Bonjour from New Caledonia

We arrived at Port Moselle in the city of Noumea on Monday afternoon after an excellent day sail from Baie du Prony. Prony is situated on the south end of Grand Terre, the main island of New Caledonia. We had stopped for a night of rest after the short 300-mile passage down from Port Vila.

The passage was OK, mostly a comfortable close reach, except for the last 40 miles, which was, as we say, snotty. The short, choppy seas gave way to calm after we entered more protected waters inside Havana Pass. The major event of the passage was hooking a very large bull mahi, which fought like no other I have hooked in the past. By the time I got him up to the transom, we were both spent. As I attempted to lift him on board, the hook tore from his mouth and he sauntered off to live and tell about it.

It has been nice to be in a marina after living on the hook for the last four months. Dockside power and water eliminate the daily chores of making our own. We can walk right off the boat to downtown without having a wet seat, a.k.a. “dinghy butt.” The only bad news is that it is cold! Daily highs barely reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve been forced to break out the long pants.

The Noumeans are friendly, helpful, and it seems as if we can find just about anything we need with little effort. Welcome back to civilization!

We’ve been asked if the recent events in the U.S. will change our cruising plans, and the answer would be no for the most part. While the recent events have put a dent in the cruising kitty (hopefully a short term situation) it will not affect our plan and desire to circumnavigate. It may affect our short-term plans to fly home to the U.S. and visit friends and family. I will observe with great interest what changes will be made to insure the safety of those flying on commercial airliners.

We’re asked if we are taking any new precautions. As far as we know, the South Pacific is a “safe haven,” at least for the time being. That said, it is impossible to foresee what effects any acts of retribution on the part of the U.S. will have on this part of the world. I will be looking into the possibility of re-flagging Moonshadow in New Zealand this summer, as Kiwis are perceived as being more neutral in the global village.

We’ve been asked if this situation will change where we will cruise, and the answer is absolutely. We will absolutely avoid any areas where there is strong anti-American sentiment and/or areas of potential military action. Since we would like to cruise in the South Pacific for the next two seasons, there will be no immediate change in our route. Further down the road, we may elect to avoid certain parts of Indonesia, and will likely avoid the Red Sea and Suez Canal. Given the recent attacks on yachts in the Gulf of Aden as well as the potential for extended military operations in the Middle East, that part of the world has made its way down to the bottom of my “to visit” list. Instead we may opt head to South Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and cross the Atlantic to South America and then sail back across to the Med. This obviously involves a bit more sailing, but in my opinion, a lot less risk. We still have plenty of time to see how all the events unfold. As we say, “we have no plans and are stickin’ to ‘em.”

Asked if we feel safer cruising than “at home”, I would say most definitely. Since we have no other home but Moonshadow, home is wherever we are anchored or docked at the moment. Right now, we seem to be a long way away from what might be considered terrorist targets, so we aren’t feeling what people living in the U.S. are likely to be feeling. Psychologically, the world will never be the same for us, but in terms of our daily routine, if you can call it that, nothing has changed. We can only guess what fears might haunt people who must go to work in large buildings, get on airliners to travel for business. We can’t imagine what it is like for those who were directly affected or had close friends and loved ones who were affected by the attacks. They may no longer feel the safety and security that Americans living on home soil have come to take for granted

We were discussing the events over dinner with a group of cruisers last week. We agreed that to a certain degree, we are all escapists. In addition to enjoying sailing and a desire to see the world, many of us are escaping some of the negative aspects of living in a large society. A few cruisers we know don’t even want to know about the terrorist attacks. They say, “That’s why I left to go cruising-to get away from all that!” We, on the other hand, regularly listen to the radio to catch up on the latest news. Most of those out here are somewhere in between, but I think that all of us are pleased to be away from the additional stress of these recent events.

I hope we can provide you a bit of vicarious relief with our stories.

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