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Eclipse of the Sun

October 10th, 2011 · No Comments

OK the sun eclipse wasn’t this year, it was on 6th September 1774. We stopped on the island on the north east end of New Caledonia which Captain Cook used to make observations of this eclipse. The island is tiny so you can be pretty confident that you have walked on the same spot as Cook himself.

This was the first place Cook saw in New Caledonia and it does indeed look like Scotland. Just have to avoid concentrating on the mangrove swamps and keep admiring the hills! The anchorage is behind the reefs and was amazingly quiet. It was here that much of the early European interaction took place. After Cook came Entrecasteaux and then Kermadec in 1783 who died of a tropical decease and is buried on the island. Catholic Mission followed in 1843 and the French claimed New Caledonia here in 1853. May be we got the same reception as Cook! There were three younger men on the beach waving big arm movements and so we detoured to go ashore there. They were about to BBQ some small fish they had caught. We said we wanted to go up the river to the church so one of them waded out until he could see the correct entrance to use for the river that winds through the mangroves.

This September the Kanaks put up a monument to note that they had been under French control for some 150 years. This is close to the church and beside the monument put up by the colonials marking the claim of NC for France. There were other reminders of the tension that still exists. An excellent bridge had been built recently over a river to replace an Army style single track emergency bridge. It was finished complete with tarmac and then stones placed to ensure it wasn’t used. Likewise a new market facility with roof and tiled benches – unused. Market is advertised as Saturdays and we duly arrived in time. When we asked, “Was there a market”. Non. The body language was “and why do want to know anyway”!

Enjoying some great sailing inside the coral reef. Water is flat and you make fast progress even to windward.

Position of Ile Poudioue where Cook viewed the Eclipse: 20°17’S 164°29’E [-20.287,164.491]

Tags: At Sea