Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Caledonia - Baie de Prony and Moose the Island Dog

One of the things we loved about New Caledonia was the contrast of the red, almost barren looking mountains, to the sparkling blues and greens of the lagoon and its many reefs and islands.  On our way back from Isle of Pines, we made a stop at Baie de Prony, a large, enclosed waterway at the southern end of Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia (or the "Baguette" as the kids called it!).  There are many rivers that flow into this waterway and many secluded, sheltered anchorages.

A drone picture of the anchorage in Baie de Prony.  Our anchor came up with thick, red mud!

We anchored in Baie du Carenage and explored the area by dinghy.  We had read and heard about a hot spring in one of the rivers, and easily found it.  The French, being very civilized, had provided sturdy stainless steel ladder at the end of a dock, which then led to a little pool into which the hot spring bubbled.  We utilized the picnic tables and enjoyed a lovely stop with a swim and a lunch of cheese and crackers.

Gaby relaxing...very civilized...very French

We also took the dinghy as far as we could up a river and then walked further upstream to a series of small waterfalls.  The kids were fascinated by the different rocks and the whole day was a lesson in geology as well as erosion and deposition!

This is as far as the dinghy would go up the river

There was red mud everywhere!  Faces were painted and war declared!

The rocks and "waterfalls" that captivated the kids attention.  

The highlight of our visit to Baie du Prony was our time with Moose, the abandoned island dog.  There are lots of videos and photos to share with this story, so put aside some time if you'd like to learn about our beloved Moose, the island dog!

Our buddy Moose

We had learned of Moose before we had even left on our trip, through a video posted by fellow cruisers on catamaran "Impi".  Brent and Ana on Impi had posted a lovely video documenting their time with Moose, which can be seen on their You Tube channel (search You Tube: Catamaran Impi, or the link to the video is: Dog Abandoned on Casy Island), and he stole our hearts.  Moose lives alone on a beautiful island called Ile de Casey.  He was apparently left there when the resort on the island closed down.  He hunts and fishes and plays hosts to any cruisers who stop there, and shows them around the island.  Then, when we were already in New Caledonia, we saw an updated video that Brent and Ana had posted, showing Moose a year later, and in poorer health.  This video is also well worth a watch:  Updated Moose video.  You'll see in this video that Brent and Ana decide that Moose needs to be seen by a vet, and the next video documents this entire effort:  Moose is seen by a flying vet.  We were determined to go and check on Moose.

We picked up a mooring in the anchorage at Ile de Casey, and took the dinghy to the dock.  We anxiously scanned the shoreline looking for Moose.  We couldn't see him.  We called out, "Moose!  Moose!" and still nothing.  We were a little disappointed!  We had expected him to come bounding out on the dock, wagging his tail.  Eventually we saw him coming out of the shadows, slowly walking toward us.  He was wagging his tail, but he wasn't bounding towards us.  He gave us a glance, and then went and sat under the dock!  Oh well...I guess we were more excited to see him, than he was to see us!  We brought him some water and some ham.  When we offered him the ham, he sniffed it, but didn't take it.  He started walking away, but would constantly stop to make sure we were following him.  He led us to a palm tree where a stainless steel bowl was situated, and there was a bunch of ham in there...much more than what we were offering him!  Obviously someone had just left him a nice dinner!  He looked at us as if to say, "you can leave your offering here", which we did, and then he ate it!

Gaby introduces herself to Moose as he lies under the dock

We then got to experience the joy of Moose.  He took us on a tour of his island.  Always walking in front, but always looking back to make sure we were following.  He demonstrated how he dives for, and catches sea cucumbers, and every now and then he would run off into the bushes, chasing a bird or some other creature that could be his dinner.  We had a wonderful day with him, and it was sad to take the dinghy back to the boat, and this time, he watched us leave with a sad look in his eyes (at least I thought so!).

Moose takes us on a tour of his island
Moose demonstrating how he catches sea cucumbers.  Ben nicknamed him "The Aquatic Moose"!

The next morning when we came back, we did get the welcome that we had hoped for on our first meeting.  He sat on the dock waiting for us, and when we dinghyed up to him, his tail was wagging, and he came right up to the dinghy as if to help us disembark!  We brought him some tuna that we had caught and had in the freezer.  We cooked it for him and then rationed it, so he wouldn't eat it all at once, but he seemed to be pretty good about being able to ration food that he got all by himself.  We spent some more time with him, and discovered that he loved to play with the palm fronds, so the kids had a great time playing tug of war with him.

Moose greets us on the dock as we tie up the dinghy


Moose waits for his tuna to be served!
He loved playing tug of war with palm fronds
Moose shows us another part of the island.  Here you can see the red soil of the mountains of New Caledonia, the stark contrast to the blues of the lagoon
More geology lessons
Ben inspects the crystal insides of a rock

During our stay in Baie de Prony, we left and came back to Moose a couple of times, and when we did, he was always on the dock, waiting for us with a wagging tail.  He is such a lovely dog, and leaving him the final time nearly broke my heart.  But I know that other cruisers will come and go and give him love and food, and Brent and Ana on Impi have arranged for him to be seen to by a local vet once a month (details of that are in the "Updated Moose video", provided above).

Waiting patiently on the dock for us to come and visit
Did we mention we love this dog?

What a beautiful boy

And what a beautiful anchorage...Moose's island...Ile de Casey

We had taken lots of photos and videos so that we could report Moose's condition to Brent and Ana (whom we had not yet met!), but knew would could get in touch with them through social media.  Then, when we arrived in the Gold Coast in Australia in mid-December, who did we see anchored...?  Impi!  We took the dinghy over to introduce ourselves and provide the update on Moose.  Brent and Ana, being the gracious people they are, invited us on board, and, as cruisers often do, we clicked immediately!  After chatting a while, Ana told us that lots of people had been asking for an update on Moose, and they asked if they could use some of our photos and videos of Moose and have Ben and Gaby provide some of the narration, giving an update on our experience with Moose.  Brent and Ana make the most amazing videos, and definitely put us to shame, but what an honor to be featured in an Impi video!  They posted the video that features Cool Runnings on Christmas Day, and you can watch it here:  Cool Runnings updates IMPI on Moose video

Our time in New Caledonia was coming to an end, but we had one more adventure before leaving for good.  We planned to meet up with Bruce and Lyn again (they had been to Baie du Prony many times, and did not join us), and sail up the west coast of New Caledonia with them before making the crossing to Australia together.  And that, my friends will be another story, for another day!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't Moose awesome?!? Saw you on Impi's latest video - great to get an update on Moose.

    Working on a short feature article on Moose and wondered if you were willing to allow me to offer the publication the use some of your Moose photos, mentioning and crediting you (and IMPI for their stuff, too, of course).

    Dana aka "Galley Wench Tales" of s/v Journey