It took a few hours and a long hot walk to complete the clearing-in process in Noumea with visits to Immigration, Customs and Bio-Security. We were in company with Doug from Gambol who was also checking in, and the crews from three boats who were checking out.
After we finished we had just enough time to hit up an ATM for Pacific francs and visit the market before it closed at 11am. Baguettes and French pastries were what we were after, but the abundant fruit and vegetables caught our attention too. After the beautiful and crazy-inexpensive produce in Vanuatu we suffered a bit of sticker shock at the first world prices but we indulged anyway, especially since we had only provisioned exactly enough for the passage knowing Bio-Security would confiscate any remaining “organics” when we arrived.
Back at the ranch we learned just how closely packed the moorings are. As the wind shifted and eased and the tide turned and swirled we found Escape Velocity snuggling up to this boat or that, never quite close enough to make contact but enough to keep us boat bound for the next day until we were certain no one would suffer a bump or worse.
We eventually pulled the mooring loop all the way aboard to the windlass to move us as far from the boats behind us as possible. Even so, at a certain point one of our dinghy falls wrapped itself around the forestay of a little blue sloop that usually lay a healthy distance away.
We have no plans for New Caledonia. There are plenty of islands and bays to explore but with a challenging passage to Australia ahead and the prospect of a busy family visit in Sydney we’re content to just wander the city and knock a few boat chores off the list while we watch the weather for a safe opening for the next thousand sea miles.