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Old 18-08-2013, 23:58   #1
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Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Hi,

Some friends of mine are sailing near New Caledonia and are thinking about spending the cyclone season there. Can anyone suggest a harbor or another island that may be a good place for them to ride out the next 4 - 6 months? They are a very talented couple sailing a 26' Contessa and would be a good addition to any community.

Thanks for your help
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Old 19-08-2013, 02:13   #2
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

If you Google Map "Noumea" you see some pretty full and sophisticated boat harbours.
Can't imagine all those boats leaving so I guess its common to sit out the season there.
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Old 19-08-2013, 08:40   #3
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

If they wish to stay in the Noumea region, and if the draft of their Contessa is <6 ft as I believe it is, then Port Laguerre, about 12 miles N of Petite Rade is an excellent cyclone anchorage. There is a mangrove river there with adequate depth once over the flats at the entrance. Early arrival is recommended due to potential crowding.

Cheers,

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Old 19-08-2013, 09:30   #4
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

The Dumbea river running into Dumbea/Gadji Bay also looks like a possibility, any idea how deep it is? The Island looks like a paradise ~ I'm hoping to personally deliver some spare parts to save on postage:-)
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Old 19-08-2013, 10:02   #5
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

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Originally Posted by Ondine View Post
The Dumbea river running into Dumbea/Gadji Bay also looks like a possibility, any idea how deep it is? The Island looks like a paradise ~ I'm hoping to personally deliver some spare parts to save on postage:-)
The approach area is not charted AFAIK, and appears to be extremely shallow. I've not heard of anyone navigating in the upper reaches of that bay, let alone the entrance to the river... don't think that it is accessible.

Cheers,

Jim

PS New Cal has long been one of our favorite cruising destinations... the delights of a small French city, yet within an easy day sail, one can be the only boat in an anchorage.
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Old 19-08-2013, 10:12   #6
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Most yachts Hitail it out of the Islands before the end of November for the Cyclone season and head to either OZ or NZ or elsewhere,

Muscat Cove in Fiji, Has an area surround by hills That they lift a draw bridge to get the boats into in case of cyclones,

Efate in Vanuatu, has a very deep channel running between Efate and the two Islands to the west of it, Would be safe in a cyclone,

You can Google these spots,
Where ever you park, make sure the wave surge wont get to you, They can be 6 metres high,

You need to be protected on all four sides by reasonably high hills, and a couple of bends in a river,

As soon as the Cyclone has passed, Get out of the river, Immediately, The floods coming down the rivers, will pull your boat under the water with the debris caught on the anchor chain,

Dead Calm, Very strange looking Pink Sky, Dead Silence, Very Erie,

Cyclone will be on your head in about 8 hours,
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Old 19-08-2013, 12:50   #7
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Baie de Prony, E of Noumea. Excellent protection all-round and fabulous holding (mud bottom + mangroves/trees onshore.

b.
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Old 19-08-2013, 13:10   #8
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Baie de Prony, E of Noumea. Excellent protection all-round and fabulous holding (mud bottom + mangroves/trees onshore.

b.
Baie de Carenage (sp?) in Prony used to be the favored cyclone anchorage. The combination of its rather small well protected area and the proliferation of yachts in New Cal have lead to its being, IMO, dangerously overcrowded when a storm approaches. It is also subject to some funneling effects with winds from some quarters. If you get there early enough to side tie to the few mangroves and trees that adjoin water of adequate depth it is fine,but there are only a couple of such spots.

And re Pt Vila: the area referred to by Mr B is very deep (around 100 feet) with only narrow shelves of coral rubble and sand at the edges. Big local commercial boats with gnarly steel hulls flock in when cyclones threaten, nose into the "beach", tie to trees ashore and then the crews desert them. Every time a cyclone has hit in recent years one or more have gotten loose and done damage to others. Be one of my last choices in Vanuatu! When we were threatened by Xavier a few years ago we beat our way from Santo down to Pt. Sandwich. This is the best cyclone anchorage in Vanuatu IMO, with decent protection, decent holding and a fairly large area suitable to yachts. For smaller multis there is a creek at the head of the bay, and with some attention one can work well up into perfect protection.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 21-08-2013, 11:48   #9
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

That's a lot of information to ponder. Thanks for all of your opinions and for sharing your experiences and knowledge.

I'm here on shore longing to be afloat again. This weekend I'm racing on a Farr 52 to Drakes Bay but it's just not like making a passage or living aboard.

You all be safe and fair winds!

Kate
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Old 21-08-2013, 12:15   #10
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Hello Ondine,

The entirety of how long their visa is good for would have something to do with their strategy. Cruising in New Cal during cyclone season has lovely weather (except for the storms), and the water has warmed up nicely.

In addition to the places Jim mentioned, there are a couple of other places the local people go for cyclones: Canala is one, and the Boat Passage in the north is another. In addition, a shallow draft vessel could get into the river that descends from Bourail; and we met someone who had gone through a cyclone at Ouano, northeast of Passe Ourai north of Baie de St. Vincent on the SW coast, which has almost got all 'round protection.

However, I would not want to spend the whole season in Noumea, and nor would I recommend any marina there other than Marina Moselle. Incidentally, it is possible to purchase short term cyclone insurance there in Noumea, including for the season. However, I believe cyclone season is considered by the French to last 3 months there, whereas cyclones have occurred as early as mid-October (the one Jim mentioned that we hid out from in Pt. Sandwich) and November (we hid out in Marina Sud for that one), and we once experienced one at Raoul Is. on May 15. So the actual season and safe travel times are different from the "assumptive knowledge" or customary beliefs.

I actually think NZ or Australia make better cyclone season destinations. There's lots of good cruising both places, and the people are quite friendly to Americans, although, the people of New Caledonia have also been quite friendly to us, as well. It is just the Visa limitation of 3 months that is a worry.
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Old 21-08-2013, 12:20   #11
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Hi again,

I just noticed that you might be taking them some spare parts. Easiest to do in Noumea. But excellent bus service to outlying towns (Bourail is one). And it just so happens that we have dinghied up the river to Bourail from the anchorage, so I KNOW that can be done as well.

If your friends consult with the Douane (Customs) first, the import duty on imported parts can be waived for a yacht in transit. This must be done from Noumea as well, at least as far as I know.

Enjoy the Farallones Race.

Ann
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Old 21-08-2013, 12:34   #12
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

There are 2 possibilities in Port Vila.

Grab a mooring at the near end of the inner harbour because the commercial vessels are all at the far end. If any come loose they will have to get through a wall of other boats first. There are always lots of empty moorings during the season.

If you don't like the look of the inner harbour head over to the little bay behind the commercial wharf. That is directly below a hill and gets no waves. The shore behind it is all sand and the water is only 15 - 30ft deep. These 2 places are only 1/2 mile apart.
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Old 23-08-2013, 14:37   #13
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr B View Post
Efate in Vanuatu, has a very deep channel running between Efate and the two Islands to the west of it, Would be safe in a cyclone,
AKA "The Bowling Alley". Too deep to anchor, moorings are dodgy and fill up very quickly. Not to be recommended. My only choices in Vanuatu are Port Sandwich, Peterson Bay and possibly Havannah Harbour. New Cal is much better and they have a very sophisticated alert and warning system.
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Old 23-08-2013, 15:07   #14
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

How many inner harbour moorings have you seen break ?
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Old 23-08-2013, 15:14   #15
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Re: Cyclone season harbor in New Caledonia?

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AKA "The Bowling Alley". Too deep to anchor, moorings are dodgy and fill up very quickly. Not to be recommended. My only choices in Vanuatu are Port Sandwich, Peterson Bay and possibly Havannah Harbour. New Cal is much better and they have a very sophisticated alert and warning system.
We have two "nays" for Pt Vila... any other "ayes" for this dubious cyclone anchorage?

Really, guys, does not the past history of damaged boats there mean anything to you?

If you really want to stay on one of the moorings you would be well advised to dive it, check the status of everything and reeve a second pennant. What you will find in situ is three strand polypropylene, unknown age, and about 7/8"or so in diameter. Oh, do remember that the mooring may lie in 125 feet depth, so it isn't a casual dive for the typical yottie, and it takes a fairly decent bit of string to double it.

Cheers,

Jim
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