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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oct 12 - 16, 2009 - Baie de Prony & Noumea - Saying Sad Goodbyes!

We left Ils des Pins on Oct 12th, headed northwest for Baie de Prony, which is located on the southernmost part of Grand Terre, New Caledonia's main and largest island. The Gribs (raw weather data) had indicated we would have a good day of sailing. Gribs are often not what they seem. The winds were very light, but we had a nice motor-sail journey, arriving around 3 PM. This area is known for its red soil. In fact the soil is so red that you will not get it out of your clothing or off your shoes. The topography is vastly different than anything we have seen outside the USA. The bay is very large, tranquil and looks like a lake in either North East Texas or Georgia, with red clay hills all around and water that is rather brown - not clear. Not blue. It is not what we would call attractive by South Pacific standards, but held another kind of beauty. It was peaceful! The only sounds we would hear were for three days were hundreds of birds - not chirping or screeching, but singing melodiously morning and evening, and fish jumping and splashing, causing ripples and ringlets across the waters. The water was calm, and if the sun hit it right on a clear day you could see mountains of delicate stag horn coral just underneath the surface off to the sides of our boat. Anchoring is dicey because of the delicate bottom, and we only anchored in depths marked far clear of the coral areas.

We took this opportunity to work on deck, polishing and cleaning. Then while Frank finished around the outer hull, I got down to some serious scrubbing of floors and lockers inside. We were getting Destiny ready for passage.

We had been in touch with Morning Light, thinking that they were leaving Noumea around the 18 or 20th for Australia. So we spent 3 blissful days in Baie de Prony, but then we received an email from them indicating they had a "weather window" much sooner and would probably leave on Thursday the 15th! Early AM on Thursday we made tracks for Noumea in a desperate attempt to arrive before they left port. We arrived around noontime and managed to catch them on the VHF 16. They were still here. There was no room in the marina so we anchored in the next bay over. They had decided to leave very early the next day instead. We were thrilled! After getting settled and having lunch we dingied over to see them. We spent the rest of the afternoon together and then had a farewell dinner with them and Dave and Jan from "Baraka". Afterward Frank and I walked Jaime and Christine back to their boat and had a teary goodbye. They tried one more time to convince us to come with them to OZ and we made a final attempt to change their minds as well. At the end of it all we hugged and vowed to make plans to see one another many more times wherever we are. Friends for life.

On the 16th, they departed early in the morning. We hailed them on VHF 16 when we awakened at 7:00. They were already far outside the reef pass, but still within range. We bid them fair winds and following seas. At around 8:00 AM we called the marina and were given a berth - it was the one vacated by our dear friends! We got settled in and went to shore to get set up with the marina, get an internet card, and take care of general business. It was nice to be on shore power again and to have the convenience of the marina.

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