Ann sent this a few days ago - I apologize for the delay in posting it
We are safe and sound in Noumea, New Caledonia. New Caledonia was colonized by the French and although there was talk of independence in the later 90's I don't think they have that status yet. There is a lot of nickel on the island so there is money and the French are very good at building infrastructure so Noumea is a first world city. It has lots of new cars and three lane roadways where the French drivers roar around as is they are on a Grand Priz course. The shops are full of first world goods and there is French fashion and underwear as well as a hairdresser on every corner. I walked by a Puegot bike shop and lusted after an expensive mountain bike. The shores are full of big condo complexes and the marinas are full of lovely yachts, there is no room for us lowly cruisers. The main marina has a waiting list while all the off shore cruisers have congregated here, waiting to leave for Australia, New Zealand or Fiji for the cyclone season. We are at anchor in a mooring field which is not a lot of fun. Mooring are usually laid out in a specified manner leaving swinging room for yachts the bigger the yachts the further the moorings are apart. Moorings have a short scope and mostly a huge weight at the bottom that secures the boat. When you are at anchor you have to let out chain, and you are supposed to maintain a scope of 5 - 1 or at the least 3-1, so for a 10 meter depth the minimum amount of chain would be 30 meters, therefore if the wind shifts and you swing when you have anchored in a mooring field you may or may not hit the boats that are around you depending on how precise you were at dropping your anchor and how much scope you have out. At the moment when the wind really blows from one direction we are about 1 boat length away from a moored trimaran and the wind has been really blowing since we got here 2 1/2 days ago. There was a huge high off of Australia and it has generated 30 knot winds, everyone is hunkered down on their boats because when you go anywhere on your dinghy you just get soaked and you daren't leave your boat because you might swing and hit someone or someone's mooring might give way and their boat might blow through the field and bash you, fun and games. We have been doing some maintenance, Barry has checked all the hose clamps. That is why the engine wouldn't start while we tried to get into Lifou because a hose clamp had rusted out and not enough water was getting to the engine. Then he figured he may have found a small leak we had in the engine coolant system. We still have to get the sail repaired, we are waiting for the winds to abate before we try to remove it. I want to work on some hairline cracks we are have in our deck, so we have lots to do before we set off for Australia. Barry wants to leave as soon as there is a weather window, hopefully we won't be ready to leave when the first window arrives and we will have a little more time to spend exploring New Caledonia.