In Port Boisé there's a new-ish looking wharf of red stone and wood extending from a raw cut of red road emerging from the woods. There's also lighted nav aids and a power boat moored on the other side (which we finally figured out was a pilot boat positioned for ships transiting the Havana Passage), but otherwise there were no houses in sight. At the head of the dogleg a river empties fresh water into the cove turning the water murky, and visitors should beware of the abrupt shallows that fill the north part of the cove. For a spate of bad weather, Port Boisé was perfect.
By the time we woke from our post-passage nap, the first drizzle had started, so it was clearly perfect for a movie afternoon. After picking around through some unsatisfactory DVDs, we ended up watching "The Holiday," a limply-named but fun chick flick about two very different women - from LA and England -- who do a vacation house swap s a remedy for love lives gone sour. By the end of the movie the rain was steady and dark had fallen, but despite being twenty-six miles from Noumea the whole northwestern sky was lit with the lume of New Caledonia's big city.
It rained all night and pretty much all the next day. It has been a long time since we've had this kind of rain, and it was exactly what the boat needed since, after all the hard bashing to windward we've done this past month, Tackless II must have salt as high as the spreaders. We passed the day pretty much cocooned aboard, reading and writing, and going outside only to open up the deck fills to top off our water tanks once we were confident the decks had been well-rinsed. A third boat ducked into the anchorage to get out of the weather in the late afternoon, but our first awareness of it was when we heard the roar of its engine in reverse as it backed off that shoal behind us.
We woke the next morning to clouds, but neither rain nor wind. In a burst of energy we pumped up the kayaks and went for a paddle, exploring over the abruptly shallow shoals, along the shore to the little river. There'd been enough rain to feed several small cascades that made quite the babble as we paddled a short ways upriver as far the first rapids. This was a pretty spot, and it's a shame we couldn't get further. Instead we backtracked out and followed the shoreline around to the wharf, scaring up a pair of buff-colored herons of a sort we'd never seen before.
As we'd entered Port Boisé, we'd noticed a fancy-looking building poking up through the pines on the point that was either a very fancy private home or some sort of resort. So we beached the kayaks near the wharf and set out up the road into the woods to explore. As we reached the top of the rise, the woods thinned to low bush and the road intersected a paved lane. We took the turn to the right and walked about two kilometers following the sign to the Gite Kanua. This was a much fancier gite than Chief George's huts in Lifou, with a very fancy main restaurant building at the center. There were only four bungalows in view around the driveway, but we think there must be more down another lane. Evidently in the midst of some renovations, they were not quite open, even though a cluster of tables were set up, and in the French way, the people we spoke to were not very welcoming. Somewhat disappointed because we had thought we might splurge on a restaurant lunch, we got permission to walk down to their beach, but just as we reached it the rain returned, so we scampered back up the hill and persuaded them to sell us a beverage while we sat the shower out. Incredibly we made it all the way back to the boat dry and later enjoyed a lovely evening of wine and snacks with Jim and Paula aboard Avior. (We think we have a divided life! Jim and Paul have a house in Australia and a house they're building in Scotland!)
Although the next morning finally showed shreds of clear sky above us, the French forecast was calling for more "averses" (showers), so we stayed put doing various chores while Avior went exploring. This time it was their turn to get caught by the returning bands of rain that utterly whited out the visibility. We were very glad we hadn't second-guessed the forecast and set out for the Isle of Pines, some forty miles away through the southern lagoon.
The reward for our patience the next morning was a crystal clear sky and a glorious dawn. We and Avior were underway by 0530 to take advantage of the calm to motor southeast, a direction usually dead to windward. The coast of Grandterre was utterly gorgeous in this early light of sunrise, its bare red mountains, despite the greenery below, oddly suggestive of our favorite Sea of Cortez.
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Labels: New Caledonia