We spent the night between Noumea and Iles des Pines, on which Kuto lies, slowly cruising at 11 knots, making our way through yet more reefs and tree-lined islands until we reached the anchorage off Les Pines; it is aptly named, as these towering trees are on the smallest of islands and on the main one too.
As the sun came up, we could see our anchor chain disappearing into the shimmering turquoise water. We used 5 shackles of chain, (each shackle is 15 fathoms or 90 feet, so in our case, 450 feet of cable lay on the bottom, plus the anchor, of course). Incidentally, ‘shackles’ of chain came about from seamen of old counting the number of actual shackles, (which held the lengths of chain together), as they passed through the hawse pipe.
I digress, for we were now anchored in the most beautiful of areas, beaches with sand like flour, verdant and rolling hills beckoned us. Out tender operation took guests to a small jetty and from there they could stroll to the beach or explore the lanes. This is no resort area, it is very ‘rustic’ and that is why it appealed to many.
Our old friend, the ‘Amadea’, which keeps following us around, (or are we following her?), appeared again and anchored nearby, 2 hours after we arrived.
With my trusty camera in hand, I rode a tender in and was greeted by yet more locals, dancing and singing in a strange tongue, nevertheless they presented a spectacular sight. A palm-garland was placed on my head, as were all guests when they alighted.
I had been advised by the local, (French) pilot, to take a track nearby and cut across the island to a beach, from which I would be able to see the ‘Amsterdam’ and take a photo or two. It was only after finding aforesaid track and starting to walk along it, that it occurred to me that I had neglected to ask him if there were any ‘hazards’ I should be aware of. By ‘hazards’, I am referring to such as wild boar, spiders and sneaky slithering snakes, lions, tigers, elephants, you know, that sort of thing. Too far into the undergrowth to turn around, I courageously (and warily) continued on and, without a scratch I arrived at the beach, duly took my photos and made it back without being attacked; well almost, if I were truthful, a butterfly had a go at me…….
Then a stroll to the beach, (still with my palm-garland perched on my head); the water too tempting to resist, so a paddle was called for and then of course, photos with passing guests, who were tickled pink that the captain would wear such headwear.
I could have spent far longer ashore, however, as always, work beckoned and so reluctantly I made my way back to the ship. I will leave you with the photos and yes, I even managed to download a short video to Vimeo, here is the link http://vimeo.com/86165885 . There is no sound; unfortunately, with the wind, one couldn’t hear my commentary, however I’m sure you will enjoy being able to see what I have described.
We departed relatively early, 3 p.m., for we had to get to Sydney, Australia on time. Firstly though, we had to disembark our pilot and as there is no pilot boat in such an isolated area, we had to divert and retrace our steps, taking him to just south of Noumea, a 48 mile detour, before heading south-west across the Pacific.