admin, wrote on November 15, 2017:

Time stands still; Baie De Gadji

Baie de Gadji was for us, a bit like a big, powder-blue bubble. A bubble that keeps the rest of the world at bay and the select few in its inner circle floating in a surreal time warp…. Time seemed to stand still while we were nestled in this bay. Located on the northwest side of Ile des Pins (the isle of Pines) and within the massive fringing reef that lagoons most of New Caledonia, Gadji is pretty damn close to anchorage-heaven; bleached white beaches, countless uninhabited islands, turquoise blue water and world-class snorkelling….


Above left- we sailed down from up Noumea-way with SV Fluenta. Ile de Pins lies exactly upwind from the main island and often it is a slog into the tradewinds to get there. The south easterlies tweaked around to the north east for a day, so we made the 60 mile run for it. Two other kid-boats (Invictus and Excallibar) were also aiming for the same shallow anchorage in the Baie De Gadji lagoon…


Above; New Caledonia is the world’s largest marine park and encircles 1.3 million kilometers of protected waters. The coral reef ecosystems are extremely diverse. Just in the area surrounding Baie De Gadji the snorkelling never once got dull and we explored to our heart’s content. The clarity of the water, steep coral garden drop-offs, deep chasms, reef sharks, sea snakes and an abundance of tropical fish made every snorkel trip an invigorating adventure…  


Above; this perspective gives you a sense of the expansiveness of the bay…time really did stand still at Gadji.


Above; brain coral… I love the light plays gifted to me by sunny days and shallow water snorkelling on stunning coral. The colours pop as sunlight beams through the water and highlights coral in contrast to the sapphire backdrop. There is so much texture in the reef!


Above; the reefs were teeming with fish- being underwater was like being inside an aquarium…

We were very happy that Fluenta came into the Gagji lagoon to play with us. The anchorage is shallow (about 2m) and most monohulls tend to sit in the deeper water outside of the bay. SV Excallibur (also a monohull) parked in the lagoon, but she is a ‘centerboarder’ rather than a fixed keel and therefore her keel can be effectively lifted and she can sneak into shallow anchorages usually reserved for catamarans…. Fluenta’s keel is very much fixed. I think she had just 30cm below at low tide…


Kai and Jaiya had their first ever kid-only camp-out with the Fluenta kids well over a year ago in Fiji. Since then it has become a favourite thing to do with other boat kids. In the weeks before Gadji, there had been talk of getting more adventurous; they didn’t want to get dropped off but instead planned to get to the chosen spot off their own steam. They wanted multiple days and loved the idea of taking off without a fixed idea of where to camp; It was to be an exploration of multiple islands before finding a suitable location and then pitching tents. They certainly didn’t want to be on the beach right in front of parents anchored with the big boats and, ideally, mums and dad’s should not be privy to the exact location of the secret kids camp….

There were 5 kids in total. They packed their gear and, after agreeing to report in the coordinates of the camp and sticking to twice-daily radio scheds, they took off in the two sailing dinghies; the girls in Fluenta’s ‘Trickle’ (below right) and the boys in Tika-taka (below left) I love Trickle as much as I love Tika-Taka but for different reasons- she is sooo cute!  


Below; we were strictly forbidden to eye-ball the secret spot-X kids camp, but we did cheekily use the coordinates to fly the spy-drone overhead Smile  We were pleased to see how well they had managed the dinghies- rafting Trickle up to Tika-Taka with both bow and stern anchors. How adorable is Trickle next to Tika-Taka?


After two very relaxing child-free nights, the kids came home and Russ came up with the idea of setting up an anchorage race-course. The  Great Gadji Regatta was born; a truly thrilling sporting event that pitted sailing dinghy against windsurfer, child against adult, personal bests’ against latest times and the sound of the hooter against the peace and quiet of the anchorage. Depending on the wind direction, either Excallibur, Fluenta or Tika acted as the start boat or finishing line and a buoy set by Russ was the top mark. It became a daily event along with swinging off halyard-attached fenders, sharing pot lucks ashore and hanging out on each other’s floating homes….



Underwater botanical gardens! pristine corals, vibrant colours and the sunlight beyond the surface…



Above left; beautiful whip coral- one of my favourite soft corals.

Above right; Jaiya sailing Trickle…



Below; a yoga buddy!! Elizabeth from Fluenta shares my passion for yoga and so we found the perfect space under a shady tree and practiced (almost) daily…Memories of opening my eyes after meditation and having the view take my breath away still echo in my mind. Calm water and gleaming beaches infused with the golden glow of a tropical sunset…delicious soul-food. 


Above left; SUP-ping to yoga

Above right; My yoga buddy Liz- with the hanging charms we made during a creative moment on Tika…


Above left; phot credit; Liz (SV Fluenta) she snapped this one without my knowledge as I was totally in the yoga zone.

Above right; Liz on her way up in a paddle-board head stand.

Below; I was snorkelling alone when I spotted this white tipped reef shark. She was super curious and came right up to me to check me out. She decided I wasn’t that interesting after all and continued cruising along the edge of the reef…


The Gadji adventures aren’t complete without the tale of Ducky…

A catamaran pulled into the bay and we were all excitedly eyeing them off as we had individually concluded that they had kids aboard- yay! more kids! There are tell tale signs you see- lots of laundry on the life-lines, toys lashed on the deck and little people swinging from the mast are all dead give-aways. We usually pick a kid-boat from half a mile away. This one had two ‘hello-we-have-children” clues hanging off their sterns; a massive, inflatable, pink, rainbow unicorn and…. ‘Ducky’

Before our eyes Ducky made a run for it. The wind was up, he broke his tether and was gunning for the pass between two islands. Russ started commentating from Tika’s decks and we all watched enthralled as the drama played out. Ducky’s head was bobbing up and down with the strain of his escape and the bloke from the boat was after him on his SUP. We wondered how on earth he would get Ducky back up wind on his board- it was blowing about 15 knots! “go Ducky go!” we cried…he could taste his freedom and he wasn’t looking back…

And he would have made it too if Max from Fluenta hadn’t joined in the chase with his outboard and herded Ducky into his dinghy. We were in tears of laughter watching Ducky zoom across the bay back to his boat- you couldn’t see much of Max and something about the profile of Ducky’s sunglass-adorned face…..

As it turned out, the boat didn’t have kids, but it’s new owners had just purchased it from a family who did. We were on the beach one night when a radio call came through to a hand held VHF “if any of you kids want the duck- first one here and it’s yours!” 6 kids ran for the dinghy and zoomed out to them- and so Ducky became another Gadji toy. He slowly deflated over the following days and as many as 8 kids clambered, lounged and tormented him into nothing more than a large, yellow dilapidated piece of plastic.

Below left; Max towing Ducky; who is looking a little sad and deflated after his foiled escape attempt. Poor Ducky- he came so close to getting away!  



Above right; a calm day at Gadji turns it into one big swimming pool…


Above; giant clams and bright stag horns…

Below; we had a couple of remora or suckerfish permanently living under Tika’s hulls during our stay at Gadji…


Remora’s are usually seen sucking onto host marine animals such as sharks, rays, turtles and whales, but I think these guys were waiting for scraps from Tika’s galley….

Below left- I have been trying to get a cross section shot that shows under the water as well as an island and the sky. I like the purple sky in this one created by the red filter on the go-pro.

Below right; red pencil urchins everywhere!


Below; the driftwood, shell and bead charms by Greer and Liz.


Below; we planned a Halloween party Jaiya and Victoria got busy making eyeball cakes and witch-finger cookies…






Below; the Great Gadji Regatta is on!



Above; the finishing line ran between Fluenta (on the left) and Excallibur (on the right….)


Above left; I love pencil urchins. When they ‘shed’ their spines you can find clusters of them and they make great wind charms. I have purple ones and red ones on the boat……

Above middle; Johnathon (Fluenta) doing circus tricks on a fender hanging from our halyard.

Above right; sailing Tika-taka to a free-dive spot in the outer reef. We didn’t put the outboard on Tika-taka once. We were usually the last to arrive at the regular shore gatherings, bbq’s and pot lucks but we arrived in style Smile One of my favourite memories is gliding home after a night ashore. An outboard doesn’t allow for chatting and winding down under a star-lit sky as the ink black water slaps against Tika-taka’s hull….



Above; A friend once said that Tika looks like the Millennium Falcon! I think this shot highlights that and I love the way she appears to hover on the aqua-marine water…



Above; classic shot of Max from Fluenta that Kai captured flying the drone…




Above right; Nicholas from Exallibur moving windsurfing gear from the shore and between boats for the regatta. It has been so nice to meet another windsurfing family!

Just to prove that sailing is not all postcard views, nemo fish and oversized yellow bath toys, I feel compelled to tell you about Russel’s infected ankle. While working on deck, windsurfing or playing with engines, desalinaters, pumps and the like, Russ is the one who tends to get little nicks and cuts on his extremities. This sailing season many of them have got infected and caused deep abscesses and quite severe swelling and cellulitus. In 2017 he has been through 6 courses of antibiotics. Infections in the tropics are quite common but golden staph is resistant to many antibiotics and can re-occur and cause on-going problems. We scheduled in a doctor’s visit in Noumea and re-stocked Tika’s medical kit with antibiotics and antibiotic cream. In Gadji, Russ was hobbling around with cellulites in his ankle- not that it slowed him down! So sorry but I didn’t take any pictures as there were much more scenic things to photograph. Next time though!

Next post- Gadji the movie….

This entry was posted in The Sail.

5 thoughts on “Time stands still; Baie De Gadji

  1. Max Shaw, 17 February 4:42 pm

    Wow. Great blog that captures what a great time we had. Such amazing photos.

    SV Fluenta.

  2. Nat colam, 17 February 8:45 pm

    Wow wow, NC is amazing!!!!! How lucky r u to find anotherwindsurfing kid boat!!!!! What fantastic memories. I love the go pro pics and drone shots. Need to inspire jake with these pics?Natxxxxxx BTW I love how you wrote this blog up Greer very entertaining.

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