Over the weekend some north winds appeared earlier than forecasted. On Sunday morning they eased off, so we left to move up to the protected Prony Bay. We started sailing our way north, but the winds re-appeared and we had to tack several times as the winds increased, and then increased some more. We finally made it into the bay, but the winds were so strong (over 30 knots) we dropped our sails. We then motored the rest of the way up the river to the northern-most anchorage. Here the winds were mostly cut off by surrounding mountains.
The eastern-most part of New Caledonia, where Prony Bay is located, is mostly unpopulated. There are a lot of heavy metals in the area that make it dangerous to drink the water. That’s the reason why there is also a major new mining center located nearby. Our friends call the huge multi-billion dollar mining complex “Mordor” – after the Lord of the Rings home to the evil dark lord. During the day the mining complex has huge smokestacks, giant metal frameworks, and big pipes going over the mountains. At night it lights up the entire area with an eerie orange glow – reminiscent of the movie scenes of Mordor.
The natural areas around Prony Bay, despite being mostly uninhabitable, is a pleasant place to visit. There are beautiful river cascades, hot springs, pleasant walks through tree and flower filled forests, and very few people to be seen. Unfortunately, the mining company has leasing rights to mine the entire area and many of these pretty locations will be strip mined in a few years. We are glad we have had the chance to spend a few days exploring the area before it is erased.
It’s been nice to be in the very protected waters of the river. We had one rainy day here, and a couple of days of strong winds. But, we were safe and secure in the anchorage. We have visited several waterfall cascades, swimming pools, hot springs, and a lake which appears to be formed in a meteor crater. It’s easy to get around because there are mining roads from mines that used to be located in the area decades ago. The terrain is made of of a rocky substance that seems to be mostly impervious to normal erosion and the roads have lasted with little to no maintenance.
I’ll post some photos of the area when we get a better Internet connection. We’ll need to move back out of the bay soon and start heading back to civilization. Here is a map of our location: