Friday, December 12, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 73. New Caladonia hangs on.

Shiriri in the Baie de Prony.            

We are in a rush to leave just as soon as we can top up our fuel and water because we must arrive home on the West coast of Canada before the winter gales start in the North Pacific. Here it is still the end of May and yet so great is the distance yet to cover that we must plan three months or more ahead. We also have to check our rigging after the knock down and the engine exhaust system is leaking fumes. I shinny up the masts just fine but asking in French for the right gasket cement draws on all my linguistic and drawing talents!

As Shiriri leaves Noemea en route to Havannah Pass we discover that we have battery problems. Friends from the Manley dock -Amatuana II- help us diagnose the problem at anchor in the Baie de Prony and reroute some wires so we could proceed on only one bank of batteries, but in the end we turn back to Noemea for a new starter battery and a manual battery switch. With a solution still so close at hand and a great blank on the chart ahead of us it only makes sense.

A few days later we are ready to leave again even though this time the harbour master points out that the trade winds are persistently easterly and that we should wait until they settle back to south-east if we wish to make any easting at all. Yes, we agree, he is right, but no we can not afford to wait around. We must get through the warmer parts of the North Pacific as soon as possible to avoid the hurricane/typhoon season even if that means losing our easting.

Back in the Baie de Prony near Havannah Pass we are forced to wait a few more days as the pass is too difficult for us to exit in strong eastery winds. We visit with Noasson, also from the Manley docks and waiting to depart for Vanuatu, and then one morning with an iffy forecast of lighter easterlies we bounce out of the pass at last and start a long tack south-east to gain some easting so we can miss the Loyalty Islands just to the north when we tack again and sail close hauled to clear the south end of Vanuatu. Shiriri puts her shoulder into it and we begin to refine our windward sailing expertise.

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