New Caledonia - Profile
- New Caledonia is the French Overseas Territory of Nouvelle Calédonie. The main island is the mountainous Grande Terre, 250 miles (400 km) long and 30 miles (48 km) wide. Also part of the territory are the off lying islands, the Loyalty Group about 100 miles to the east (Maré, Lifou and Ouvéa), the Ile des Pines (50 miles to the south), the Chesterfield Islands (500 miles west), and Belep Island (20 miles to the north).
- Grande Terre also boasts one of the largest insular coral reefs in the world, and one can sail around much of the island inside the reef.
- In in the past troubles flared up as a separatist movement grew up among the indigenous Melanesians demanding independence from France. Peace accords were signed with the separatists in 1998, with the promise of a referendum on possible independence at some point in the future. The current situation seems peaceful and stable, and the French have made an obvious effort to improve the country’s infrastructure.
- Nouméa itself is a cosmopolitan city and an excellent place to reprovision the boat, as virtually everything is available. Noumea offers all facilities that cruisers may have missed whilst sailing the Pacific, such as dairy products, big supermarkets, wines and health services. Perhaps not the cheapest place to provision, Noumea however offers a remarkable range of products imported from New Zealand, Australia and France.
- Facilities are extensive as there is a fairly large local yacht population. The new marina facilities at Port Moselle are situated in the heart of Noumea and are central to everything. The marina is fast becoming a haven for cruising people in the cyclone season, but marina places are already scarce.
- Other ports with some facilities for yachts are Touho on the East Coast of the mainland, and Koumac in the north-west of the mainland.
- When sailing around the Loyalty Islands or in the north of New Caledonia, one should pay the traditional call to the chief of the tribe or village. This is an important token gesture and the usual gift is a stick of tobacco, a length of cloth, a souvenir T-shirt from your country, or some money (500 or 1000 Pacific Francs); rice or food may be appropriate for more remote tribes. Always ask permission before taking photographs or picking fruit.
Cyclone preparations begin in New Caledonia on 1 December, and the season lasts until the beginning of May, when it is more humid and warm. It is cool and dry from April to August, when the prevailing SE trades are stronger.
VHF Radio Weather Schedule Ch: 16 - 06.30, 09.30, 15.15 then change to:
CH 23 Ouvea
CH 24 Northern Grande Terre
CH 25 Kafete, Isle of Pines
CH 26 Noumea, Lifu
CH 28 central Grande Terre
CH 82 Isle of Pines
CH 87 Mare
FM Radio (89FM) 05.58, 14.58.
Meteo France Outre-mer (in French)
A useful guide to South Pacific weather resources complied by a Noonsite contributor, Rory Garland.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.