Sunday 22nd October 2017
We are finding the colours here in New Caledonia astonishing. The red soil in the hills, the bright turquoise water and the dark green pines, combine to give startlingly beautiful vistas.
Feeling almost recovered from our colds, Thursday, we walked over to Kanumera Beach and the Gite Oure for lunch. The beach was protected from the easterlies that continued to blow, it felt great to be off the boat for a bit and to be out of the continual bashing of the wind. The sun shone in a cloudless sky, turning the sea a truly amazing colour and providing a sublime back drop to the restaurant on the beach.
No colour editing, it really was that incredible turquoise.
Friday with the winds forecast to ease, we set off early to return to the mainland and the large protected Baie de Prony. We were expecting the sea, after days of blustery weather, to still be rough but not the 3m swell that hit us as soon as we cleared the reef systems around the Ile des Pins. Not only were the waves large but the period between them was very short, luckily after the first hour our route took us NW and put the waves on our stern making life a little more comfortable. However it was with some relief we arrived at our destination, the small island of Casy that sits in the centre of the bay. The whole island and its surrounding waters are a National Park, mooring buoys have been put in to protect the sea grass and coral from anchors. It has been a while since we have picked up a mooring but with calm conditions and despite a bit of a tangle with the lines we completed the procedure without too much embarrassment.
As we relaxed with a well deserved ‘got here beer’ we took in our surroundings. This was yet another picturesque spot, the bay itself is about 4 miles square and surrounded with steep hills, the green of the covering vegetation highlighted by the bright red soil. The island was mostly wooded with the tall dark pines towering above the rest of the trees that line the shore. Rocky outcrops of large boulders tumbled out at intervals onto the pretty beaches but made circumnavigation along the beach impossible.
Beach on Ile de Casy
Helpfully the authorities have laid down trails slightly inland, so Saturday morning we set out to explore. The island being only a kilometre in diameter, with its highest point only 45m above sea level this was our kind of hike and it proved despite its shortness to be varied and interesting. We strolled through a forest of pines with their notched straight trunks, an area of a rare variety of tree fern and scattered between, old gnarly trunks of species unknown.
The path led through a deserted derelict resort, winding around the trees and their large root systems, past a one hundred year old cemetery from the days when the island had been farmed, along a beach and gently towards the summit. Suddenly we came out into the open, the sunlight harsh after the dark of the forest, underfoot the ground became dust and rumble and red, we were in an open cast mine. Not worked for at least half a century the land still lays stark and barren but the views were superb.
View from the top of Ile de Casy
The next morning as the sun rose above the island, surrounded by calm seas and rust coloured hills, everything took on an amazing orange glow. We decided, despite the fridge being almost bare, to stay another day.
Early morning view from the cockpit