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Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Caledonia: Ravaged Beauty, Ouen Port Koube

Panorama inside sunlight-dappled Port Koube, Ouen, New Caledonia.
Port Koube, Ouen, New Caledonia.  “It’s nothing special,” Rich emailed us regarding Port Koube, with an invitation to join him whilst he and Cyndi of s/v Legacy hunkered out the strong westerly winds.  “Prony was too crowded.  The rally boats are there.” 

Soft, weather-worn peaks frame Port Koube, reputedly a hurricane hole.  New Caledonia.
For newbies to New Caledonia, Port Koube, properly lit (the hillsides, not us, though one could say the latter came later), was quite beautiful.  Port Koube’s enclosed by a ring of undulating hills, wrapped in a blanket of green and golden grasses, dotted with a mix of scrub and trees, ravaged with mining scars, exposing vibrantly orange earth, darkened periodically to a deep umber.

Nautilus shells and a cuttlefish bone, artfully scattered across Port Koube’s shore.  New Caledonia.
We’d been looking forward to meeting Rich and Cyndi for nearly a year, ever since reading their awesome blog highlighting their favorite Bay of Islands anchorages in New Zealand.  We invited them to a thank you dinner.  Already committed to spending time with their cruising friends Bob and Linda of s/v Bright Angel, they countered with sundowners (sips and niblies) aboard Bright Angel.  They’d all enjoyed buddy boating together, but we each headed opposite directions the next morn, but graciously, we were included, and got to add our hellos to all the farewells.

Native plants clamber across Port Koube’s seemingly inhospitable rocky outcroppings.  The bright orange gash is a holdover from previous mining.  
New Caledonia.
They all stopped by our boat prior to welcome us in and give us a quick overview of the Bay.  “Check out the nautilus shells,” they told us. “There’s lots and we left some ashore.”  While Rich, Cyndi, Bob and Linda stopped, we showed off our still; we were looking for ways to thanks Rich and Cyndi for all the fantastic info they’ve shared which gave us some of our best cruising highlights in New Zealand and Fiji.

The first of many clay-like sturdy orange “dirt” roads intersecting New Caledonia.  Koube Bay near Prony, New Caledonia.
We enjoyed our short dinghy ride ashore, wandering the fringe of the mangroves, while lazily soaking up the late afternoon sun.  Then we took a short jaunt along the shore side road. All this in a land where it looked like some great hand casually reached down from the sky and pegged the color saturation bar to 100%.

These silvery gnarled tree roots contrasted beautifully
against Port Koube’s intensely orange soil.
Then it was time for "sundowners" board Bright Angel.

We brought some true “boat drinks,” gin made from our still, mixed with diet tonic from our soda stream, diet soda stream burbled diet cran-raspberry mixed with rum from our still, and the piece du resistance, B52s (the best ever adult milkshake!) made with coffee liqueur we made from our own distilled spirits and an Irish cream also “boat made,” thanks to a fabulous recipe from Mark of Amelllie IV.  All were a hit, as was sharing a spectacular and photogenic sunset.

The next morn, before heading off to Noumea, Rich generously stopped by to troubleshoot why my phone wifi hotspot wasn’t working.  Eventually, he figured it out – thank you Rich!   Then he shared a whole slew of Google Earth KAP downloads with Wayne, showing him some spots they enjoyed stopping at in New Cal, as well as giving Wayne a few Open CPN pointers.  Again, thanks, Rich!





 Bob, Rich and Cyndi pop out of imbibing in Bright Angel’s comfy cockpit to see the real sun down, off Bright Angel’s bow.
 Linda scopes out the next snap to
take of Port Koube’s deep magenta sunset.
All too soon, we scattered like leaves on the wind, each headed our separate ways, though we hope to meet again.

For us, maybe because it was our first official New Caledonia cruising stop, or maybe because of our newfound friends, Port Koube is something special.  If this was mediocre in New Caledonia, we could hardly wait to explore the really good stuff!















Rich of s/v Legacy and co-author of www.TwoAtSea.com
gives Wayne some New Caledonia Open CPN files and pointers. 
Location Location
We stopped in Port Koube (S22..26.279 E166.48.179), Ouen, New Caledonia September 27, 2016.  By the time this posts we'll likely just have arrived back in Noumea, for provisioning (and more wifi!) before we head back out for more New Caledonia cruising.














Port Koube’s waters were mirror-still at dawn, forming the perfect reflective foreground for these sculptural shore side tree skeletons,
their bases tea-stained by the local soil.
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.