MAXING OUT IN
Exit Only sailed twice to New Caledonia during our voyage around
the world. Once we sailed there from New Zealand, and the second
time we sailed there from Australia. One of our
favorite anchorages in New Caledonia was at the Carenage in Prony Bay.
Prony Bay reeks with history. It has miles of shoreline
where you can explore the ruins of yesteryear. You can visit
the ghost towns and grave yards of mining operations where they
stripped the hillsides of nickel and iron ore. The small
island of New Caledonia has more nickel ore for it's size than any
other area on planet earth. When it rains in Prony, the
color of the water quickly changes to a reddish brown hue.
The clay hillsides and tailings from all the old mines wash down
into the bay.
Prony bay is a Venus Fly Trap. It looks inviting, and the
anchorages appear protected. But when a wind switch occurs,
the hard bottom of the bay may prevent your anchor from resetting.
If that happens in middle of the night, it's time for an anchor
drill that might last all night long.
We always picked our anchorages well when cruising the rim of
Prony. We dragged our 60 pound CQR anchor more than once
there, and after those experiences I finally was convinced that I
needed to switch over to a Beugel anchor so I could sleep soundly
through the night in all weather conditions.
In this picture you can see Exit Only lying peacefully at anchor
in the Carenage. In the upper right corner of the picture
there are mud flats that dry out at low tide and cover at
high tide. One night in the Carenage, Exit Only dragged her
60 pound CQR anchor in fifty knots of wind, and we ended up
temporarily on the mud flats at high tide. We had both
engines running in the gale force winds, and we watched the depth
sounder go from twelve feet to zero as we dragged up on the flats.
I kept waiting for the CQR to dig in, but it never did. In
driving rain and high winds, we motored off the flats. Since
there were no waves, we never bumped on the bottom, but it was
imperative that we get off the flats before the tide went out or
we would be stranded high and dry. We pulled in close to the
rocky shore of the Carenage behind a headland, put down the anchor
once again, and ran both engines all night long keeping the strain
off the anchor. That night, nine inches of rain fell in
Prony, and later we heard that near hurricane force winds had
swept over New Caledonia.
We weren't alone in Prony Bay that night. There were other
boats in our protected "hurricane hole", and they also dragged
anchor during the night.
Although I am not a brave person, we went through our Prony Bay
gale without fear springing up in our heart. I think the
reason was because we were in a catamaran, and we had two engines
to back us up when trouble came our way. The twenty-eight
horsepower Yanmars purred on through the night and kept us safe
during the worst of the storm. If I had been in a monohull, I think I would have been really worried, because if I
lost my single engine, I might have lost my boat. Having two
engines to back us up made a big difference.
Although I don't worship at the altar of security, I do everything
possible to push the odds in my favor. Two engines are a
good insurance policy that helps guarantee a safe voyage around
That night, when the storm maxed out in Prony Bay, we maxed out on
Exit Only and came through a sleepless night with flying colors.
Thank you Exit Only. You are a strong and trustworthy yacht.
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