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Friday, October 7, 2016

New Caledonia: Doggone Amazing Story, Ilot Casy

New Caledonia, Ilot Casy.  "Moose" looks for island delicacy beche de mer aka by their less appetizing name, sea slugs.
We've been spotted.  Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
New Caledonia... so little time, so many excellent cruising options....

"You must go to Ilot Casy [New Caledonia].  Bring dog food," was Viki Moore of Astrolabe's initially cryptic Facebook message, with a link to this excellent post about her visits there.  Viki also wrote a great article about Ilot Casy's "Moose" in New Zealand Boating's November 2015 issue - click here for that.


"If you go only one place in Prony, go to Ilot Casy.  It's a very special place," Rich and Cyndi of s/v Legacy agreed.  Given how much their excellent www.twoatsea.com blog advice guided many of our favorite stops in New Zealand's Bay of Islands and Fiji's Yasawas, we took their recommendation to heart.  Even though we didn't bring dog food.


Why dog food?  
We could feel love coming our way, on Ilot Casy, New Caledonia
Viki relates the Ilot Casy story she heard from a local of sorts....
"Ian told us a story of how when the resort was operating, there was a caretaker there who had a puppy – Moose. 

About 10 or so years ago, the resort closed down, abandoned. The caretaker packed up his things and went to leave. He called the dog to get in to the boat to leave, but he wouldn’t come.


So he went to pick him up and put him in the boat, but he jumped straight out again. So he tried a third time to take him away, this time holding him in the boat until they were far enough away from the shore, but Moose jumped out again and swam ashore.

The caretaker was getting a bit annoyed by this stage, so he left the dog there and decided to come back again the following day to try again. But the same thing happened. The caretaker thought that obviously the dog did NOT want to leave, and so, he left him there.

And so apparently that his how Monsieur Chien [Viki's name for him - "Mr. Dog" in French as New Caledonia is a French-speaking country] or Moose came to be living on this Island all by himself!"
Wayne opens our last can of SPAM for Moose on Ilot Casy.  Note Moose's rapt look and tongue out in anticipation?
As we packed for our hike, I threatened to feed Moose one of our prized steaks from Vanuatu, since Wayne stopped me from buying dog food in Noumea.  "Don't forget who the real big dog here is, Wayne countered, waggling some other parts playfully.

I somewhat regretfully brought our last can of SPAM, as I've made some surprisingly tasty meals with it.

"Don't be alarmed if you hear him howl," Cyndi and Rich forewarned.  "It's just his way of letting you know he's there."
"C'mon!" Moose seems to say, urging us to follow him as we come ashore. Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
Westerlies drove us to the North side of the island, past the more popular dockside Ilot Casy moorings; we snagged the second of the two moorings there.  But we still met the "VID" - very important dog.  As we made our way down to the dock on the other side of the island, we howled for him to let him know we were there.  He joyfully bounded his way out to greet us, a big doggy smile on his face.

We noticed Moose had a bit of a hitch, a limp.  We weren't sure if it was a hip problem or a paw problem, but it didn't seem to slow him down too much, considering.  You could tell with from his gray hair Moose was an older dog, but he looked fit - neither fat nor thin - and his coat was glossy.  His tail beat a happy dance that would put a metronome to shame.  We felt loved.
Moose coyly pretends the Ilot Casy resort study binders are not part of his night course studies.
It's a natural next step after Island Ambassador and Guide Extraordinaire.

We weren't sure whether to feed Moose first or go for walkies first.  We knew from Viki and Rich and Cyndi that Moose was the island guide, taking his guests for walks, even stopping or retreating to check up on them if they fell too far behind.

We decided Moose wanted a meal before the hike, and pulled out the SPAM can, which definitely caught his rapt attention.  We blopped the SPAM into a tray serving as his food dish and discovered he liked SPAM enough to eat it in one gulp.  Previously, we did not know it was possible to ingest that much SPAM in one gulp!
Moose checking the scene out while he waits for us to catch up.  Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
We also brought lots of fresh water, plenty for both us and him.  We poured some in his water dish, next to the now empty tray.  Some clever soul set up a rainwater fill for his bowl, but it's been pretty dry, as was his water dish.

Before leaving the dock, as others reported, Moose adopted a hunting pose, and scoped out the fish.   Finding none, off we went.

One of our first stops was into what appears to be Moose's hang-out, the abandoned resort. We noticed more food bowls and several opened binders scattered about.  I decided Moose must be taking resort management night classes, having already excelled in his job as Island Ambassador and  Guide Extraordinaire.

Indeed Moose did a great job of leading us around Ilot Casy.  It's a tiny island, but packed with interesting, well-maintained trails.  More on the island in a future post (or two).  

Outside the resort we were amused by Moose's nose-dive into the grass, where we're betting he was chasing a skink.  He didn't catch it, but his tail told us he enjoyed the chase.  Likewise, he came up dry on his beche de mer (that's sea slugs or sea cucumbers for the rest of us) foray, though we've heard from others he was often successful.  A later snorkel revealed the population is thriving there, so little danger of his running out.
One of several spots Moose stopped to see if the fish were biting.  Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
Eventually we arrived at our dinghy and anchorage, apparently another favorite fishing spot for Moose.  At last, he settled into the sand, looking content but dog-tired.  We gave him some more water, and bid him a reluctant good-bye.  We were relieved he didn't howl his goodbyes or otherwise give us the sense we abandoned him.

A few days later, we stopped at the main anchorage of Ilot Casy.  There were several other boats moored, so we trusted it was their turn to enjoy being hosted by Moose, and were thanking him with supper.  We spotted his telltale footprints along with some human prints in the sand, nearby a hefty crab-dig hole.


As we returned to the dock at the end of our hike, we met his guests.  He was indeed well fed, so we held off on the chicken we brought for him.  Affectionate as ever, he was also more playful, partially climbing a coconut palm to rip of a frond base to shake back and forth.  
Moose on Ilot Casy's North Shore, near our first anchorage.  New Caledonia.
We found out from Moose's guests that cruisers Ana and Brent of catamaran Impy put together a fund-raising effort when they noticed Moose's health had taken a turn for the worse.  They raised over $1,100 pounds, and arranged for a local flying vet to investigate and provide Moose with whatever care was needed.  Click here for the video they made about their experiences with Moose.  Have a hanky handy - it's 37 minutes long and a real tear-jerker, though I will give this spoiler - it has a happy ending.

The next morning, another cruiser was about to feed Moose and take his tour.  Moose must've felt well fed, as he was more interested in being seen by us, than checking out the corned beef about to be spooned into his tray.  We pointed out to him that he was missing out!  He chowed it down and took his benefactor for his tour.

When we got back to the dock, we fed Moose his chicken at last, again refilling his water dish.

It was time to move on, and we know Moose will get as much love as he gives -- a lot!

"He has a way of touching everyone he meets," Rich and and Cyndi reminisced, wistfully.  He'll always be Brownie to us." 

Whatever you call, him, there's a sweetness about him that reaches out even to non-dog people.  Bring some dog food - the canned stuff - he has to be pretty hungry before kibble appeals.  And spread the word.

We know Moose won't live forever, but for ever long he does, he will live well.  We hope you have the pleasure of his acquaintance.
How can you not love a dog like that?  Moose, Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
Location Location
We arrived in New Caledonia September 20, 2016.  This post was written while cruising the Prony Bay area, less than 30 miles South of Noumea.  We stopped at Ilot Casy on September 28, 2016 (S22.21.074 E166.50.647) overnight, and again October 3-5, 2016 (S22.21.450 E166.50.554).

By the time this posts, we will likely be headed back out after provisioning in Noumea. 

Wayne, giving Moose an ear-gasm.  Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.
Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.
Every dog has his day... Moose, tired at the end
of a full one.  Ilot Casy, New Caledonia.








Up Next
Our current plans are to catch a weather window around the beginning of November to Australia, about a 2-week 1,000+ mile passage.  There we'll cruise, travel then figure out where to go back to work somewhere.