that the long necks of sauropod dinosaurs may have evolved specifically to browse the foliage of the typically very tall Araucaria trees. The global distribution of vast forests of Araucaria during the Jurassic makes it likely that they were the major high energy food source for adult sauropods.[10]”

During our walk, it became obvious that the columnaris pines grow quite well on fossilized coral, and on the windward side of the island. The edible seeds of the trees are similar to our familiar “pine nuts”, and plant themselves plentifully beneath their tall parent trees. Some seedlings were sprouting from holes in fossilized coral heads. Trees felled by the wind quickly decompose and provide soil for the seedlings.

Impressions of many types of coral were clearly visible underfoot. Several small, sandy bays had been carved into the shoreline by the waves, and were filled with white pumice stones which had floated ashore from an ocean volcano many miles away. Patches of living coral colored the water offshore.

The trail ended at the backyard of our friends Cleo and Albert, which is full of convict ruins, and overlooking beautiful Kanumera Bay.

A Drive around Ile des Pins with Cleo

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Generous to us as usual, Cleo carried us in her little white car from her home to Vao for the farmers’ market, and to two of the grocery stores (épiceries) on the island. I was able to re-provision really well, since the supply ship had recently visited the island, and the two weddings on the island were over. The past two weeks had been slim pickings for grocery and produce shoppers like us. Several of the women on the island are excellent gardeners, and sell at the open-air marché: billows of Italian parsley and Cilantro (which the locals call Chinese parsley), just-picked lettuces, interestingly-shaped and delicious tomatoes, tiny carrots still wearing their feathery tops, beautiful white radishes which we grate and serve sprinkled with cream, Bok choy for our Hong Kong fried rice dish, fresh basil to serve with the tomatoes, crisp and curly freshly-picked green beans (haricots verts) and more.

Other women sell: gorgeous papayas, green bananas (so they don’t all ripen on the same day), fresh local escargots if we want them, smoked corn on the cob (which we haven’t tried yet), fresh baguettes (better than what the bakery sells), sometimes fresh fish (which we have not tried for fear of Ciguatera poisoning), occasionally large, black crabs, and several items of produce which we have not yet identified.

At the two épiceries I bought a locally-grown large frozen chicken, a package of our favorite Toulouse sausages, a pack of frozen large pork chops and bell peppers, apples and pears just off the supply ship. We can also buy large purple grapes imported from Australia and lovely French cheeses and sliced ham for our lunchtime sandwiches on the baguettes.

We traveled with Cleo to the airport, where she received six boxes from Noumea containing fabrics for Albert to paint, calendars for 2015, copies of books she has published and more. Ian and Ellen were a great help to Cleo in loading the heavy boxes into the car, and then off loading them at Cleo’s house, and into Albert’s Cinema building.

On the way to and from the airport, we drove through the “plateau” of the island, where the minier soils (Peridotites and Serpentines) support an assortment of plants which are close to 100% endemic, including numerous orchids which we could see. Isolated from other lands, geologically and ecologically, large areas of New Caledonia have these ultrabasic soils, which are nearly completely lacking in phosphorus, potassium and calcium, elements considered as indispensable to plant life. In addition the miniers soils are also rich in nickel, manganese, magnesium and other metals considered toxic to plants.

The adaptation of the flora to these very special conditions has resulted in the multiplication of endemic species, which fortunately are not threatened by invasive species from overseas which cannot tolerate the soils. Many of the endemic plants could not subsist without the help of mycorrhizae fungi or symbiotic bacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil or intervene in the mobilization of certain mineral elements. (Several of these phrases have been translated by me from the book, “Fleurs et plantes de Nouvelle-Calédonia,” Maurice Schmid, Les Editions du Pacific, 2000).

Also unique to the plateau region are the approximately 400 Tumulis. These are mounds of earth, about two to three meters in height and 10 to 15 meters in diameter, covered with shrubbery. Theories about their origin include nesting areas for a large, flightless bird like a New Zealand Moa. Numerous archaeologists have studied them, and there is still no resolution to the question of the origin of these quite ancient mounds.

Steve collected us and our shopping bags in ALLEGRO from the dinghy dock, after I had hailed him on our Motorola family radios.

We arrived back at ADAGIO just before the rain began, enabling us to put the final touches on pre-storm preparations. As it turned out, most of the forecast heavy rain was deflected by Grande Terre and never made it to Ile des Pins. The strong winds forecast did not arrive the following day, and we spent a pleasant day resting, reading and napping.

Steve had been helping Cleo learn about self-publishing resources. She has completed a novel and is putting the finishing touches on a collection of short stories. She has already published several printed books about the Ile des Pins. Deb has been super helpful with advice for Cleo, referring Steve to some of her publishing circle. Our New Zealand writer friend, Eva Brown, has been contributing ideas and sources.

Meanwhile Steve was helping Tony and Brigitte to get the most value from their Mac and iPad. Before long Brigitte had gifted us with a very large pumpkin/squash from her garden.

The following day, the weather was favorable for a passage from Ile des Pins to Noumea, so we enjoyed a pleasant 9-hour sail back to the Big Smoke of Noumea, in time to attend a Festival of the Lagoon near the Port Moselle marina over the weekend. We needed to re-provision with wine and other grocery items that cannot be purchased in Ile des Pins.

Annual Fair at Ile des Pins, 2014

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Over the Pentecost 3-day weekend, the people of the Ile des Pins put on a fun fair, to display their arts, farm products, dances, music, culture and environmental awareness to other New Caledonians (as well as to tourists like us).

About 40 stalls had been set up in the sports grounds near the town of Vao. Each stall was decorated with beautifully woven palm fronds, flowers, shells, fronds woven into birds, turtles, fish and more. Numerous artists displayed their works. Farmers displayed their best Yams (which is a very important part of the tribal culture) and other produce. One stall was selling large black crabs at a good price. Food stalls offered wonderful eats. Groups of children were totally engaged in artfully presented educational materials concerning sea life preservation and protection of the Southern Lagoon of New Caledonia. A stage had been erected with a sound system, and the local dance group performed their traditional dances, accompanied by local musicians playing drums and singing. We enjoyed Tahitian Salad (fresh tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk) and chocolate cake for lunch. We met many interesting locals who showed us their hand made and ornate Ukeleles, seashell jewelery, baskets and designs woven of palm fronds, hand crafted models of traditional outrigger canoes, and other wood carvings. On Sunday there was more dancing, music and even a fireworks display.

After the fair we drove to the beautiful Oure Resort at the far end of Kanumera Bay, to entertain Cleo and Albert in a round of tropical cocktails and enjoyable conversation. As we were departing the hotel, the nearly full moon overhead was encircled by a large “moonbow”. It was spectacular but impossible to photograph. Quite a sight that none of us had seen before. It was the perfect ending to a very pleasant day.

We returned our rental car to the Hotel Kou-Bugny and found our way on foot in the dark, but moon-lit night, to ALLEGRO waiting for us at the dinghy dock, to return us to ADAGIO.

Island Tour in rental car


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It was high time we showed Ellen around the Ile des Pins, and reacquainted ourselves with some of our favorite haunts. We collected our rental car at the lovely Kou-Bugny Hotel, on the waterfront at Kuto Bay, and drove north.

On the NE corner of IDP is the tricky-to-enter Baie d’Oro. Oro Bay also must be exited at the top of high tide, and in suitable weather. So our time inside Oro Bay has been special – listening every night to the seas crashing on the reef protecting the small anchorage.


On the south shore of the bay is the ***** Le Méridien Ile des Pins. This is the real thing – the honeymooner’s dream resort. Not surprisingly, many of the guests are Japanese newly-weds. We stopped there for our first coffee of the day.

There are several limestone caves on the island, and the most accessible one is the Grotto of Queen Hortense. The trail to the entrance of the grotto is through an impressive rain forest of luxuriant tropical vegetation. We were engulfed by beautiful ferns and surrounded by New Caledonian Kaori trees, which are closely related to New Zealand Kauri trees, really tall tree ferns, and enormous vines. The grotto itself is wide open to the forest, with long stalagtites hanging above our heads as we entered. It was in this bat-filled cave where the Kunie Queen Hortense hid during local political upheavals in the 1800’s.

Near the grotto, we heard the unusual song of the New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, called a Notou (Ducula goliath), the largest tree dweller pigeon on earth. The song can only be described as sounding like the fog horn on the Golden Gate Bridge. No kidding.

The Melanesian inhabitants of Ile des Pins call themselves Kunie. Vao is the only town/village on the island, where the Catholic church, farmers’ market, post office, bank, doctor’s office, Mayor’s building and épicerie (small grocery store) are located. Eight tribes are scattered around the island, each living on its own tribal land. When a child is born and grows up, the tribal chief allocates a parcel of land for a house to be built. The Big Chief lives near Vao.

The Kunie language is spoken among the islanders, who also speak French. Europeans on the island serve as teachers, police, medical professionals and air-traffic controllers. The main roads and airport were build by American servicemen during WWII.

As we toured the island, we passed some of the homes where the locals live. It is traditional to build two buildings, one for sleeping quarters and a second for cooking and living areas. Some of the buildings have been built in the traditional manner with conical thatched roofs; others have been built of cinder blocks, and still others are framed in local wooden poles from the native Kohu tree, with woven palm fronds for the walls. Often there is a covered outdoor seating and dining area. Gardens are primarily filled with colorful native plants and tropical flowers, overshadowed by enormous Poinciana trees, or in the shade of a huge Banyan tree with vertical roots plunging down from the horizontal branches.

It is popular to decorate a house with fishing net floats that have been collected from the beaches. All sizes and colors of floats make trees and homes appear to be festooned with glass Christmas ornaments. Gardens are often encircled by large clam shells, and planted in Vanilla bean orchids which climb up the trunks of trees. Papayas, oranges, limes, and mandarins grow abundantly in the casual orchards. Occasionally we would see an enormous Mango tree, covered with thousands of flowers. Every few kilometers we would spot a steer, tied in a pasture to graze, waiting to be the invited to dinner at an upcoming wedding. Farmers’ gardens where men have planted their traditional Yams, beneath banana and papaya trees, could be seen from the road.

At Baie Saint-Maurice, we visited the memorial to the first Marist missionaries who disembarked in the Ile des Pins in 1848, and WWI war memorial. Surrounding the religious statue are many wooden poles that have been carved by members of all of the Kunie tribes on the Ile des Pins. Amusing faces and sea creatures are the primary subjects of the carvings.

Near Kuto Bay, where ADAGIO was anchored, is the Gendarmerie (police station), bakery, a couple of grocery stories, and best of all the Boutique owned by our friends Cleo and Albert, where their home is located. Our friends Tony and Brigitte live there, too, and Tony has his own boutique for wood carvings. These four European friends have lived in Ile des Pins for nearly forty years, have built their own houses, gardens and businesses. Originally founders of the first SCUBA dive resort in New Caledonia, they now make and sell their art and written publications from their two gift shops located near Kuto Bay. We have known them since our first visit to Ile des Pins in year 2000. It is always wonderful to see them, catch up on all of their news and learn more about New Caledonia.This 

Lifou – underwater at Cap Mande

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All of the Loyalty Islands are ancient atolls made of fossilized coral, which have been uplifted numerous times, beginning during the Tertiary, forming a series of platforms in a stair-step arrangement, from the sea up to the center of the island. A platform in the center of the island is the original bottom of the ancient lagoon, and the high cliffs along the shoreline are the ancient fringing coral reefs. The porous fossilized coral is well drained, so there are no streams or rivers, but there is a deep fresh water aquifer beneath Lifou. The island of Ouvea has no aquifer, so the inhabitants get their fresh water from a desalination plant.

Because there is no runoff from the islands, the water is crystal clear and the visibility is in the dozens of meters, making for brilliantly clear, in-focus underwater photos. We piled into our catamaran dinghy ALLEGRO and visited some of the underwater caves located in the lee of the high fossilized coral cliffs south of us. Acres and acres of coral shelves spreading out from the bases of the cliffs, support every kind of hard coral you can imagine, in all colors, shapes and sizes, all in excellent condition. We watched fish we had never seen before, both above the coral shelves and in the deep blue waters surrounding the shelves.

Piroque Sailing in Baie d’Upi

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Over the years of our numerous visits to Ile des Pins, our friend Cleo has been encouraging us to sail aboard a traditional outrigger canoe in the Baie d'Upi, which is otherwise off limits to tourists. During past visits, we have not had such an extended period of fine weather as we are experiencing this year.

Cleo booked the four of us on a piroque owned, built and skippered by a local Kunie man named Momo. On a Saturday, after a quick trip to the Marché, Cleo delivered us to Saint Joseph Bay, where the local fishermen have anchored their outrigger canoes. Just ashore, there were several piroques under construction. We watched Momo as he hoisted his lateen sail and then used a long pole to position the stern of the boat so that we could board without having to wade in water more than about two feet deep.

Momo motored our vessel through a long, shallow, sandy channel to where the bay opened up to reveal a beautiful native forest-lined shoreline surrounding stunning blue water, sparkling in the sunshine. We passed native Heron sitting on its nest that had been built on top of a large rock, surrounded by the clear water. Off in the distance were dozens of large coral islets, that had been undercut by the sea to form mushroom-shapes on the tops of which native shrubbery was luxuriating. The wind filled in from astern and we glided along, with a few other piroques in the distance. The mast and boom of the piroque were made of long, flexible poles from a native tree. The lower end of the boom formed a fork which hooked onto the base of the mast so that it could rotate freely with the sail. The sail was professionally made of modern sail cloth. The sails were lashed to the spars with orange polypropylene line.

Momo steered the boat with a long pole rudder, while he played the sail with a two part tackle resting across his lap. Mount Pic N'ga was visible on the horizon, above the Columnaris pine trees. We sailed close enough to the Mushroom-shaped coral islets to see how perfectly level the seas had carved the bases, presently a few meters above the water level. It was a perfect, fine day with cumulus clouds scattered above and good lighting for our photographs.

After three hours, we returned to St. Joseph Bay, where we boarded our reserved taxi for a quick trip back to Cleo's house to collect our purchases from the Marché, including two fat crabs that Tony was storing for us, during which time one had escaped from its bag and Brigitte had to chase it across her garden.


2009 Holiday Newsletter

Looking south from Cloudy Bay Tasmania — Click image for the full size photo
Cloudy Bay, looking towards West Cloudy Head — Click image for the full size photo

Dorothy and Steve are back in summery New Zealand — five and one-half years and two Pacific crossings since we last sailed out of the Bay of Islands on June 7, 2004 — bound for Tahiti, Hawaii and Alaska. We are kicking up our heels to be sharing anchorages again with dear Bay of Islands friends like Jane and Shelly on MAGIC DRAGON and David and Susan on IMAGINE. So many more friends to catch up with — we’ve just anchored in Pomare Bay in front of our former home on Te Wahapu, hoping to visit with Jeremy and Diana Pope and Matt and Carol Harvey before we shift over to Opua to collect the Weindorf family for our 2009 Christmas adventure. So, what have we been up to this year?

We celebrated the 2008 holiday season with our daughter, Kim, son-in-law, Alan, and wonderful grandchildren, David (age 12) and Sarah (age 9). In January we flew to Hobart, Tasmania for their Summer Festival, many visits with friends, the Australia Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart, the Australian TROPFEST film festival, the Folk Music Festival, Ten Days on the Island, and more.

March found us back in California for more fun with Kim and her family, including a long weekend in Yosemite National Park and lots of bicycling. ADAGIO needed a new bottom job, and the best place to haul her out for new bottom paint was a boat yard located in the Napa Valley. We enjoyed views of the surrounding vineyards from ADAGIO as she was perched high above the marine railway. We enjoyed some, but too few sails around San Francisco Bay — certainly one of the finest sailing venues on planet Earth.

By the end of June ADAGIO was provisioned and ready to sail for Hawaii. Fellow OCC sailor Shaun Peck (Victoria, BC) joined us on the Hawaii passage, so ADAGIO sailed once again under the Golden Gate Bridge on June 30, with our daughter and grandchildren watching us on the Exploratorium webcam.

On July 12, we arrived in Oahu, Hawaii, after a comfortable and fun passage. Shaun immediately joined a committee of volunteers in Honolulu to help out with the finish of the 2009 Transpac Race.

On July 16, ADAGIO’s population increased again when we were joined by Leo Foley, commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania (Hobart, Tasmania), and fellow OCC sailors Penelope and George Curtis (Oxfordshire, UK). On July 23rd we found the passage weather we wanted to depart for New Caledonia. August 15th, after 23 days at sea, we arrived in New Caledonia. We seem to have partied all the way, with such good company aboard, making for short watches, assistance sailing the boat and help in the galley. We enjoyed showing our crew our favorite places in New Caledonia, even visiting our friends Cleo and Albert in the isle of Pines.

We enjoyed cruising New Caledonia through August, then in September we circumnavigated New Caledonia’s “big island”, Grande-Terre. We believe that the best way to see this country is by boat. The coastal areas are very beautiful, and the coastal towns are quite varied, as is the scenery.

On October 10, our Australian friends, Ian and Andrew, arrived to join us for the New Zealand passage. We had time to take them sailing, to practice “pulling the strings.” They were an enormous help with the pre-passage preparations, including repairs of a few bits we broke between San Francisco and Newcal. While we waited patiently for NZ passage weather we spent as much time as we could enjoying the beautiful Isle of Pines, including visits with our local friends, and with new cruising friends aboard other boats lucky enough to make it to Ile des Pins.

Halloween, October 31, we sailed out of New Caledonia, and arrived in New Zealand on November 6. Head seas were bumpy for the first couple of days, but comfortable after that. We had a week to show Ian and Andrew around the Bay of Islands, before they returned to Australia. Bay of Islands marine businesses entertained cruisers as they arrived from numerous islands in the South Pacific. We met cruisers from many different countries, and spent social hours getting to know them.

As you can tell, we are just a “box of fluffy ducks” being back in enZed, where ADAGIO was launched 9 years ago. We have begun exploring the islands of Urpukapuka, Moturua, Roberton, and the Te Pahi Islands, finding good beaches, coves, caves, hiking trails and fishing spots to show to our grandchildren when they arrive on December 23 for a 10-day visit.

Stay well and let us know how you are and where you are — and let us know if you have changed your email address!

Best wishes, Big hugs, and Best of Luck in the New Year

Dorothy and Steve

S/V ADAGIO, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Steve and Dorothy at the Pa site lookout atop Roberton Island, Bay of Islands

New Caledonia to New Zealand: a full moon passage

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For the passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand we were joined by fellow Cruising Yacht Club of Tasmania members/former officers Andrew Boon and Ian Turnbull. Andrew and Ian arrived at Ile des Pins on 11 October, so they were able to make a big contribution to our happy passage, not least helping us get ADAGIO ready to sail again.

For three weeks our passage weather challenge has been the forecasted headwinds on our track to New Zealand. Usually we like high pressure in the Tasman Sea, provided the HI center moves on along to the east. This is because, as the HI center approaches it brings headwinds to the north half of the passage. Then as the high moves off it brings favorable winds for the beginning of the passage. Very, very roughly, in October before the equinox, it could be a good time to sail out of Newcal when the HI center reaches a position north of NZ North Cape (at a latitude midway between Newcal and NZ). A fast boat like ADAGIO has a chance of keeping pace with a “typical HI” to avoid the headwinds and gales of the next approaching Tasman system.

Our problem has been a series of slow moving and intense Tasman Sea high pressure systems. As we watched eagerly for a high to move off we would see the models predicting a replacement high emerging off the Australian coast around 32S. The models were right. The result was the Tasman Sea high pressure was being continuously refurbished and was not moving east as we wished. In early October we also had the challenge of forecasted southeasterly (i.e., headwind) gales developing in the 30-34S zone approaching NZ. Both factors kept coloring the weather outlook “unfavorable” for our NZ passage.

Finally, on October 30th our routing discussions with Rick Shema indicate coming relief from the headwinds. We decide to sail on the 31st, expecting about a day of headwinds turning more westerly and beamy. We just hope the winds do not also go too light on us if the angles deepen as predicted. The good news is the Tasman looks like it will fill with high pressure – so if the winds do go light on us we are unlikely to encounter on-the-nose gales approaching North Cape. When highs are moving smartly across the Tasman that is a very possible development — the first 2/3 of the passage has favorable winds, then the next high system kicks up southerly quadrant headwinds in the NZ “approach zone”.

Before heading out of Noumea, given the lightish wind outlook, we loaded 1,100 litres of diesel to make darn sure we have enough fuel to motor or motorsail through any light winds.

The first part of the passage is going to be a beat, sailing as high as we can stand, as we want to preserve decent downwind angles in the second half of the passage. If we slide off too far to the west, then we are likely to be sailing dead-downwind in less than 10kn.

Andrew and Ian overcame their seasickness the first couple of days with sheer determination. By the morning of 2 November the wind is down in the low teens, and the seas are down from 3 meters to 2 meters, so life aboard is more comfortable. Soon we will be fishing, enjoying moonlight silver seas, spotting the Wandering Albatross and meteorites burning up and a bit of playing with the dolphins.

By 4 November Ian is feeling eager to go to the top of the mast to investigate a rythmic squeak — diagnosed as the reacher halyard sheave (a bumpy trip in that seaway but fortunately no major bruises). Earlier on the 4th Ian had logged “All quite on the floating restaurant. Can recomend the banana cake.”

This will be a rare-for-ADAGIO full moon passage. The official full moon will be about the half-way point on 3 November. So long as the skies are clear we should have some glorious night watches!

October 31, 2009: After enjoying Ilot Maitre we had a reasonable weather outlook for the passage to New Zealand. We hoisted the mainsail at 0737 and began beating towards Amedee Light, which marks the primary reef pass into New Caledonia’s western lagoon.

Following are excerpts from the ADAGIO log.

0737 Depart for New Zealand. We hoisted our mainsail while still attached to the mooring buoy. Andrew, Ian and Steve pushed two of the three lower battens further into the sail to get rid of the wrinkles. Worked like a charm.

0930 Tacking to Amedee Light , Passe de Boulari. Sailing freeish at apparent wind angle (AWA) 42 tacking through bit less than 90 deg.

1049 DAY 1: Passage New Caledonia to New Zealand: Clear of Passe de Boulari (south) now off soundings. Impressive reef breaks both sides, especially to port.

1110 Wind has backed a LOT. We’re steering to apparent wind angle (AWA) 45 in 19kn true wind. Now bashing into head seas to Ricks AP1. First reef in main plus jib.

1147 Wind has eased slightly and veered 20 deg. Small squall ahead might be responsible for this. Seas over the windows which are wonderfully clear due to Rain-X treatment by crew. We saw a lone gannet circling the boat. We can see a catamaran ahead to leeward. Tried hailing MIND THE GAP, but no answer. The boat is bucking like a bronco. Ian freed the std jib tweaker line that was jammed under the machinery space hatch, at the hinge.

1245 After we passed through the small squall with a little rain, our true wind speed (TWS) picked up and veered more. Seas up the front windows and some down the steps into the cockpit. This might be the best wind we have the entire passage. It would be more cofortable if the seas would go down, as forecast for tomorrow.

1310 The sloop BRETON hailed us as we passed under them. Also enroute OPUA (French accent, good English). BRETON is 35-40ft sailing 5-10 deg higher than Adagio, but at least a knot slower. NOTE: we never saw or heard of BRETON in New Zealand. They may have been turned back by the bashing.

1443 Seas continue to build, ride is getting noticeably rougher. It’s tempting to crack off 5 or 10 degrees, which we will do if it gets much rougher. Our average course over ground (COG) for the past 2 hours is 188 deg. as header (veering) tendency seems to have stabilized around 120 deg magnetic.

1754 I came up 10 deg as the seas have eased a bit, and the course was going too far west. Ian trimmed the sails. This got us back on course. The sun is setting.

2104 Requesting new GFS model for 4 days, just for the immediate area. Seas still rough, but down a bit (to 2.5?) from 1600 hours.

2138 No ship targets on AIS nor radar targets within a range of 36 nm.

2245 Wind has backed a lot – around to 87 deg. Wind speed trend is down.

November 1, 2009

0040 DAY 2

0103 The moon is almost full. Lovely. We have been experiencing some big wave washes, and underwing slams earlier in the day. Calmer tonight.

0206 Wind is back up a bit as is boat speed.

0646 Around 0300 wind rose to 23 true wind speed (TWS) to 28 apparent wind speed (AWS) –> sea state built up until we were ocean walloping again. So we cracked off 10 deg to reduce banging.

0911 Speed over ground (SOG) is frequently 10 kts or more, but mostly around 9-9.5 kts. Seas are still up, and a beautiful dark blue. Sky looks like a Dutch sky, all types of clouds. We need to keep a close watch on the wet towels under the leaking front window portlight behind the Azimuth compass. Andrew said that water came down onto the nav station table top near the engine keys. He has been wringing out the white towel that is catching the drip. I added a couple more towels.

0930 193 nm from 0930 to 0930 (first day). I closed the back door because salt spray was coming in. Water was washing down the backs of the cockpit seats next to the winches, and out the scuppers to the floor of the cockpit. Water cascades down the cockpit stairs. SOG hits 11 kts from time to time. Occasional Very Big underwing slams.

1049 195 nm from 1049 to 1049 second day. Had to estimate log at 1049 from last entry at 0911.

1538 Set full main, retrimmed for best close hauled velocity made good (VMG). Got new wx model and did new optimal routings — We want to sail high and fast then tack on stbd when we are headed about 1102 afternoon.

1651 8kn SOG after full main wind increased to 14 kn range – thought it was just a cloud overhead but the lift and windspeed have persisted.

1731 TWS increases and decreases. More squalls ahead, so we might pick up some speed again soon. I put away our New Caledonia and Pacific islands charts, and got out our New Zealand charts. The nearly full moon is off to port, white against a powder blue sky.

November 2, 2009

0047 DAY 3 All quiet

0121 Beautiful moon-lit night. Baro is up again. Seas have decreased with the decreasing wind speed. 650 nm to the Bay of Islands

0501 Pilot 2 back to ECON. Wind down to TWS 10, seas down to mostly swell.

0602 Motorsailing on port engine at 2200 rpms.

0850 3 birds flew past. Rain cells about 9 nm.

1011 A gentler motion over the seas this morning, in bright sunshine. Ian and Andrew are setting up our fishing line. Yesterday a fish took the hooks. ETA Opua 5 Nov 2135 hrs.

1200 I tested sail only with no engine, trimmed main+jib to 40 deg – only managed about 4 ot 5kn or 50% of polar.

1248 Tacked onto STBD, furled jib. Strapped main in for about AWA 25 => pilot on AWA 26. Switch to STBD engine 2400 rpms to balance helm.

1652 Motoring. Seas going down.

1816 Sunset. No green flash, but very orange sky. Rick’s latest email message says to expect no wind for the remainder of the voyage. There are swells from the ESE.

2107 Stunning full moon to port about 45° altitude.

Adagio echart enroute NZ from Newcal

November 3, 2009

0059 DAY 4

0121 Change in TWD. We are into the westerlies. A silver night with moonlight shining on the clouds and water. 474 nm to North Cape, NZ.

0241 Occasional showers; gentle swells. Yesterday Andrew spotted several seabirds, and then we saw what might have been an albatross — very long wings and soaring above the wave tops.

0517 Wind up to 15 kn over the past 3 hours. Set reacher only.

0627 Trim reacher fro AWA 90 deg.

0655 Try steering to AWA 95 deg – seems to pay off adding 0.5 to 1kn in boat speed.

1148 Wind has veered again –>> about 5 to 6 deg off course. Will retrim for deeper angle.

1155 Retrimmed to AWA 110 as wind veers.

1429 Now through the squall line, wind dropped from 18 kn to 8 kn, backed 50 deg – so far. Furled reacher, tried jib, but had to steer 10 -15deg low of course. Probably made a little VMG as jib added about .5 to .9kn

1648 No more rain, quietly motoring.

1716 8.3kn boat speed. We unfurled the reacher and turned off the engine, then headed off 10 deg to port. Nice speed, and quiet. Beautiful clouds in a blue sky. An albatross just flew past our port side.

1810 Switched pilot to AWA 65 deg – seem to have about .7 to 1.0 kn foul current. Data trend indicates veering continues + increasing TWS.

1850 While Andrew on HF radio, we experienced another pilot glitch while steering to wind angle.

2033 Squeak at masthead. Stopped by unloading reacher by steering off.

2127 Just saw meteor burning out at about 1 o’clock or bearing 100 deg magnetic.

2241 Wind down to 6 kts speed down to 3 kts. Furled reacher.

November 4, 2009

0049 DAY 5 All quiet. No fish, no meteorites.

0108 Full moon off our port quarter — big and beautiful. Seas are down. Sky clouding up ahead. Easy going on this beautiful night, motoring along towards NZ . 319 nm to North Cape.

0405 All quite on the floating restaurant. Can recomend the banana cake.

0638 Changed pilot to 113 as currents change.

0851 Several albatross seen

0945 266 nm to North Cape, NZ. Light winds and swell just forward of our starboard beam. Blue sky with a mix of clouds. A quiet morning. Ian and Andrew are setting out several fishing lines, determined to catch something. Andrew was listining to Australian radio when I came on watch. He has prepared a list of frequencies for us to refer to. Higher frrequencies best in the morning. Lower frequencies at night. Last night Adrew tuned into Tas Coast Radio, and he gave our position report, and spoke to John Cerruty on ARIEL who are CYCT members. They are currently in Pittwater, having sailed from SE Asia, and are on theri way home to Hobart.

1045 Set reacher at AWA 60 deg. Halyard squeaks are back, of course.

1117 Ian going up the mast to inspect the reacher halyard and take photos.

1355 Furl reacher; back to port engine

1652 All quiet, no fish but a beautiful afternoon.

1841 Got a fish on port Shimano but lost it when drag increased.

1941 Current is setting our course to stbd.

November 5, 2009

0047 DAY 6 All quiet. Wind indicator doing 360s. Radio Australia on HF M Ch 59-79 incl.

0507 Wind has veered to dead downwind (DDW) , at 10 kts; now useless.

0854 Motor off, reacher and jib set. Our friends aboard Mind The Gap are 15 M astern, Southern Sky 30 M E.

0959 Getting ready to swap reacher for chute, spinnaker.

1041 Crew voted to keep with the reacher and jib. We gybed both, and are wing on wing with reacher on stb gybe. ETA for BOI is tomorrow 6 Nov., 1100 hours.

1226 Wind veered so furled jib and left reacher alone. Mind the gap 11 miles behind with full main and spinnaker doing 6.9kts in just 11 kts breeze.

1316 Set jib + reacher.

1700 Peaceful afternoon. Jib and reacher. Put VMC voice weather frequencies into Kenwood HF radio, ch 84-89.

1735 We were sailing about 5deg high of course – but after adjusting AWA too deep – try 111.

2105 35 nm from North Cape

November 6, 2009

0110 DAY 7: Wind refuses to back! Jib and reacher, dead down wind.

0125 Rain showers came up from astern. Misty. No need to rinse the salt off the sails when we are in port.

0154 The wind is backing steadily, allowing us to clear North Cape by 1-1/2 to 2 nm.

0226 I furled the jib and trimmed in the reacher, altering course to Taheke Roc waypoint. North Cape is 1 nm abeam to starboard. Wind continues to back.

0255 Wind backed suddenly about 90 degrees as we rounded North Cape. Furled the reacher and set the jib.

0316 Port engine at 1600 rpms. Needed to run the genset anyway. Need to hoist the main but will wait for Steve’s watch.

0517 After clearing North Cape the wind snapped down to SW 190 deg magnetic. We set main 2nd reef + jib steering AWA 50 deg. Ian and Andrew landed a nice Wahoo fish, and Ian filleted it. We ate all of it before making landfall.

0528 Cracked off to AWA 58 to lay Cavalli Islands on course of 128T – ride is much better now with main at 2nd reef

0827 Ship (bulk carrier?) at 4.4nm 74mg on AIS and radar.

0906 Main to full hoist.

1346 Cavalli Islands to starboard

1414 Turn for Ninepin – caught another barracuda but it got off taking the skirted lure Andrew bought for us

1613 Ninepin – furl the main

0752 DAY 7: Landfall New Zealand. We arrived at Opua Marina at 1800 hrs on Friday 6 Nov, just at the Twilight race was starting. The race boats sailed past going out as we were coming into the harbor. Great photos. The 18 ft skiff was leading. Customs and Immigration had closed. We were the only boat on the Customs Dock, but by morning there were 8 others. On Saturday morning we were processed with no dramas, and moved to an end tie on E dock. David Radtke came to wave hello on Friday, and deliver our mail to the marina office. Steve visited Alan and Pauline Legge while Dorothy shopped for food in Paihia with Lorna from Mind the Gap. We invited David and Susan aboard for dinner on Sunday night.

2022 We anchored in Waipiro Bay, just off the port quarter of MAGIC DRAGON. Jane and Shelly came aboard ADAGIO for coffee and bickies, then at 1800 hours we went aboard MAGIC DRAGON for champagne and nibbles. We caught up on a lot of news and stories.

Noumea: ADAGIO at Maitre Islet

Click the thumbnail for photo gallery

ADAGIO is on a mooring on the leeward side of Maitre Islet, just 3 nautical miles from Noumea. Our South African friends, James and Lorna on their cat MIND THE GAP are here as well. The island is a marine reserve with a small resort. Like other resorts we have visited in New Caledonia, the Coral Palms resort looks sort of empty, although there were occupants in several of the bungalows built over the water with a ladder going down into the water from each unit.

We went ashore yesterday to explore and walk on the beach. An osprey family had built a nest on the flattened top of a columnaris pine. One osprey was soaring, a second was in the nest, and a third osprey was perched on the top of another columnaris pine. There was much communication going on, and lovely soaring.

As we walked around the resort grounds, we found numerous petrel burrows. Like the shearwaters in Tasmania, which migrate 15,000 kilometers to the Arctic and 15,000 km back to Tasmania each year, these birds are fattening up for the breeding months. This morning we snorkeled over to the nearby reef which is between ADAGIO and the shore, and followed lots of big, colorful fish around. We saw a medium sized clam with leopard spotted lips, long-spined black sea urchins, and lovely coral. I’m looking forward to snorkeling again tomorrow. We built a dive flag float by attaching our flag to one of our dinghy fenders and hanging weights from the bottom of the fender. It worked great!

Rick Shema, ADAGIO’s weather router, emailed that November 1st or 2nd is shaping up for a possible departure to New Zealand. Steve has been studying the weather models and evaluating Maxsea routings. The 2nd looks the best right now.

There are several other boats here – some locals, some waiting to sail to New Zealand or Australia. A young family is aboard the sailing catamaran named TRAVELER that is moored next to us. We thought they were French, until the young man/owner dinghied over this morning to ask if we needed any groceries from town. He said that he was going to town to get some baguettes and croissants for his family. I said, yes, we would like some, too, as well as some eggs and bananas. He is one of the kite-boarders that sail every afternoon on the windward side of the island. It turns out that they are from Vancouver, Canada, and have been in NewCal for 18 months. Their little boy was born here. Small world.

All is well. We are having a relaxed time, with our crew learning how to load their digital photos into Lightroom on our computer, for cropping and editing. We have quite a gallery developing with our four cameras shooting…