We have spent almost a week in Noumea, getting familiar with the lay of the land you might say.
Our biggest stumbling block, surprisingly, hasn’t been the language barrier. I have to admit I am pretty proud of my abilities communicating in French this time around. I have managed not only restaurant orders but telephone calls and getting directions.
And it hasn’t been navigating a new city. Travel often and you develop strategies for blending in with the locals and methods of finding what you want/need quickly.
Oddly enough the biggest culture shock has been the marina. I know that sounds strange since it seems like we just left Vuda Marina, but Fiji ain’t got nothing on New Caledonia in the marina and boat department.
The sheer number of boats in Noumea is staggering. The only reason we are paying for a berth is because the anchorage is a congested gang of less than well-loved sails boats; canvas faded and tattered, the water line a thick smear of scum, sails worn or completely absent. And the marina is no less busy. The “Visitors Dock” is one of four floating pontoons in this particular marina, it not only accommodates 60+ boats it is constantly full, as are all the other berths on all the other pontoons. As are the three other marinas in the area. We realized the other day that this is the first time since Mexico that we’ve been tied alongside in a pen on a pontoon in a proper marina. That was 6 years ago.
It has been convenient to be able to step off the boat without climbing over the bow rail or worrying about the tide, as we had to do in Fiji. And since Port Moselle Marina is located right downtown it has been an easy place to be based from; grocery store, local market, chandlery and bus depot all with a stones throw of our front door. After our particularly salty passage it is nice to have access to unlimited fresh water, laundry facilities, hot showers and free internet. This week was very calm weather wise, but the winds have picked up and Kate is tugging at the dock lines, struggling against the restraints of marina life.
Tomorrow we pay the bill, slip the lines and raise the sails. It’s time to see what else New Caledonia has on offer.