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165

SECTOR 6

ILES LOYAUTE TO THE SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS (INCLUDING VANUATU, THE BANKS ISLANDS, AND THE TORRES ISLANDS)

6.0

Plan.—This sector describes the entitled groups of islands

and their off-lying reefs and dangers. The descriptive sequence is in a S-N direction, starting with Iles Loyaute and terminating with the Santa Cruz Island group, about 720 miles to the N.

General Remarks

6.1

6.1

Iles Loyaute are dependencies of New Caledonia,

while the Banks Islands and the Torres Islands are the de- pendencies of Vanuatu. The Santa Cruz islands are the territory of the Solomon Islands.

Winds—Weather.—The Southeast Trades dominate the

region of the Iles Loyaute; E to SE winds are most dependable between November and May, and there is less from these directions and an increase in S to SW winds between June and October.

6.1

Annual rainfall is fairly heavy; the wettest part of the year is

between January and April, with definitely drier conditions in the latter part of the year.

6.1

This area lies near the region of maximum frequency of trop-

ical cyclones in the South Pacific. The season of most com- mon occurrence of these storms is between December and March.

6.1

The Southeast Trades definitely dominate the Vanuatu area,

from May to October or November; more than 80 per cent of the winds blow between E and S, and W winds are practically unknown. During the remainder of the year, although E to SE winds still predominate, directions are much more variable.

From January to March the N part of the region experiences considerable NW winds and many calms. In these same months tropical cyclones arise in or cross the Vanuatu area, usually traveling S; this type of storm is quite rare in the N but not uncommon in the S part of the group.

6.1 6.1

Rainfall is generally heavy, ranging from over 2,800mm per

annum on the exposed E sides of the islands, to around 1,800 to 2,300mm in more sheltered locations. The least rainy months are June, July, and August, when the trade is most strongly dominant.

6.1

Winds are steadiest and on the average, strongest, over the

Santa Cruz Island region when the Southeast Trades prevail, usually beginning in May and lasting through October, during this time about 70 per cent of all winds are less than 10 per cent showing a W component. From November to April, however, the winds are much more variable, though still predominantly E, and at this season the stronger winds blow from N direc- tions.

North gales are occasionally experienced, due probably to formation of tropical cyclones not far S or W.

6.1

Caution.—Beacons are subject to cyclonic and other dam- age, and may take considerable time to replace or repair.

6.1

Iles Loyaute

6.2 This group of islands is located about 70 miles E of

New Caledonia and consists of three large islands, Mare, Lifou, and D’Ouvea. There are also a number of small islands, islets, and rocks, the most prominent being Dudune Island (Ndundure Island), Tiga Island, North Pleiades Island, and South Pleiades Island. Iles Loyaute have not yet been com- pletely surveyed, and from past information no reliance can be placed on the set of the currents in this locality.

6.2

Between Iles Loyaute and Efate Island, about 180 miles

NNE, a WNW set at a rate of 0.75 knot has been observed. About 10 miles W of Ile Mare the currents usually set SE, while between Ile Mare and Ile Lifou the current is strong but irregular.

6.2

Between Iles Loyaute and New Caledonia, a NW set is usu-

ally encountered, the strength of which is increased consider- ably after several days of fresh SE winds. During N or NW winds, rates may be decreased or a countercurrent may become established. After a period of N winds, it may be several days before the normal NW set is reestablished.

6.2

Aspect.—The three main islands of Iles Loyaute consist of

raised coral and do not exceed a height of 150m. The islands of D’Ouvea Atoll do not exceed a height of 30m. The coasts of all these islands are formed mostly of steep, craggy cliffs; in other parts wooded cliffs descend in gradual slopes to the sea. In the low-lying areas there are numerous coconut palms.

6.2

Pilotage.—Pilotage is compulsory for the following vessels

within the waters of New Caledonia: 1. All foreign vessels regardless of their length. 2. All French vessels more than 60m in length.

French warships are exempt from pilotage, as well as pleasure craft less than 60m in length. Masters of pleasure craft less than 60m in length are advised to consider engaging the services of a pilot if unfamiliar with the area.

6.2

See the Noumea port description in paragraph 5.21 for fur- ther information.

6.2 6.2

Regulations.—Tank vessels within the waters of New Cale-

donia, or in distress and within 50 miles of New Caledonia, are governed by special regulations, which may be found in Pub. 120, Sailing Directions (Planning Guide) Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia. See also the Noumea port description in paragraph 5.21 for further information.

Signals.—See the Noumea port description in paragraph 5.21 for further information.

6.2 6.2

Anchorage.—In all the anchorages around Iles Loyaute, the

bottom is composed of coral covered by a thin layer of sand, making the holding power of the ground only moderate. Ves- sels should use a good scope of cable here and be prepared to get underway if the weather deteriorates.

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