Scrimshank project - this nautilus shell fragment measures just 3.5" in length

Quick Fix: 22° 20.0 S / 166° 24.3 E
July 31st, 2016 (day 3,349)
Conditions:  Wind: 8/SE  Sky: Cloud/Rain

The Art of Idleness
The word scrimshaw is used today to describe detailed etchings, typically nautical in nature, on antique whale bones and teeth. Many linguistic authorities believe it derived from the old British word scrimshank, meaning 'to avoid duty' or simply 'to be an idle man', and in the eighteenth century it described how off-duty whalers passed their time at sea. We have plenty of work to keep us busy on Dream Time, but when I'm off-duty I enjoy spending my idle time carving, and recently that's been on a nautilus shell that we found in New Caledonia. This scrimshank project was sanded-down to mother-of-pearl and includes a compass rose center surrounded by the swirling eddies of the South Pacific. Time well spent? Hey, it makes me happy.




July 27th, 2016   |  Ilot Mato, New Caledonia  En route to Noumea for fresh supplies, but we had to make a pit stop at one of favorite anchorages.



July 24th, 2016   |  Port Koutoure, New Caledonia  All calm in the southern lagoon. Not a breath of wind. A day to reflect.

Day 3,335 - Ilot Kuebuni (22° 15S 167° 01E)
10:29hrs - July 17th 2016
The Good Stuff

The good stuff we bought in Noumea seventy-three days ago has all but been consumed and we're left only with the unsavory dregs of our remaining provisions.

Our fresh fruit bowls, once spilling over with juicy goodness, are now mostly empty, home to just two dry apples, one potato, a bag of garlic and half a pack of chewing gum. My morning breakfasts of fresh croissant, pain chocolat or exotic granola have been reduced to the only cereal I could find in the Loyalty Islands, Corn Flakes, which would be just fine if they were at least Kelloggs, but these are the Cheap Crappy Chinese variety, little scraps of unnaturally yellow cardboard pieces that, in an effort add both flavor and nutrition, I've taken to sprinkling a handful of the sultanas over.

The chicken we bought in Ouvea last month, which came from an ancient chest freezer which also housed, sadly, a giant coconut crab frozen solid and tied into a tight ball, remains rubbery and almost impossible to chew no matter what method or duration of cooking is applied. Catherine has taken to cutting the chicken into convenient bite-size pieces which do little to improve the texture, but at least makes each piece just a little easier to swallow.

The treat cupboard, once crammed full with sweet biscuits, chocolate bars and savory crisps is depressingly empty, and my impressive collection of Bordeaux bottles has been long drained, I'm now squeezing the last few drops of wine from a plastic bag.

We've caught and foraged additional supplies over the last month, but with no local markets or convenience stores along the southeastern coast of New Caledonia, these supplies have been limited to speared fish and coconuts that we collect on beaches.

I know, I know, poor us! But even though we're scraping the bottom of the supply barrel we're still in no hurry to get back to Noumea. Dream Time is anchored in the very southeastern corner of Grande Terre surrounded by mountains, reefs and a chain of idyllic islands that offer protection from every wind direction, and no amount of fresh produce or Bordeaux will lure us out. But we are keeping a very careful eye on our remaining loo roll...





July 17th, 2016   |   Ilot Kuebuni, New Caledonia  Settling down on Grande Terre's southeastern corner.


Quick Fix: 21° 28.3 S / 166° 03.4 E
July 7th, 2016 (day 3,325)
Conditions:  Wind: 2/NE  Sky: Clear

An Unexpected Discovery
We spent 53 days exploring the Loyalty Islands, by yacht, dinghy, rental car, scooter and flip flops. We presented customary gifts to Kanak chiefs in traditional huts, we were introduced to the President of southern Ouvea, where Catherine even appeared on television. We
clambered inside limestone caves, wandered lazily along dazzling white sandy beaches, and were escorted into a sacred Melanesian lagoon by Felix, our local guide. But yesterday, with the wind shifting and before the sun was up, we waved goodbye and sailed west, back to Grande Terre, 50 nm away. We're anchored now on a remote stretch of coastline which, judging by the number of nautilus shells we've collected, remains mostly undisturbed. It's a beautiful peaceful anchorage surrounded by reefs and red-green mountains. What a find.




July 5th, 2016   |   Trou Bleu d'Anawa, Ouvea  This blue hole sunk in the coral rock is perfect for an afternoon dip (just bring a rope ladder to get out).

Day 3,320 - Ouvea (20° 27S 167° 24E)
18:14hrs - July 2nd 2016
Treasure Found

Sometimes it feels a bit like the Melanesian/Kanak population here would be perfectly happy to be left entirely alone in their lovely island paradise. They don't seem to want or need tourism in its various disruptive forms, and there doesn't seem to be any real effort to encourage visitors to come and stay, and as a result not many come.

The exception of course being the ubiquitous cruise ships that lumber across the ocean from Australia. But in Ouvea where arguably the most beautiful of all the islands beaches in New Caledonia is located, cruise ships have been banned since 2006, because they were 'destroying the coral'. It probably was a coral thing, but I think it was more likely to do with the islanders here wanting to keep at least one of their lovely places just to themselves, which frankly seeing it here in all its untouched loveliness, makes a lot of sense. And while it's a shame that more people don't get to experience this, the lack of tourism is what makes it so special to the few that come here.

You need to have permission from the the local chief to anchor anywhere in the Loyalty Islands, but even with anchoring permission there is a beautiful bay here in Ouvea that is strictly off limits to any visitors unless you are accompanied by an islander, which of course makes it irresistible, so we arranged a tour with Felix who told us stories of hurricanes and sacred holy sites and showed us all over the bay with great reverence and it was lovely.

But my favorite discovery in Ouvea has been Deguala, a group of little motu's on the northern edge of the lagoon. It only works in the right conditions, right wind at the right strength etc. and it doesn't happen very often. So when we found it in light wind from the right direction we zoomed over stayed as long as the wind allowed us and it was a treasure.

There were several things that helped make it outstanding, first we found a very close to perfect nautilus shell on the beach on our first day, also the kayaking was epic, challenging and fun, there was entertaining spearfishing and lobster hunting for Neville and we found a picture perfect cave complete with pretty entrance bridge, blue hole, cave pool that doubled as a blowhole in trade winds, all beautifully sunlit through an opening in the limestone roof with a shady spot for hot days, perfection!

Our time in the Loyalties is sadly coming to an end, the wind is shifting again and is encouraging us to make our way back to the mainland where we have a few weeks of exploring the east coast before going back to the marina to investigate the transmission, again.....



July 1st, 2016   |   Baie de Lekiny  Peace and quiet, a Kanak santuary.