This position was the most northerly point we reach of Grand Terre. Sadly we don’t have the time to continue up to the Belep islands. The northern lagoon is by far the most beautiful part of New Caledonia. If a deep blue lagoon dotted with emerald green islands slashed with white beaches is your idea of paradise then this is it. There is not another yacht to be seen only the occasional local aluminium fizz boat. We spoke to a couple of local lads wandering on the reef with a sack. They were fishing for beche de mer – sea cucumbers, considered a delicacy in Japan and Korea. I have it from a reliable source that marinated and thinly sliced it tastes exactly like a tractor tyre. The local markets are also a disappointment. They grow plenty of vegetables but they are all sent down to Noumea. On Saturday in Poum, a reasonable sized small town we expected to buy some fresh veg and fruit. The pickings were lean: two packets of green beans, a squash and a papaya. It was raining heavily which made it an even more depressing sight. Most of the local ladies had given up and were playing Bingo.
We are heading back down the East coast and enjoying the light trade winds for some glorious sailing hard on the wind in the flat sea of the reef protected waters.