Thursday, 2 November 2017

Sailing New Caledonia - Peaks and Troughs


Peaks and Troughs

As our New Caledonia adventures draw to a close, I was wondering how best to describe our range of experiences.

Those who have looked at our Easy Tiger Sailing around Australia blog site will see that our track over the past three months looks like a blob of Spaghetti dobbed on the southwest corner of New Caledonia.

While it doesn’t look like we have ventured very far, I must say that this is because the huge lagoon formed by the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world is so full of life, colour and beauty that we just simply haven’t had time to venture too far out of this wonderland.

There are many islands in this lagoon. Most are small, flat and have a few metres of beach. So going for a long walk involves two or three laps around the island. The appeal of these small islands is that they all have extensive reefs surrounding them, that are truly beautiful to snorkel and dive in and around.

The bigger islands generally consist of steep hills. These are mostly topped with either a navigational light or a lighthouse.

Exploring these “peaks and troughs” of this place has been a delight. By that I mean that we have hiked to the top of a few of the step hills and we have snorkel dived the reefs of the islands.

Our first venture up to a peak, was during the time we were anchored in bay Carenage at the end of the Bay de Prony. After a wild dinghy ride down the bay, we trekked to Prony village. Luckily we started with the easiest trek as our boat legs hadn’t done much walking for a few months and were certainly burning after scaling the long hill.

The second hike up a hill was at the Isle Casy. We should have been lead on that adventure by the islands' sole inhabitant, a dog called Moose, but it seemed he was having a day off.

Marvellous views on offer on the tour of Isle Casy

A visit to Isle Mato when it was too windy to snorkel the reef there saw us tackle the very steep climb to the summit. I say it was a climb because we were on all fours at times getting up as well as coming down. Except for when Amanda saw a snake. Then there were no limbs at all touching the ground for a second or two.

Then when we were in Anse MAjic, some one suggested we go up to the Cape Ndua lighthouse and take in the view. While not as steep as isle Mato, it was considerably further, along the very red dirt tracks. The view from up there was absolutely spectacular. The bluest of ocean, dotted with dark green islands and light green submerged reef systems with a backdrop of dark red hillsides made every angle postcard material.

From the Cape Ndua Lighthouse every direction offers a postcard Vista

During our second visit to Isle de Pins, we tackled the walk to Pic Nga. That one had the steep sections like Isle MAto and was even further than The Cape Ndua Lighthouse “stroll”. We were all huffing and puffing and doubting we would make it to the top before we reached a quarter of the way up.

The crew were very happy to be at the top of Pic for the trek down

Fortunately we all made it to the top albeit breathlessly. That didn’t help much because the views from Pic Nga over Kuto bay were breathtaking. A cruise ship in the bay, the fast ferry at the dock and our catamarans sitting in the turquoise water followed by the many pine trees standing tall on the rolling hills makes a vista worth the tired legs, blisters and sore joints.

On the other end of the altitude scale has been the snorkeling. Highlights of this activity include the coral around the drop offs and chasms at Gadji, the numerous colourful clown fish (or nemos) at Isle Uaa, the turtles and other creatures in abundance in the sanctuary of Signal Island and the big fish lazing under our boats at Amedee. 

The fish and creatures at Signal island made great snorkelling

Great Snorkelling spot out front of the resort at Isle Maitre too.
There may not have been a circumnavigation of the main island Grand Terre. There wasn’t much time spent in the capital in Noumea and the East Coast remains unvisited by us, but what we have done is explore the lagoon area top to bottom.

All of us that have been here agree that it will remain on our bucket list to return to New Caledonia hopefully in a couple of years. Perhaps then we may venture further, but we all say that would need an extended visa. Till then we know that got the most out of  our visits to the peaks and troughs of New Caledonia’s lagoon.


  1. I’m wondering if you would discuss the Fusion 40’s sailing qualities. How well does it point? Does it bounce over or plow through waves. Is it a rough ride? Under what conditions? Does it sit steady at anchor?

    I’m also wondering if you would discuss quality of life aboard? How much headroom do you have? Does enough air move through the boat to keep you cool?

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