July 13, 2006

New Caledonia - Bastille Day

TankNOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA - Our guide book calls this place "The Paris of The Pacific", but, in my opinion it more closely resembles "The Apartide of The Pacific". The local natives (Kanaks) have been trying, unsuccessfully and sometimes violently, for independence from France for many years now. The reality is that the territory is resource rich and France won't give it away without a fight. In fact this morning, as part of the French national holiday, Bastille Day, we took in a genuine French Military parade (pictured above) complete with tanks and attack helicopters. It's sole purpose seeming to be to remind the Kanaks who's the boss in these parts. It was quite a spectacle.

In any case, we made it. Another leg done and another 1200 NM (2200 km) closer to having crossed the Pacific. Of course we landed just as the Bastille Day long weekend was starting. In strict observance of Murphy's Law, we always arrive in a new port when it's most inconvenient for us to re provision. It's alright, We're happy to spend some time here before sailing the last leg to Australia.

The German backpacker we picked up to replace Richard was to help us sail the leg from Tonga to New Caledonia. He turned out to be a dud. The fact that he was seasick for the entire voyage made him unable to help with any chores or watches along the way. I feel bad that his experience was so miserable I wouldn't wish that kind of seasickness on anybody. Upon arrival, he scurried ashore as faster than I thought possible and hasn't been heard from since. Sailing isn't for everybody. We're now only half looking for a new crew member; one that won't puke every few minutes. If we haven't found one in a weeks time, sailing short handed is no big deal.

For now my goal is to try to see some sights, practice my french and try to buy a pair of long pants. It seems that my best, and only, pair of jeans vanished somewhere between Tahiti and here. We are far enough South and deep enough into the Southern Winter that this has become a priority.