The crew and owners of the 48 metre long superyacht Slojo watch the sunset after a day of fun and sun in the great southern lagoon of New Caledonia. Anchored in the lee of Ilot Kouare, the superyacht settles down for the night - the gourmet cook in the galley preparing a delicious fish dinner - the owners on the top deck hoping to see the "green flash" that appears just as the sun vanishes below the horizon. They were not disappointed - there was a green flash just after this image was taken.
The captain of the Slojo used our cruising guide to New Caledonia to plan his voyage through New Caledonia's lagoon and the owners invited us aboard for dinner to discuss taking aerial images using a kite. We took this sphere image of Superyacht Slojo from our dinghy as we approached the vessel at the appointed hour.
Superyachts are the new "Castles" - with very broad moats surrounding them - and the owners live like royalty in their private floating estates. The Superyacht Crew must undergo special training and certification before they can become a part of this magnificent lifestyle. All of them must have a safety training course mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the captain, first mate, engineer, first stewardess, second stewardess, deckhands and even the chef all need to take special courses and pass both practical and theory examinations for their ratings in order to get their "tickets".
We ate our three course gourmet meal in the spacious dining area on the afterdeck watching the stars come out and talking about photography. Both the owner and his wife were avid photographers and they encouraged the crew and guests to participate in photo contests. So I had a captive audience as I explained how to take aerial images with a kite and how to take sphere images. In the evening, after dinner, everyone uploaded their best images and videos into the ship's entertainment center and then gathered in the lounge to watch them on the giant plasma TV screen. This was a great finale to every play-day and stimulated a serious interest in photography aboard the superyacht.
It's not all just fun and games, however. Slojo and other superyachts also participate in the Yacht Aid Global programme, delivering supplies and medicines to schools, medical clinics, and cultural centres in very remote locations thoughout the world.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.