We’re finally on our way to Australia, but our stay in New Caledonia stretched out from a few days (planned) to almost three weeks (definitely not planned). The primary reason was the weather, and our desire to make the final leg to Australia in good conditions.
Fundamentally, there are a couple of ways to deal with this unwanted delay. One is to get very frustrated thinking about all the things waiting for us in Sydney- the things that need to be organized, the plans for our future that can’t be worked out until we are there. For a few days, I did a pretty good job of being grumbly on that front and willing the weather to bend to my desire. Not terribly productive.
The other way is to simply accept the reality we are given, and make the best of the situation. At one point, I had the epiphany that I had to simply declare that we were on vacation. Other than last minute bottom cleaning, the boat was basically ready to go. There are always projects, but nothing was essential. The best antidote for fretting is to chuck it all and go have fun!
Since we hadn’t expected to have any time to enjoy New Caledonia, so we didn’t really know what to do at first. Thankfully, this is an easy “problem” to solve. We have had a blast spending time with friends we’ve known across the Pacific. We’ve been inseperable from IO for months, of course. We’ve known FlyAweigh since our days in the La Cruz marina in Mexico as well, but ever since we checked out of the country the same morning in Puerto Vallarta, we’ve usually been an island group behind them. We met the kid boats Merlin and Victoria in French Polynesia, and periodically reunited kid packs from among our flock.
Adventure #1 was the aquarium field trip blogged last week. At that point, we still thought we were mere days from departure. Ha! Another week was in store. No problem- it was just time to get out of the smelly marina (pipes dumping raw sewage emptied right at the top of the dock… nice). The lagoon, on the other hand, was spectacular. I cannot being to describe the brilliant shades of blue, from turquoise to periwinkle.
For most of a week, we anchored off an islet named Maitre. The only structures onshore were part of a lovely resort. Happily, they welcomed cruisers as long as we kept our profile, you know, subtle. We couldn’t quite blend in with the Japanese honeymooners in their matching outfits, but kept our profile low while enjoying the pool and freshwater showers. The kids had a ball walking the beach, claiming “snake island” for their own, and herding parrotfish in the shallows.
We all piled onto FlyAweigh one morning and cruised out to a less trafficked part of the lagoon. This is literally the largest lagoon in the world, so that wasn’t too difficult. We thought our days of epic snorkeling were over for a while. I am so happy to be wrong! Gorgeous corals, new reef fish, octopus, cuttlefish, eagle rays, and more. I dubbed one hunk of rock that Mike and Jamie favored for spearfishing (oh, we ate very well!) a “rest stop on the turtle highway.” I have never seen so many turtles, and I have never seen such large turtles, but there they were. From the 4+ foot green turtle with a ridiculously big head, to the graceful hawksbills that glided through- one after another after another.
If only our underwater camera hadn’t stopped working in Fiji (to be fair, I took that little Fuji to depths it did not belong in) we’d have underwater eye candy to share. Instead, you have to settle for a picture of Kim from s/v Victoria, who is clearly telling a grand fish story:
Allan and Alison broke out their windsurfer. Jamie is a natural: despite about a 20 year gap since his last windsurfing experience, he took off immediately. He opted to cruise way out into the lagoon; Allan, on the other hand, had fun aiming as close to the stern of Totem as humanly possible (and grinning like a wildman the whole time).
Jamie spent hours in the water with Niall, giving him his first lesson.
Mairen decided to commemorate the whole day by helping me make a dessert with a paper-and-lego windsurfing diorama featured on top.
Alison has a lovely, calming, positive presence… just being around her helped my perspective on the unwanted wait in New Cal.
Meanwhile, the girls adopted Allan:
That is, when they weren’t inflicting themselves on Mike and Hyo. Fortunately, they are not only used to this, they seem to encourage it.
As usual, lovely memories are made when we least expect them. Saying goodbye was difficult- we’re not all sure exactly when we’ll meet up again. I’m going to cherish the gifted days we had with these characters for a long time.