Leaving New Zealand for New Caledonia on s/y Manta

New Zealand part II - Posted On

Nadège writes:

Opua, Bay of Islands, March.

As we are looking for a sailboat to go to New Caledonia, we are told that most of them wouldn’t start before May (because of the cyclone season ending in April), whereas we hoped to leave start of April. 

But all along our travel, we have learnt not to believe people telling us the word « impossible!! ». Although there are only few sailboats leaving at that time, we keep searching. 

Luck appears, once more. One day, by chance, we meet Denis Pinard, the s/v Manta’s captain. He owns a catamaran big enough for three people and two bikes easy! He’s leaving in the very afternoon for New Caledonia but he accepts to delay his departure of 12h, so that to allow us to pack our stuff on his boat and to change the customs paperwork.

With seven days on sea, we really appreciate the good mood of the captain, and some good fishing when a big tazar catch the line at 12 o’clock precisely, as foreseen by the captain. The wind keep coming from the SSE, very steady, giving us no manoeuvres all along. The two front wings are open like butterflies propelling us straight to our destination.

The third day crossing happens something very strange: 

Quite far from the northernmost point of New Zealand, where we don’t expect to see much boats, the radar detector, used for getting the radar waves of the big boats and so detecting the presence of a potential dangerous collision, starts beeping extremely quickly. We just have time to look outside, seeing a huge plane not even a hundred of meters away speeding right on us! A storm passes away, and it’s gone…. The channel 16 on the VHF informs us the NZ army plane was just checking what boat we were…  We feel very much happy not to be in war with them, seeing how much vulnerable we would have been if attacked by such powerful machine!

Last week, we received a very strange and happy message surprise, proving that there can always be hope, even lost on a desert island:

“Hi Nate / Olivia,

Your message which was dropped from a sailing vessel from PECC, cruising from new caledonia to new zealand, 2012 was found by me on the remote beach of far north queensland in australia when i went for beachcombing! The bottle was found at cape bedford, north of cooktown, which is 350kilometers north of cairns, qld. It was found 2 wks ago and i completely forgot to reply! If you get this e-mail, please do reply just to let me know that you know that your message in a bottle was found!

Best Wishes, Reshmi”

It was the third we threw total… Very much unexpected! Therefore we throw another bottle, a Pastis one, sponsored and drunk by our dear captain Pinard who really deserve his name (means ‘wine’ in familiar French), just to see if it would work again!