Thursday, March 28, 2013

YOLO island hops back to Noumea

We headed out of the 'lagoon' and into the open waters of the South Pacific Ocean again to take the outside route back up to Noumea.  There are lots of little islets in the area and we went outside the reef to head up and back into the lagoon through a different pass through the reef.
Our first island was Amedee, with the lighthouse quite visible.

Looking out at YOLO from the beach on Amedee.  A resort here brings lots of day visitors, and a few stay in the over-water bungalows.

The lighthouse is well-maintained and you can buy tickets from the ferry to climb the tower when the ferry brings tourists in.

Base of the Amedee lighthouse, built in 1862.  The lighthouse still works.

The reef at the end of the island has its own light so yachts don't get too close to the island.  These waters are strewn with reefs, so navigation needs to be in good light so you can see the shallow water. 

The bungalows on Ilot Maitre.

Ilot Maitre is famous for its huge, shallow, reef-enclosed lagoon where kite surfers flock.  There were dozens of kite surfers here. I'm amazed they don't kill each other in collisions or cut each others' kite strings.

We could watch the kiteboarders from our yacht on the other side of the island.  Big jumps and twists and rooster tails from the good ones!

You can see a kiteboarder in midair in a jump here.

All the dots and speckles are actually kites with people below them on the water.

The moorings at Ilot Maitre.  It was pretty decent snorkeling when the wind finally died down after a couple of days. 

From Ilot Maitre you can actually look across the bay to Noumea, about 7 miles away.  Here you can see the pinkish orange smoke (beind the catamaran) from the mining processing plant on the main bay, Port Moselle.  They have to stop processing when the wind blows towards Noumea as it is pretty toxic to breathe.
A blue and black sea snake in the shower drain on the beach at Amedee.  He came out when the water got too high in the drain (clogged by pine needles, sand and snake) and would recede back down when the water flowed out.  It made me watch the drain as I tried to wash the salt off me.
Another sea snake along the beach.  Good thing these are considered harmless to humans.

You're actually looking through the water at a snake curled up in a hole in a rock ledge near the shore.  I almost reached into the water and grabbed his tail, but then thought better of it.....
 A tricot raye sea snake on the grass in the island.
Kite surfers on Ilot Maitre

Our next stop was Kouare Islet.  Nothing here except birds.

Kouare sandspit by moonlight

Kouare sandspit by day

Kouare sunset

Kouare reef waters
Blue and black sea snake curled up in the sand by the showers.

Big banyan tree on Amedee.

A huge cuttlebone from a cuttle fish, washed up and drying on the shore. I usually see small ones like these in bird cages.

Amedee Island has some expensive visitors; this private helicopter landed, set up a table, this Japanese couple had some wine, and then they all took off again.
After visiting Amedee, Kouare and Ilot Maitre, we had to return to Noumea's harbor, Port Moselle or Orphelinat Bay.  We anchored just between the two bays and dinghied in to clear out.  We had good wind and zig zagged our way around the reefs and out the pass and headed to Australia--five to seven days away. 
Au revoir to the French islands here and off to the land of Oz, where they speak Strine, another dialect of English.

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