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Monday, November 21, 2016

New Caledonia: Cat's Meow Anchorage

This waterfall, a couple hours walk from Prony Bay’s Carenage B anchorage, is one of the best reasons
to stop off at the Carenage B anchorage.
Yes, “Carenage B anchorage” is a yawner name, though it may be where you consider anchoring in Prony Bay simply for its excellent protection.  However, don’t let the name fool you – there’s a host of treasures for cruisers interested in giving their legs a stretch.

Instead of turning left when you get to the logical dinghy spot off Carenage B, go left, and follow the unofficial trail to see the stream from this cascade.  Then head upstream. Prony Bay, Carenage B, New Caledonia.
Access to a section of the Grande Randonee trail  attracted us.  We knew this particular stretch included at least one scenic waterfall. After so many places, notably Dominica, Fiji, and Vanuatu whose scenic spots usually required paid entry and/or access, we were thrilled to set our own agenda and pace, walking free, well constructed and well-marked trails.

Gotta watch out for these spiders, especially on the less traveled trails.  They’re big! Bushwhack trail, 
Prony Bay, Carenage B, New Caledonia.
We’d also heard that traveling up the river at high tide was worthwhile.  We thought we started at high enough tide, but noticed the area shallowing before our very eyes.  We hung a u-turn.  Later, from vista points overlooking the bay, we witnessed what a wise move that turn-around was!

The gangplank – well, probably a former fishing dock – teeters over Prony Bay.  Adjacent hut off bushwhack trail, 
Prony Bay, Carenage B, New Caledonia.
We’re not above a little bushwhacking, which we did the first day we hiked the area, hanging a right, rather than a left at the most logical-looking spot to tie a dinghy to shore (a jut unto the Bay, relatively bare but with trees and rocks to tie off to and an obvious scramble-able section to the land).  We didn’t study or bring any maps with us, figuring as long as we were on some kind of a trail, in clear sight of the bay and it’s tributaries, we’d be fine. 

The minimalist use of lines to tell a story impressed me.
Hut off bushwhack trail, Prony Bay
Carenage B, New Caledonia.
We stumbled across the former homestead site ruins of some of the release convicts from Prony Village, a nice stream fed by some pleasant cascades and a makeshift abandoned hut built into the hillside.  It offered a nifty vista, making it a logical turn-around point for our first day’s hike.

















A different form of “refrigerator art.”  Instead of magnets
attaching artwork to a refrigerator door, this refrigerator
door no longer protects the ‘fridge’s contents,
but serves as a canvas.
The next day, armed with printed Google-translated “Engrish” notes from the Grande Randonee trail website,  we figured out that the bay-hugging dirt road at our immediate left from the dinghy tie-off spot would connect us to the Grand Randomee trail.  We learned to recognize the tiny but consistent stripe placards we saw at Prony Village.

In particular, the broad but shallow river that cut across the dirt road was an easy landmark to alert us we were close to the inland turn-off to the Grande Randonee trail.  It was no problem finding it, and once on it, the trail was regularly marked.  It intertwined with a newer dirt bike trail, which used separate markings, but ultimately led to all same places.








When you cross this shallow river, you know you’re nearly on the turn-off to
the Grande Randonee trail. Near Prony Bay, Carenage B, New Caledonia.
Our first detour from the trail was a subtly marked sign to a cascade.  The trail wasn’t much of a detour, though we enjoyed it enough to take a half hour round trip, including lots of time to oooh and ahhh over the short but wide, split waterfall.
This double cascade makes a nice, brief detour off the Grande Randonee trail,
Carenage B area, Prony Bay, New Caledonia.  Wayne’s presence
gives you a sense of the cascade’s scale.

Had it been later in the day and on the way back, this 1st cascade off the Grande Randomee trail, Carenage B area was one of several areas we could’ve enjoyed a dip in our own private waterfall pool.
As in most trails leading to waterfalls, there were some inclines, but for the most part they were gentle, and a few places the clay-like hard-packed red-orange dirt made for dramatic looking steps.  Only one section got us out-of-shape cruisers huffing and puffing a bit, but it wasn’t too long.

Most of the climbing on the Carenage B area of the Grande Randomee trail was gradual.  Prony Bay, New Caledonia.

Our reward:  a horse-shoe shaped red-orange gully contrasted with a white waterfall, emptying into an inviting, emerald-colored pool.  Boulders on the plain at waterfall’s base provided excellent scenic picnic lunch seating.  An eclectic mix of perennials and shrubbery gave it an oasis feel.
Wayne cools his feet in pool below the second cascade off on the Carenage B section of 
Prony Bay’s Grande Randomee trail.  New Caledonia.
We dipped our toes in the cool pool, happily devoured our salami, cheese and cracker lunch, and simply reveled in this idyllic spot.

These are the only other hikers we saw hiking (and skinny-dipping) on the Carenage B section of
Prony Bay’s Grande Randomee trail.  New Caledonia.
Rested and refreshed, it seemed like a great time to head back, as the next trail attraction was quite a ways off.

Not long after crossing the river near the trailhead start, we heard a “Meow!”  Then “Meow! Meow! Meow!”  Followed by Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow!” 
“Feed me!” in kitty-speak, required no translation! , Prony Bay, Carenage B, New Caledonia.
An adorable, healthy-looking but skinny gray and white kitten was shadowing us, and she definitely had something to say!  As folks formerly owned by cats, it looked, and sounded like – “I’m hungry.  Feed me.  Feed me NOW!”

And so we did.  All we had left was a little salami, and she seemed pretty darned happy with those vittles.

She purred right up there with a successful Geiger –counter and followed us all the way back to our dinghy – about 1/8 mile.

There we met up with local cruisers Freddie and Richard, authors of the The Cruising Guide to New Caledonia who knew about the kitty and came bearing nibblies and sips.  They told us the kitten belonged to the fellow who lived a home by the river, but left it.  Apparently when he moved, he took the kitten’s mom, but not the kitten.
Freddy, co-author of the most current New Caledonia Cruising Guide, was also a sucker for this stray,
but very affectionate kitty. Prony Bay, Carenage B.
We asked if they might know someone who could tale the kitty in, as it was definitely friendly. 

“Why not you?” they asked, but we explained Australia immigration is not very pet friendly, and it was our next stop.  They mulled over who might be able to provide it a home, and had a few ideas.  We hope they follow up!  Unlike Moose on nearby Ilot Casy, we strongly suspect that purring furrball wouldn’t hesitate to follow someone with good kitty nummies offering a loving home.

I luxuriated in a dinghy shower-shampoo from this hose at
Prony Bay Carenage B anchorage.  We also did a hefty
load of hand washed and line dried laundry with
jerry jug water gathered from the same hose. 
And the grand finale of why we love Carenage B anchorage? 

Fresh water from a hose!!!

Ok, you die-hard city slickers have no idea how big a deal a enough water capacity for a thorough hair shampoo is when you’re far, far away from showers not connected to a limited water supply.  Not to mention that we needed a bunch of water to hand-wash our laundry, which we then line-dried on our boat.  All we had to do was dinghy up at high tide and, where I could shampoo off the dinghy then hustle filling our jerry cans to do 3 rounds of fills for laundry before the tide dropped too much to make it back to our boat.

So if you’re reading this blog from your easy chair envious of our visiting these awesome ecosystems, keep in mind it’s often for us it’s essentially car camping, but on a boat instead of in a car.   On our boat it is definitely not equivalent to glamping

Still, car camping or not, we’re incredibly grateful we’ve been able to visit places like Prony Bay in New Caledonia.

High tide.  This is the time to visit the hose bib, or head up river.  Prony Bay, Carenage B anchorage.  Because if you don’t….
This is what you’ll see at low tide, Prony Bay, Carenage B anchorage.
Interested in cruising in New Caledonia?  Here’s our Prony Bay area stops, more or less in sequential order:

  • Boise Baie near Havanna Pass (S22.21.113 E166.57.268)
  • Prony, Anse Sebert, Prony Village (S22.19.264 E166.50.647)*  
  • Prony, Baie du Carenage B (S22.18.267 E166.50.622)
  • Prony, Baie du Carenage A (S22.18.149 E166.51.365)*
  • Prony, Anse Majic -aka Rade De L'Est G (S22.22.903 E166.54.816)*
  • Baie Ue (S22.20.666 E166.42.228) - short stay- too rolly when we were there! interesting high-tide mangrove dinghy ride
  • Baie Ngo (S22.18.898 E166.44.912) - now very industrial! also a bit rolly


*watch for upcoming posts on these spots

And if you make it to Carenage B, just in case the kitty’s still there, please bring along a little tuna and some drinking water and a bowl.

Location Location
This post was written about our time in New Caledonia's Prony area, from late September to early October 2016.  We are currently at our third location in Australia, off Fraser Island (S25.22.852 E153.01.820), Queensland territory. Fraser Island is the largest sand island anywhere, a Unesco World Heritage site.  More on Fraser Island soon.
Prony Bay, Carenage B anchorage is a protected anchorage offering pleasant though not outstanding scenery.
Come ashore, though, have a wander and look around and you’ll be well rewarded for you efforts. 




Cruising By the Numbers

  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • 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.


Up Next
We’ll mosey on down to off to Pittwater, near Sydney by early December 2016 for boat work. Weather permitting, we’ll stop along the way whatever else strikes our fancy.