Welcome to Zenitude’s blog where you can follow us while we travel slow in our Lagoon catamaran. We update this blog frequently when we are cruising to let family and friends know where we are. Check the complete story of our adventures that started in 2006 when Zenitude became our home and cruising our way of life. Graciela and Oscar

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Good French services for our French boat keeping us in Noumea

From previous experience in French islands we suspected we could get several of Zenitude's maintenance jobs done here, we must say, cheaper and better than in Australia. Because Zenitude is a catamaran and she is French, it is easy to find parts and expertise in French territory. When we got an excellent recommendation for Incidences Voilerie, the maker of our sails, we immediately contacted them to have a look at our main sail. The sail now is back and repaired, the bad news is that after 10 years of sailing the material is worn and it may not survive another year. We are now waiting for a quote on a new sail. We found Helene Corr, the representative of Incidences here in Noumea very professional and reliable and her services reasonable priced.

When we removed the main sail it became obvious a little rigging issue, so next thing was to get advice from a rigger. We contacted Georges Auteret. He is pretty famous around here. Everybody knows him and everybody says he is the best. We've been dealing with riggers before in the US and in Australia and this is the first time we find somebody that really understands the particulars of catamaran's rigging. He did a full inspection and found our rigging still in good condition, however being 10 years old is reaching the age for changing. It will have to be changed sometime in the next couple of years so we asked for a quote considering that this may be a good opportunity to do it. Georges comes with lots of recommendations and the quote was very reasonable, so we decided to do it here and now.

Georges up the mast checking the rigging
Georges at work

Conferencing ....

Meanwhile,Zeni the dinghy, is also getting a face lift. We ordered a custom cover from another excellent guy that does canvas work and quoted almost half of the price asked in Australia. He found that poor Zeni had the bottom quite damaged and started to get osmosis, meaning water is getting inside the fiber. The damage comes from our many landings on beautiful white sanded beaches, carrying poor dinghy on the sand. The canvas guy recommended a friend that did a very good job, again, at a very good price.

All this means we are still at Port Moselle marina. The weather has become ugly this week so we are happy here doing all these works while the wind blows at 25 kn. at times inside the bay. It's been reported very high winds out there at sea. We are hoping by Friday all work will be finished and we can start getting ready to leave, probably on Monday when the weather improves.   
G. and O.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Moving around - A little sample of the large lagoon

Sailing around the huge lagoon

We left Port Moselle on Wednesday to visit some of the little islands nearby Noumea. We couldn't go far as we left our mainsail in Noumea for repairs and have also ordered a cover for our dinghy. Our plan is to come back to the marina next week. 

The lagoon is huge and from the many places that can be visited we choose Ilot Te Ndu first as recommended by Mark and Dianne. A beautiful little inhabited island surrounded by coral reefs. It is part of the natural reserve so all the fish in the coral is protected for desperation of Oscar that couldn't go spearfishing while the big groupers indolently looked at him.

Sunset at Ilot Te Ndu
We snorkeled in several places and saw lots of turtles, sea snakes, a couple of white tip small sharks, unicorns, groupers, trouts and lots of colorful fish. The highlight in this area being the turtles.

Coming to the surface for a bit of air
It was a weekday and at sunset the place was just   ours. We spent 2 beautiful days and then left towards Ilot Laregnere. At mid way we stopped in Recif Senef for a snorkel. It is a very pretty place with many colors and lots of fish. Oscar was very keen to find the groupers here but I guess they know they are not protected in this place so they were nowhere to be seen. Again the white tip sharks always patrolling the reef. 

If you can spot, the shark patrolling the reef

Ilot Laregnere is another natural reserve with a nice beach, picnic area, camping and BBQ facilities. It is very popular for the locals. This Friday was the start of a long weekend here in NC and soon weekenders started arriving in their boats. Many of them camping in the beach. Even in the rainy weather people was enjoying themselves and at night we could see several bom fires in the beach. 

Weekenders at the beach in Ilot Laregnere
Next stop was Ilot Maitre, the island with the famous Escapade resort. A beautiful hotel where apparently the majority of the tourism comes from Japan. We went to visit and had a drink at the bar. The place is fantastic though quite expensive and there is no where else to go in the island, so no alternative for restaurants around. 
Bungalows at the Escapade Resort
This is our last stop and soon we'll be back at the marina. In all the places we've stopped we had our remora pets underneath Zenitude, everyday waiting for breakfast time, maybe because they are french, they love the scraps of our baguetes.
Breakfast time for the remoras  
A nice week over, we are back at the marina with internet again, probably for about a week. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Port Moselle Marina, Noumea. It's a marina life.

Raising French and Quarantine flags during arrival

This is a modern marina located in the centre of town, the ideal spot to rest, get the boat back in shape and enjoy the cosmopolitan town full of shops and good restaurants, all within easy walking distance. Prices for a week at the marina are very reasonable, compared to Australian prices, and the rate includes energy, water and internet. We decided to stay a week.  We cleared customs at the marina and agriculture came to the boat and took away whatever we had left in fruits, vegies and eggs, they asked to wait for 2 hours before leaving the boat (apparently somebody may show up for an inspection) and then we were free to remove the yellow quarantine flag and move around. Immigration had to be left for next day as they only work in the morning till 11.30AM.

Port Mossele Marina with hundreds of sailboats

A little while later, Mustang Sally, with Mark and Dianne and their friend Graheme arrived. We met them in Lord Howe and we traveled in tandem, they were just behind us and invited us over for drinks to celebrate our easy passage. On a route where the usual wind would be on the nose, we got blessed with downwind sailing for the duration of the trip. Amazing.

Next morning we would have happily slept in but we had to make it to Immigration before 11.00AM.  It took us a while to find the building, about 6 blocks from the marina. Luckily we run into Dianne, Mark and Graheme who told us how to get there. Eventually we found the building and completed formalities. We are now legally in New Caledonia and can stay here for a total of 6 months. So far, it looks like a good place to be. 
First trip to the supermarket

On the way back we stopped at the Super Marche, run again into Mark and Dianne, I guess we all had the same things in mind: cheese, pate, jambon, baguettes and wine. Oscar found ‘bavete’, which is a cut of meat we have in Argentina (entranha) that is great for the grill and soon a BBQ at Zenitude was organized for the following day with our friends from Mustang Sally. 

We’ve had rainy weather since we are here and it seems this pattern will continue into early next week. With half the week already gone we’ve now been able to do the cleaning, the laundry, some shopping and some of the little fixes we’d like to get done here. Nouvelle Pleasance, just 10 minutes away by dinghy, is the place to get all kind of boating services. I was surprised to see the number of boats here, even now that is the low season. Boats arriving from the Pacific crossing will not arrive until later in the year, during what is considered the high season. 

We haven’t decided where to go next when we leave the marina on Wednesday. There are many islands in this big lagoon to visit and the plan is to go around discovering places. We just need the sun to come out again and make it inviting. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The pictures of Lord Howe Island

Finally with good internet pictures from our previous leg are now in Picasa in the link below:
LHI Album


Monday, 6 May 2013

Arriving in Noumea

At dawn we can see New Caledonia ahead. It is a rainy day and we are approaching the "Passe de Boulari" to get into the lagoon. The pass is easy and we enter the big lagoon. It will take us about 3 hours to navigate the lagoon and arrive in Port Moselle, where boats coming from overseas need to clear with customs, immigration and agriculture. Finally, at around 1.00PM we enter the marina and dock at the visitors pontoon. We have arrived.

At Sea - Day 5 - Our position: 22.51S 166.09E

We are just 25 miles from the entrance to Noumea, arriving at the end of day 5 on Monday morning. Sunday was another pleasant day but no much wind so Zenitude is going along in her trawler mode, motoring for the past 18 hours. It was warm and sunny with very little wind until the front arrived during the night as expected with cold rain and no wind. It doesn't look very pleasant out there at the moment, hopefully it will improve before arrival. The highlight of the day is the Mahi-Mahi Oscar caught in the late afternoon.

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Sunday, 5 May 2013

At Sea - Day 4 - Our position: 24.33S 164.49E

A pleasant day, with light winds. The only issue is the wind direction just dead on the back which makes it almost impossible to keep course. We've been motor sailing to help keeping up the speed and try to arrive in Noumea on Monday with day light. News from our weather guru are good, it seems that the approaching front will have weaken by the time it gets to us, with winds no higher than 20kn. With day 4 being a boring day we've been able to rest and feel much better today.

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Friday, 3 May 2013

At Sea - Day 3 - Our position: 27.24S 162.29E

Last night we had 2 mild squalls and a third nasty that took us by surprise. It created havoc on board for about 20 minutes. Other than that the night was uneventful and we did good speed. Today we had a good run with seas a bit high but coming from behind so it is quite comfortable. We are trying to keep up the speed and get as much north as possible before the next front comes on Sunday night. At least all these fronts are giving us the wind in the right direction, something very uncommon for this leg of the trip. Tomorrow we expect less wind and calmer conditions.
The tired crew of Zenitude.

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Thursday, 2 May 2013

At Sea - Day 2 - Our position: 29.24.740S 160.48.984E

Good sailing today with winds between 15 and 20 in the back. There are a few squalls around now and we think the front is approaching as predicted. Hopefully it will have weaken by the time it catchs up with us but we are expecting a squally night. So far all is good and all is well on board.

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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Left Lord Howe Island - Our position: 31.15.007S 159.15.212E

We left LHI today at noon towards Noumea. It is a perfect day for motoring! A nice day with no wind, but we decided to leave ahead of a front that should catch up with us some time early Friday and bring winds to push us in the right direction. We could have waited for the front to pass and leave behind it but there is a new front on Monday and our weather guru recommended to get in Noumea before the second front. Mustang Sally, another sailboat we met at LHI is traveling to Noumea too and is slightly behind us.
All is well on board.

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