Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk; the recently installed lightning protection cable makes it’s persistent noise slapping on the inside of the mast, joining all the other annoying noises as the boat is tossed about in the chaotic waves of the Lord Howe lagoon. The rudders also clunk back and forth on the play in the bearings, the centerboard clunks in its case, the boom break creaks and bangs slightly as the force of momentum lets the rope slip a bit, dishes and glasses in the cupboard and sink clink intermittently, and of course there is the waves slapping against the sides of the hull and under the stern. Add the motion itself to the mix and sleep is not on the menu during a bad night at Lord Howe lagoon.
The most beautiful island we have visited yet, but nights like this one are the price you pay to be here on your yacht, and as much as we love it here we have also had enough of this torture, time to move on.
30 August 2015
It has been a long time since the last blog entry, mostly because we didn’t have a good internet connection until now, but also I confess because we were just too busy discovering New Caledonia. Our last two days at Lord Howe Island were pleasant but with a larger South West swell at high tide we really experienced how uncomfortable the moorings here can be. We had a night of being in washing-machine like conditions, with small waves over the reef bouncing off the nearby rocks. By far the worst conditions we have ever been moored or anchored in so far, the plus side is that we will probably tolerate less severe discomfort better for this experience.
We had a night of worry about possibly being trapped in the lagoon as the large swell was causing breaking waves across the North Pass entrance, but fortunately the next morning the swell had abated a bit and we said farewell to Lord Howe. The weather window looked very good for the trip and it did not disappoint, after half a day of motor-sailing in light Northerlies the South Westerly wind arrived and we had excellent downwind sailing for the rest of the trip, varying from about 10 to 25 knots. We had the jib poled out either to leeward or windward almost the whole trip. Nice sailing and pleasant weather with the odd rain squall, but not with any major wind in them. We are disappointed to not have seen any marine life bar a few squids on deck, the odd flying fish and sea-birds including the majestic albatross.
One moment of concern was when we discovered persistent water coming into the bilge again. Not alarmingly fast, but maybe a bucket-full every hour. It seemed our previous analysis of the cause of the leak had been incorrect. After a long process of elimination and investigation we eventually discovered the true problem: The through-hull fitting for the generator cooling water exit had a leak in its seal. This is underneath the boat, but fortunately on the stern quarter where it is not constantly underwater. After removing everything from the port stern locker Bruce was able to get to it and it was clear that some water was getting in as every wave lapped up from behind. There were some moments of panic trying to think how we could seal something that was constantly wet. We have since learned that there are good products available for this, but we had to work with what we had. In the end Bruce decided to just try to completely smother the area with Sikaflex 292. He dried and cleaned the area with acetone as best as possible between waves, then quickly squirted large quantities of sika around the area, building it up a few times. This eventually did the job, which can only really be done properly next time we are out the water. To date the repair is holding well.
As seems to often happen to us, we had to slow down a lot so as to arrive on Monday, because you can’t clear into New Cal on the weekend. We sailed in through Dumbea pass at sunrise, accompanied bhy the only ship we had seen the whole trip and watching some excellent peeling rights breaking down the side of the pass. Formalities at Port Moselle Marina were a pleasure with all staff and officials very friendly and helpful. The one small hitch was Bruce having a bit of a struggle finding the immigration office despite having a good map, it is in an extremely non-obvious looking building. Lyn had over-catered for the trip mostly due to us eating very little during the rougher weather and we had heard that all fresh and even frozen food would be confiscated. Lyn’s solution was to slow roast the remaining lamb and pork, starting at 4AM in the morning on approach to Noumea. After all that the quarantine official was extremely nice and allowed us to keep all the meat, eggs, honey and cheese. He only confiscated a small amount of fresh fruit and vegies. We were lucky as we heard of other boats having all of these items confiscated by more stringent officials in the past.
We spent three nights in Noumea at the marina exploring the town and doing some small maintenance tasks on the boat. I have to say we are not over enamored with Noumea town center. It is quite dirty and bleak in places. Other areas like the Latin quarter are nicer, but still not really a place we want to spend a lot of time. Lyn did really like the fresh food market near the marina and we were also very impressed by the range of equipment and spares at the Marine Corrail yacht chandler. Nevertheless we did enjoy our three days at Port Moselle on the visitor’s finger of the marina, meeting other cruisers. One of the striking things about this marina is that there are hardly any plastic motor boats and most yachts are truly blue-water live-aboard cruisers. This is a stark contrast to Sydney and the Pittwater where marinas are full of white plastic motor boats, racing yachts and production coastal cruisers.
We were very happy to have Jim and Ann of Insatiable 2 arrive the day after us. They are true veterans of the cruising world and we had met them previously in the Pittwater. Our friends Pete and Ness (Akimbo) arrived late in the day and we invited them all to dinner which was a very happy affair. The next night we were all on Insatiable 2 for sundowners and laughs aplenty. We are so fortunate to have these really experienced cruisers offering us advice, tips and knowledge of the area. Pete has taken us through his paper charts of the area, pointing out the good anchorages, surf spots etc. truly valuable information to get us started in this unfamiliar area.
By the end of the third day we were starting to get itchy feet, eager to get out there into the true beauty of New Caledonia and start our holiday properly. More on that coming up very soon in the next blog post.