Thursday, 19 September 2019

Cris and Tracey arrived - ready for departure to New Zealand

Richard and Cris purchased lots of delicious bread and pastries this morning! Tintin has completed clearance from Noumea and we plan to spend a day or so in the Baie de Prony before catching fair weather south.  ETA Opua Bay of Islands by the end of September!

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Ilot Brosse - Birdy numnums (continued)

Ilot Brosse - Birdy numnums

Exploring Ilot Brosse - Sea Snakes

Tintin is now in Noumea once again - we are re-sending some messages from a few days ago in the Isle of Pines which for some reason were rejected ….

A lovely sunny day arrived, as promised, so we set off an hour before low tide to walk around the island. Ilot Brosse is interesting in that half of it is gorgeous, gently shelving, white sand with classic New Caledonia Pines (Araucaria trees) while the other half is raised limestone with coral terraces and relatively low lying scrubby vegetation.
As we left the white sand and started to walk alongside the raised limestone shoreline there was splash int he water as something fell from atop the limestone - it was a sea snake - apparently there are 12 species of sea snakes in New Caledonia, the type that we observed here is the "striped Jersey sea snake". While not aggressive these are the most venomous of sea snakes and their venom is typically fatal and there is no antivenom available. The locals have a saying about the sea snakes "Leave them alone and they'll do likewise. If you kill one, it'll bring bad weather", so, much as Nicki could do with a new handbag, I quelled the hunter killer instincts.
The striped Jersey sea snakes spend as much of their time out of the water as in it, that explained the impressions in the sand that we observed in the white sand and as we ventured along some paths through the undergrowth on the island we found more snakes on-shore as well as some shed skins….

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Ilot Brosse - Beach combing

On our circumnavigation of the islet we encountered quite an array of interesting sights and critters
Apart from the snakes we explored the rock pools filled with nudibranchs, corals, brittle stars, sea slugs, several different types of crabs and various fish. We came across three Ospreys one of which had a fish in its talons, they are impressive birds and we were able to get quite close - on the shore were various wading birds, herons and kingfishers.
On a small sandy stretch on the most exposed Southern side of the Ilot we found some Nautillus shells which we had been hoping we might come across.
Into the home bound stretch we noticed some black tipped reef sharks close to shore on the incoming tide and then slightly further along the beach literally dozens of them were milling around in the shallows and we spent quite some time standing next to them as they swam back and forth - we had seen the images from Rangiroa of the all the sharks and had been disappointed to miss that but this made up for that. Nicki got some great video footage of the sharks.

Ilot Brosse - Reef Sharks

Ilot Brosse - Isle of Pines

We set off for the Isle of Pines with a forecast of 15 knots Westerly breezes for a downwind sail, we were zinging along with 20-25 knots but as it started to build we decided to anchor in a sheltered bay on the Ile Ouen and we sat out an afternoon/ night of 30 knot winds. The following day we set off again with more benign South Westerlies and decided to head to one of the smaller outlying islands in the Isle of Pines group, Ilot Brosse. This is an uninhabited island with stunning white sand and incredibly blue surrounding waters. On our way here we caught 3 tuna mack, a good fighting fish but from prior experience they have a very dark flesh which isn't particularly appetising so we practised catch and release…

We went ashore briefly on our arrival, a weather front was passing through and the winds were forecast to drop off and for a sunny day to follow so we saved exploring Ilot Brosse until the following day, fortified with some French wine!