|At New Caledonia's Ilot Maitre, from your bungalow, you can gaze over the reefs or head down your stairs into them. |
Or, grab a mooring ball for free, if you're a yachtie and the view and access is equally terrific!
|Ilot Maitre, New Caledonia. Kiteboarding-only area, the opposite side of the mooring balls, lee shore of the island.|
Given Ilot Maitre's a kite-boarding mecca, it doesn't take long to notice the wind kicks up by afternoon or earlier.
For those of us at Ilot Maitre more for the snorkeling, you'll find mornings are better for that, as even on the lee side of the island, the water is calmer and thus also clearer earlier in the day. Don't wait until you're toasty -- just hop on in and you'll find you'll get adjusted to the not-all-that-cold water temperature reasonable quickly -- even for cold wimps like me. I did wear a thin shortie wetsuit with a long-sleeved liner, more as a precaution to minimize coral scrapes or mild, tiny jellyfish stings than to stay warm.
|Not quite sure what this fish is, but it was at least a meter long and hung out near our sailboat at Ilot Maitre. New Caledonia.|
|One of the Ilot Maitre turtles I swam with hanging out on the coral. Handsome fellow! New Caledonia.|
|This bludger was nearly a meter across. Looked tasty.|
Looks deceive. Ilot Maitre, New Caledonia.
|These reds were almost a foot long.|
Ilot Maitre, New Caledonia.
The smaller, bright red fish -- guessing snapper -- I also saw snorkeling at Ilot Maitre were probably better eating than a bludger, but also likely to be ciguatera carriers. One ciguatera finding from a marine school in Eleuthera is that contrary to popular belief, what matters most regarding ciguatera carriers is less about their size, and more about whether their diet is more pelagic vs. more reef-focused. For example, a smaller barracuda that spends its life in a small reef area, the greater its likelihood for carrying ciguatera than a larger barracuda whose diet is pelagic. Given ciguatera's cumulative nature, our lack of medical insurance and proximity most of the time to medical assistance, we rarely eat reef fish.
|This fish is one I'd not previously seen anywhere else besides Ilot Maitre, New Caledonia.|
|Fish hiding spot, Ilot Maitre, New Caledonia.|
By far, the biggest highlight in snorkeling Ilot Maitre isn't the coral or the fish -- it's the turtles. There's enough turtles about that without too much effort, both times snorkeling at Ilot Maitre I saw and was able to swim with, photograph and even cam-video two different turtles. They were both pretty good looking fellows, content to just rest a while amidst some bommies. The last time I was able to swim with turtle was in Hawaii - years before cruising! And that was mostly with a 3-finned fella.
|Turtle coming up for air at Ilot Maitre. New Caledonia. Eventually will post some turtle swimming videos.|
|Ilot Maitre and Ilot Signal shown relative to Noumea. Ilot Mato is further South, though not as far as Prony Bay. New Caledonia.|
If you've checked out all 3 spots yourself (Ilot Maitre, Ilot Mato and Ilot Signal), please share your take and photos!
|Shredded flag -- evidence of|
the wind opposite the lee side
of Ilot Maitre.
This is a relatively recent retrospective of our time in Ilot Maitre (S22.20.002 E166.24.385), New Caledonia, October 31- November 2, 2016.
We are currently on passage in Australia, from Coffs Harbour (S30.18.349 E153.18.857) soon to pull in drop anchor at Camden Haven. Both stops are in New South Wales territory, tuck-ins due to stronger winds than we like sailing in on our way to Pittwater.
Cruising By the Numbers
- Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
- Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia, 305 miles.
- Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu, 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, 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.
We’re on our way to Pittwater, near Sydney for pre-sale boat work, ~200 nautical miles left. Weather may force us to stop along the way, though it looks like we finally got the a good weather window we were waiting for. Still a few final posts of New Caledonia and quite a few still to catch up on since we arrived in Australia on November 13, 2016.