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Friday, October 30, 2009

Oct 17 - 24, 2009 - Noumea, New Caledonia

The exodus continued each day as we bid farewell to many dear friends who were departing for Australia. In the meantime, we were on a mission to find a venue somewhere in Noumea to watch our beloved Denver Broncos play the San Diego Chargers in Monday Night Football. Frank inquired everywhere we went around town and his request was often met with a glazed over look from the locals - what was he talking about? What is Monday Night Football, and why does he want to watch it on Tuesday at 11:30 AM? What is ESPN? Ha! It was pretty funny. He was not to be denied and continued the quest until he found that there is a casino outside of town at the Meridian Resort that may have cable/satellite TV. So we jumped on a bus Tuesday morning, along with all the locals, taking it to the end of the line. We walked into the casino to find nothing but blinking and flashing slot machines. In the middle of the room was a small snack bar with plastic tables and chairs - this was a high dollar outfit! There were video monitors suspended down from the ceiling on two sides, playing New Caledonia's version of VH-1. Frank walked around asking anyone who may understand a little English if there was a place in the casino to watch American Football on ESPN. They again didn't seem to know what we were talking about, so finally a man came along who thought he could help us out. He took us to a manager who went behind a locked door into a control room. After flipping the channel several times to various soccer games, watching us as we shook our heads telling him "American Football…ESPN", behold he found the game! We were the only people in the snack bar at the time so the manager switched two of the four screens to our game. We were in Heaven! It was like we had a private viewing room, but with the bells and whistles of slot machines in the background - there was no sound, just the audio but we didn't care. And the Broncos won! It was nearly the best part of our visit in Noumea!

Afterward we walked for a few kilometers along the beach road, watching kite surfers and surf sailors. This is a haven for those sports and the masses were out! It was a pretty day, so we strolled over to the famous Aquarium for a visit. It was well worth the price for admission. Finally we caught another bus back to the marina. That night we had invited Tanja and Bernd from "Upps" over for dinner. I must say I fixed a superb fresh prawn curry dish that was a huge hit. I hope I can remember how I prepared it so I can do it again. The local prawns here are outstanding.

Most of our time in Noumea was spent getting the boat ready for departure , getting laundry sent out and having dinners with friends. Noumea houses a vast seafood market just a block from the marina, and then next to that is an even larger fresh foods (fruits, veggies, etc.) market and then next to that is another market for jewelry, clothing, shells, hand crafts - you name it. There were even several French pastry and coffee shops. We really liked Noumea and would have enjoyed spending more time here, and probably will next year if we pass this way again. I was able to refill some of my prescriptions and get other medications for far cheaper than back in the States, so we restocked some of our med supplies at the local pharmacy.

Wednesday night we all gathered at the yacht club for a passage briefing and steak dinner. This one is a "real" yacht club. The Port Captain and his wife were invited, and seated at the table with Frank and I, so we had to behave. The plan was set for our departure on Friday, when we were to check out of the country, after which we could receive our duty-free fuel, and then be on our way to NZ. Fortunately, Customs gave us a 36-hour departure window, because conditions were not good for a Friday departure, AND we do not generally leave port for any passage on a Friday (sailors superstition). So we fired off goodbye emails to friends and family and had an early night to bed. Saturday at 6 AM we left the dock. First stop was the fuel dock to top off the tanks. If all went well, we planned a stop mid-way to New Zealand at a small Australian territory called Norfolk Island, three ½ days out.

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