Quick Fix: 22° 28.6 S / 166° 27.8 E
September 25th, 2016 (day 3,405)
Conditions:  Wind: 11/W  Sky: Clear

Race Day
With no apparent official starter canon, team Dream Time, with the loudest foghorn in the spectator anchorage, unofficially began
New Caledonia's fifth Groupama Race - a 654 mile course that circumnavigates Grande Terre. Nineteen yachts entered this year's competition, from a one hundred foot black rocketship that towered over the competition, a colorful trimaran that appeared to run circles around the others, to a thirty foot monohull with a spinnaker dwarfed by the professionals. The colorful trimaran, Team Vodafone Sailing, a New Zealand vessel, has a strong lead over the pack. Two Hong Kong racers, Scallywag and Beau Geste are riding her wake but show little chance of catching up. To see the action for yourself, check out the live tracker feed on www.groupamarace.nc




September 25th, 2016   |  A Sunday sail - New Caledonia Groupama Race


Quick Fix: 22° 16.6 S / 166° 26.4 E
September 22nd, 2016 (day 3,402)
Conditions:  Wind: 8/W Sky: Clear

An Official Posting
Our Australian mate is flying over to New Caledonia tomorrow. He's got a one-way ticket which means the airline won't allow him to board the plane in Sydney without means and proof of a return. So today we drafted a Crew Letter, stating that he'll be sailing with us back to Australia, and went over to the immigration office in Noumea to have it officially stamped. Now normally immigration offices have warnings displaying illegal vessels, pirates, drug runners, scallywags and the like. So we were a little worried when, after recognizing Dream Time's name, the officer in charge pointed to a picture of us on his notice board. I had flashbacks when in 1994 I was temporarily banned from Australia, but this time we could relax, it was the cover of Ocean Voyager magazine, and we were free to leave.


Quick Fix: 22° 28.6 S / 166° 27.8 E
September 18th, 2016 (day 3,398)
Conditions:  Wind: 12/SE  Sky: Clear

The Scenic Route
We're officially making our way back to the capital to prepare Dream Time for our passage, but we keep getting distracted along the way. Yesterday, for example, we stopping at Ilot Amédée, a tiny island only 12 miles from Noumea, and one that boasts the world's tallest iron lighthouse. Built in France, shipped over in pieces and reassembled in 1865, Phare Amédée has been guiding ships safety into New Caledonian waters for over 150 years. It underwent a little restoration last year and only recently reopened. So today, with idyllic weather that's forecast to continue all week, we took a look inside and climbed the 247 steps to the observation platform 184 feet above sea level. We had a perfect 360 degree view of the lagoon, we could clearly see Noumea, it's very close, but there's 3 more islands on the way, so we may get a little sidetracked.




September 16th, 2016   |  Gateway to the southern lagoon.


Quick Fix: 22° 27.3 S / 166° 46.7 E
September 15th, 2016 (day 3,395)
Conditions:  Wind: 20-30/ESE  Sky: Clear

We're exploring Baie de la Tortue and the surrounding coves in an area which lays on the northern rim of the southern lagoon. It's a tranquil place with a shallow bay sloping gently to a beach shaded by palms. The wind's gusting to thirty knots but the anchorage is flat and calm. So tranquil, in fact, that it seems all the locals have decided to come here, too. Today we've been visited by turtles (which is to be expected) a school of dolphins and a dugong! We've spent a month visiting our favorite anchorages in a farewell tour of the lagoon, but we're heading back to Noumea to prepare for our trip. It'll be an 800 nautical miles passage to Bundaberg, Australia, so we've got to ready Dream Time. But more importantly, we'll be meeting an old friend, someone I sailed with out of Australia over 22 years ago, and who may decide to join us for our epic return...




September 15th, 2016   |  Rock climbing on plage Onaore.


September 13th, 2016   |  A farewell tour of the southern lagoon. We'll be looking for weather windows over to Australia in about two weeks...


Day 3,392 - Ilot Kouare (22° 33.0S 166° 47.8E)
19:31hrs - September 12th 2016
Exposed in The Tropics

We admire intrepid cruisers, captains and crew intent on sailing high latitudes, enduring chilly challenges around distant windswept capes, but we have little interest in exploring regions that require anything more than board shorts and bikinis. Shimmering lagoons, remote coral atolls, uninhabited sandy isles – we seek the tropics, the warm, quiet, sundrenched corners of our planet, and since we left New York we’ve spent the majority of our time happily bobbing between latitudes 10 and 22 degrees in the South Pacific.

Typically the long-term cruising boats in these parts can be easily spotted by the sheer square footage of canvas draped over them. During New York summers we rarely saw or needed anything more than a bimini for cockpit shade, but when we sailed south to the Florida Keys in 2007, and then deeper into the Caribbean in 2008, sheltering in Guatemala for hurricane season, we experienced, for the first time, the full and relentless searing heat of the tropics, and we felt completely exposed. But now, after 30,000 nautical miles of sunny sailing and a summer cyclone season herein New Caledonia, Dream Time, once bare and unprotected with nary a shady accessory, sports a full complement of canopies.

We take pride in our boat, but we’re not the kind to wipe early morning dew off varnish work to save the finish. She’s a cruising vessel, a little scarred, salty and fully lived in. We rarely frequent marinas, so she only gets a fresh water rinse when it rains, stainless work is seldom stainless, and exterior teak is coated in Cetol rather than glossy varnish. But over nine years of blue water sailing, we’ve learned the value, comfort and convenience of a few strategically placed covers.

We have canopies over the entire foredeck, the quarter deck, a fully battened canopy above the boom, and a variety of cockpit canvas and accessories to zip-in and shield us from sun, spray, rain or mosquitoes. But we don’t want to live in a canvas cave, we enjoy being outside, so over the years they’ve been adjusted in size, position and color to give us the best combination of protection and freedom.

But they do more than provide just a little shade to shelter teak, cool the cabin and protect crew. Our canopies (all made with Sunbrella) are sacrificial covers, our first line of defense against tropical wear and tear. They’re easy and inexpensive to repair, durable, and can remain rigged even when trades are blowing at twenty knots. But more importantly, they keep our more expensive sail covers, cushions, dodger and deck hardware almost fully protected from UV damage. They’re also practical in other areas: serving as rain catchers – funneling water right into our tanks; they provide shelter so hatches can remain open even during tropical downpours – allowing fresh air to flow through the cabin; and they enable us to make full use of our deck space.

But one of the most enjoyable benefits of our shelter is swinging in the shade of in our hammock, which is rigged under our main canopy from shroud to topping lift. It’s an idyllic spot to read, nap or just soak-up the view, and the best part, as we’re fully protected from the sun, clothing is optional.





Day 3,383 - Ilot Kouare (22° 46.6S 166° 47.9E)
19:31hrs - September 3rd 2016
A Race Against Pirates

Put two yachts abeam, or barely within sight of one another, it doesn't matter what class they are, how dissimilar they may be, or even if they're just out for a mellow Sunday sail, but furled canvas will quickly be shaken loose, winches will start grinding and before you know it, a race is on.

For the last week we've been sailing with new Australian cruising buddies, Chris and Megan on their shiny new 44-foot Beneteau, Toothless. They bought the yacht in France only last year before charging across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean and this year, the South Pacific Ocean. They're the generous sort and usually give us a head start, but before long Dream Time is left bobbing in their wake, catching them only at anchor.

Under the circumstances this wouldn't be humiliating as not only does Toothless have a longer waterline and classified a 'racer/cruiser', but Chris ('Nico') also happens to be an Olympic sailor and a professional Volvo Ocean Race Skipper - you know, those high-performance sixty-five foot mono hull rocket ships that shoot around the world at twenty knots in some of the most inhospitable conditions imaginable.

But the other day, after chasing Toothless downwind to Ilot Koaure, it was a little embarrassing to discover over our beach fire consolation dinner, that rather than being out-sailed by Chris, Toothless was in the tiny yet capable hands of his four year old son, Tully, who can barely see over the helm. And to add insult to injury, he was dressed as a pirate.


September 1st, 2016   |  22 46.4'S / 166 48.0'E - Home, for the last four idyllic days.


September 1st, 2016   |  Ilot KouareSouthern lagoon living: sandy islands, reef, coral, fish, snorkeling, spearfishing and driftwood fires - perfection.