NZ South Island – Chalky Inlet to Stewart Island – April 7 – 9

Post by Barb

Click here for Google Map link – North Port

The view by the entrance to Chalky Inlet

The view by the entrance to Chalky Inlet

The wind was blowing 25 to 30 knots on the nose and the seas were rough when we left Cascade Cove. We were hesitating about continuing with our plan to go to Preservation Inlet but as we left the cove and got into deeper water the waves and wind seemed to be diminishing. We had to tack a few times to make it to Chalky and the entrance was a little intimidating but we made it through and managed to anchor in North Port just before nightfall. Anchoring meant dropping an anchor and backing up to an existing buoy for the stern line so we didn’t have to blow up the dinghy. We were both feeling pretty tired so we had an early night after feasting on fish chowder, mussels, blue cheese, olives and crackers.

Figure-1_-MetService-coastal-marine-areas[1]Whenever Denny and I listened to Bluff Radio for weather forecasts and a gale storm was predicted it was sure to be Puysegur, Foveaux and or Cook. We would have to go through Puysegur and Foveaux in order to get to Port Pegasus bay on the South East side of Steward Island. We knew that it could take weeks for a favorable weather window. The reason for the frequent gales in the Puysegur Region is that it is located near the southern end of the Southern Alps. When western winds slam into the mountains, not all the air manages to rise over the ridge line. Some pours around the ends of the mountain chain. So winds from the north-west or south-west blow fiercely on this coast. When we realized that we had a small weather window to go we went for it regretting the fact that we could not explore more of Chalky or make it to Preservation Inlet. But sailing is about compromises and Stewart Island was a must see for us.

DSC_7870-1As we left Chalky the Blue Fin tuna were jumping and the Albatross were flying incredibly close. So close that sometimes we felt we could reach out and pat their heads. Denny and I could just sit there for hours watching these graceful giants and their not so graceful water landings as they struggled to collapse their wings that sometimes spanned 7 ft or more.

The first 2 hours was a game of ‘dodge the lobster’ pot. We had a 10 – 25 northerly wind so it was on the rear quarter which meant a rolly sail. The winds persisted all through the day and night.  The waves built as we entered into the shallower waters of Foveaux Straits.  It is amazing how much bigger the waves get when you get into water that is under one hundred feet. As we rounded the South West Cape the sun started to rise the wind and swell seemed to diminish and we could make out the beautiful coast line of Stewart Island.  It made me a little home sick for Newfoundland with its harsh and rocky terrain. A place of beauty and solitude despite the unforgiving weather.

We had finally made it to Port Pegasus, Steward Island. What an awesome feeling that was for both of us!!

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NZ South Island – Dusky Sound March 27 – April 7

Post by Barb 

It turned out that the Fiordland peanuts was a bowlful of Crayfish legs. A night of crayfish legs and tuna sushi was special.

When we left Doubtful sound it was forecasted to be a motor day but we had 20-25 knots on the rear quarter as it funneled through the fiords so we had a beautiful sail out. Once we were back in open waters  the wind died down but the swell was still bad so it was a seasick day for me. But the good news was that we caught a Blue Fin Tuna, about a third of Billy’s Tuna so that was exciting. Denny had to reel it in and clean it while I tried to hold my breakfast. We ended up motor sailing to Dusky with the wind on the nose.  

Click here for Google Map Link  – Stick Cove

DSC_7675Our first anchorage was Stick Cove on the corner of Acheron passage and Wet Jacket Arm. It was a little cove well sheltered by an Island and it required shorelines but by this time we were getting pretty efficient with the typical anchoring process. Did I say I wasn’t going to mention sandflies anymore? Well this place was now our new worst sand-fly haven. But on the first night there we feasted on Tuna sushi and leftover crayfish again so we couldn’t complain too much. We spent 2 nights in Stick Cove and because of the sandflies we just did a dinghy tour down Wet Jacket Arm which was a marine reserve, although the only evidence of marine life were seals. DSC_0178-1We did another waterfall hike but ended up punching a small hole in the dinghy while trying to access the shore. We realized how little problems could escalate into an emergency as we faced a long dinghy trip against an escalating wind on the nose. Paddling back to the boat if the outboard failed would be a monumental task. But we made it back safely and had another wonderful evening with another Tuna sushi and fried Blue Cod on the menu.

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Click here for Google Map link – Supper Cove

DSC_0188AWe left the sandflies behind and did a scenic motor tour to the end of Dusky Sound. There DSC_0192-1were penguins and seals everywhere and the sunshine allowed us to sit outside in the cockpit without the pesky sandflies. Supper Cove is located at the very end of Dusky Cove and there we found a large mooring that we could tie to.

 

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Seaforth River. Haven for Kayaks

The Seaforth River nearby provided some great Kayaking opportunities giving us a different view of NZ temperate rainforest. On shore, there was a Department of Conservation hut, which was part of the Dusky Track. The 84-km track is often flaunted as being one of NZ hardest trails forcing its way through some impressive rain resistant landscapes. We walked part of the track, following the little orange triangles, sometimes sinking in inches of squelchy mud, imagining what it would be like to do the full 84 kilometers with a heavy pack on. The surrounding greenery of the temperate forest brought back memories of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and why it was the ideal, natural backdrop. Sometimes I even imagined Gollum sneaking around behind us. There were a couple of European boys from Hungary, Poland Germany and Czechoslovakia staying at the hut and they spent countless hours on the shore trying to catch some fish. They were probably tired of the eating the dried backpacking food. It turns out that Supper Cove was the major helicopter hub for dropping off tourists doing the weekly Dusky Sound boat tours. The tours catered to mostly to people interested in diving for Crayfish or hunting for deer. DSC_0209DSC_7738 DSC_7722 DSC_7716-1

 

Click here for Google Map link – Luncheon Cove

When we left Supper Cove we decided to take a different route through the Cook channel. It was a much narrower channel and parts of it unsurveyed so I stood on the bow looking for unchartered rocks or shallows. By the time I spotted the large shoal it was too late. I yelled to Denny to make a hard turn Starboard or full throttle reverse but the current was taking us unto the shoal no matter what we tried. We hit but managed to scrape off and we hit once more while trying to get out of there. We did manage to get back on track safely but we now have Fiordland battle scars to deal with when we get back to Dockland 5. As we got closer to Luncheon Cove the wind was slowly building and it started to rain as well. I was still feeling a little shell shocked from our last bottom hit. The passage to Luncheon got narrower and at one point we had to navigate through a very narrow opening with waves crashing on both sides while the wind was averaging 30 knots on the nose. The depth sounder suddenly went from 200 to 20 feet and I was in a knot of fear. Denny seemed calm enough and got us through unscathed. Luncheon Cove was well hidden and we had to navigate around a little opening to  enter a protected cove. There was a power boat, Dellamekyl, already there but they invited us to raft up to them and we joined them for a couple of drinks and a fine beef stew meal. We traded a bottle of red wine  for a couple of crayfish and as Captain Cook did many many years ago in Luncheon Cove, we also ‘dined on cray-fish’ there.

 

 Luncheon Cove was our favorite anchorage in Dusky and although it was touted as being an all-weather anchorage we did experience a rough night with a 50 knot northerly gale. This cove has quite a historical significance as it was used as a sealing base in the late 1700’s, it was the site of the first European settlement in NZ and the building site of NZ first European-style vessel. DSC_7755 DSC_7817-1Seals were plentiful here and we could hear them grunting and roaring any time of day while the babies played around in the cove. We woke up one morning to a different sound than the roaring seals and it turned out to be the screeching of a terrified Grey Heron that was being chased by a hawk. DSC_0251The hawk would not let the heron land anywhere except on our boat. Sitting on our lifeline was the only reprieve the Heron had. DSC_0239We have often tried to get close to the Herons to get a good picture but never could and now we had one sitting a few feet away from us. Each time the Heron attempted to escape the hawk would go after it. This predator and prey scene  continued for quite some time until the Heron landed on a rock outcrop. The hawk made a dive for the heron but was scared away by a seal that was playfully splashing near the heron. I guess the hawk didn’t like the idea of suddenly becoming the prey. 

We did a few tracks on the nearby shores and were followed by lots of curious birds. DSC_7777a DSC_7798 DSC_7763-1 DSC_0216-1 

We also made a couple of dinghy trips to catch our daily quota of Blue Cod for dinner. On one such fishing trek we punctured a hole on the dinghy floor. Not sure if this was done by the sharp Blue Cod fins or the knife I left on the floor after chopping up squid bait. We limped home with the air escaping out of our previous leak and now the dinghy floor was slowly collapsing. That evening, a tour boat named Pembroke came into the cove and they opted not to raft up to us but asked if we needed anything. I did mention our need for contact cement to fix our dinghy leaks and a couple of hours later they showed up with everything one would need to fix the leaks and a great bottle of white wine with a beautiful, delicious crayfish. Now that is Fiordland hospitality!!

DSC_7856As we were getting ready to leave Luncheon cove and to make our way to the next fiord we met a Henrietta or Henry, as she called herself, the kayaker. She was slowly kayaking her way up the fiords. All she had was her kayak well packed with her sleeping gear, tent, maps, compass, helmet, food and any other gear she thought she would need for the months it would take her to make her way North through the fiords. We admired her spirit and courage!  

Click here for Google Map Link – Cascade Cove

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Muktuk, Landfall and Henry and Kayak rafted together

Our attempt to leave Dusky was thwarted by a continuously increasing wind on the nose so we decided to turn back to Dusky and anchor in Cascade Cove. There was another sailboat there and they invited us to raft up to them. It was a red steel boat from Germany, Muktuk. I did a quick Kayak trip to the end of the bay while Denny picked a pail full of mussels for supper. Henry was also kayaking there so I invited her to spend a night on Landfall and have dinner with us. Birgit and Andreas from Muktuk had also asked us to come over for coffee and we brought Henry along who incidentally is also German although now lives in NZ. Muktuk have a nice little wood stove on their steel boat so it was cozy and warm while we enjoyed great coffee, freshly baked muffins  and entertaining conversations. Birgit and Andreas later came on board Landfall and brought with them a wood smoked Blue Cod. Andreas had built a smoker that he attached to the end of their wood burning stove pipe. What a treat that was!! It has inspired Denny to maybe try smoking meat when we get back to our South Dakota cabin. Next morning we said good bye to our new German friends and Birgit gave us a freshly baked sour dough bread for our trip to the next fiord or to Steward  Island, depending which way the wind wanted to take us.

NZ South Island – Doubtful Sound March 21 – 27

Post by Barb.

Click here for Google Map Link – Precipice Cove

We finally left Nancy, third attempt to leave the sound was the lucky one. We motored to Thompson Sound. Once inside Thompson we could continue on to Bradshaw and Doubtful without having to go out into the open sea. As we had lots of time we continued on to Bradshaw always enjoying the surrounding scenery.

We did a day anchor in Gaer Arm. We really wanted to dinghy up the

Camelot River

Camelot River

Camelot River but with the low tide we just couldn’t go very far. So instead we did a little hike to a nearby waterfall. It was the first waterfall that we had attempted to or could get close to. I managed to scramble up to a higher level and it wasn’t easy as the ground was just moss covering rock. It was a slippery slog upward and I posed for a few pictures for Denny but I simply appear as a tiny pink spec if I can be seen at all in the picture.

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Waterfall in Gaer Bay

Trying to protect myself from sandflies. Even the fly dope wasn't working

Trying to protect myself from sandflies. Even the fly dope wasn’t working

 

 

We re-anchored for the night in Precipice bay. It was an anchor and stern tie to a permanent line type anchor. It was very protected and I had promised not to speak of the sandflies but I will mention it one more time as here they were more than ferocious. Sometimes all-weather anchorages mean hordes of sandflies as there is no breeze to keep them away.

 

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link –  – Deep Cove

Deep Cove with Helena Falls in the background

We dropped the anchor in Deep Cove and we were anxious to head into Deep Cove Hostel to talk to Billy the caretaker. We had a list of wants as we knew this may be the last place to re-supply until Oban, Stewart Island:

  • purchase some fresh veggies, bread, etc.
  •  get rid of garbage
  •  fill propane tank
  • do some laundry
  • get a shower
  • petrol and diesel fill up

All the normal desires after being away from civilization for a while. Billy was extremely helpful although not everything on our wish list could be accommodated but not that he didn’t try to. Fresh veggies and supplies could be ordered from Te Anau and shipped to Doubtful within a day for $5 a ‘Banana Box’. Garbage could not be left in Doubtful as they shipped everything out of there or burned it themselves. We didn’t know this until after we filled their garbage bin and Billy had to burn it for us. No propane tank filling and propane tanks could not be taken to Te Anau to be filled as the bus did not allow the carrying of propane tanks. Billy and Wilma, his wife, offered us the use of the hostel’s washer and dryer. Diesel and gas was available for much cheaper than in Milford. We didn’t ask Billy about a shower as we had already made our mind that we were going to head into Te Anau ourselves and stay for a night at a hotel. This would give us a chance to get off the boat for a little bit, avail of some decent Wi-Fi, get some fresh supplies and get our propane tank filled. Yes we did sneak the tank to town, unbeknown to anybody, and had it filled. It wasn’t an option if we wanted to get to Steward Island. Billy helped get us tickets on the next morning bus and ferry.

We left early in the morning and caught the bus to the ferry dock. It was the same bus used by tourists who were in Doubtful to do the Real Journey’s overnight Doubtful boat cruise. The bus stopped at a lookout and gave us a view of Doubtful Sound.

Our boat is anchored at the end of the fiord in a little cove on the right hand side.

Our boat is anchored at the end of the fiord in a little cove on the right hand side.

From the ferry dock we boarded the ferry and it was an hour across lake Manapouri. On the crossing we met a man that worked with the Environment Southland Regional Council. We talked quite a bit about how to  permanently exclude marine pests and other harmful marine organisms from being transported to the area in marine vessels. Their focus was small yachts as they had agreements with the large tour boats making them responsible for ensuring that they did not transport unwanted creatures into the Fiords. He wanted ideas on how to communicate the message to yacht owners and educate them on the importance of having good cleaning protocol including bottom painting, hub checks and cleaning. We agreed that invasive marine pests were a problem and are a problem in any waters where there is ship travel. We weren’t sure if this could ever be prevented.

Once the ferry arrived in the town of Manapouri the Southland Regional Council rep gave us the 10 minute ride to Te Anau. Te Anau was busy and there were ‘No Vacancy’ signs everywhere. We did manage to get a neat and tidy room with our own bathroom and free wifi at the YHA Te Anau Backpackers. We spent a few hours in the lovely Backpackers garden making phone calls and sending emails. We had a fine meal at the

Red Cliff Restaurant, the patio seating

Red Cliff Restaurant, the patio seating

‘ Red Cliff’ and enjoyed, as per their description,  ‘simple but tantalizing food with a definite kiwi essence’ . We had superbly cooked Venison, a glass of local red wine and some obscure good desert I can’t really describe. Once back in the room it was nice to luxuriate under a hot shower for a long time and sleep in a normal double bed, although we both had trouble sleeping. Maybe it was the noise of the town or the spacious bed in the four walled room. Early in the morning we were once again catching the bus, ferry, bus back to Doubtful with our filled propane and 3 boxes of ‘Banana’ boxes containing new, fresh produce! On our trip back we had lots of help and entertaining conversation with a lovely New Jersey couple and their grown up son and wife who now live in Australia. We have since heard from them and we may see them in Australia!

Waiting for the bus, ferry, bus back to Doubtful with our Banana boxes full of food

Back in Doubtful we spent an entraining evening at Billy’s house andwere constabntly interrupted by a knock on the patio door. It was their Kea pet that required feeding and attention. We did a day hike to Helena Falls. It hadn’t rained for sometime so the waterfall was tepid compared to what it usually is. Denny also made me accompany him to the Manapouri Power Station 10 km tailrace tunnel. We went there during a rising tide and all I kept thinking is being stuck in there as the water rose.

 Manapouri Power Station  tailrace tunnel. My two biggest fears being enclosed small, dark spaces like caves and deep water diving. We made it out alive!

 

 

 

Helena Falls

After a couple of days in Doubtful, our laundry done, propane and fuel topped up it was time to keep moving. We had said good-bye to Billy and Wilma a few days ago as Billy was gone on a fishing trip. He did give us a beautiful cut of Venison for us to enjoy sometime during our travel in the fiords.

Click here for Google Map Link Blanket Cove

Billy in his boat Wamea

Billyand his boat Wamea

We decided to make a stop in Blanket Cove as the wind was picking up and it had started to rain, heavily at times. It was an easy stop as there were moorings that we could grab. We were surprised to see Billy there in his boat Wamea with his friend. They were getting anxious to catch a Blue Fin tuna as they seemed to be jumping in the fiord but not grabbing the bait. He gave us a Crayfish, a couple of fillets of Blue cod and invited us to join him for a sundowner in First Arm. Blanket Cove was not a good place to be anchored for the winds that were blowing from the East.

 

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link – First Arm

Billy proudly showing his Blue Fin Tuna

Billy proudly showing his Blue Fin Tuna

As we were motring to First Arm anchorage we heard on the radio that Billy had caught his Blue Fin Tuna! He was waiting for us when we arrived at the anchorage and we just rafted up to his boat. He had caught a BIG tuna. We invited Billy and his friend on our boat as it was raining, cold and we had heat. He arrived with a bottle of wine, fresh tuna sushi which even included the soya-wasabi dip and Fiordland peanuts! It’s not peanuts so what are Fiordland peanuts you may ask??? We will tell you, stay tuned to the next blog posting. We had a memorable night and overindulged on wine and my favorite seafood tastes!

We woke up to a quiet, beautiful morning, said goodbye to the Wamea crew and left for Dusky sound.

Our last view of Doubtful Sound early in the morning

 

 

NZ South Island – Nancy Sound March 19 – 21

Post by Barb.

Click here for Google Map Link – Toe Cove

Nancy Sound extends inland about 9 miles and was steep sided. The English name came from another sealing ship, The Nancy. The main feature of the sound is its shape which is like a leg and features have been named accordingly so as we were anchored at the end it was of course named Toe Cove.

DSC_0134-1When we left Charles Sound to go to Nancy we were escorted out  by a pod of Bottlenose dolphins. A special pair stayed with us for the duration of the motor out of Charles and we filled our camera memory card with pictures and videos. I stood on the bow pulpit and could look down at the beautiful mammals as they also stared up at me. Sometimes I could even hear them whistle to each other. DSC_0138 I later learned that the dolphins ride the surf of the ships not only as a source of entertainment but practice for more important functions such as communication, food herding and predator defense.DSC_0153

The anchorage was probably the least protected of all our anchorages and after the first day we decided to leave as we weren’t too comfortable about being here during a strong wind. We motored all the way to the entrance of the channel as the wind started to increase. By the time the wind reached 40 knots we decided to head back to the anchorage as we really didn’t want to deal with that kind of wind trying to enter the next fiord. We did re-anchor a little closer to the ‘Big Toe’ shoreline so we felt a little more protected. That night the wind howled and it rained furiously but we did manage to stay safe with the extra shore line we decided to put out. It did take us 2 tries to actually leave Nancy. While we were there we did some fishing and caught a few Snapper and Tarakihi and had one of many ‘All Fish’ meal with various sauces I made to compliment and add variety to the meal.

NZ South Island – Charles Sound March 16 – 19

Post By Barb

Click here for Google Map Link – Catherine Island

Charles Sound is about 7.5 miles long and separates into 2 arms. It was named after Charles McLaren captain of the Sydney Cove, a sealing vessel that was around the fiords in 1810.

DSC_7465We left George Sound in a blanket of fog. The fog seemed to create a certain kind of atmosphere of peace and tranquility and it heightened our awareness of the wildlife sounds surrounding us which was occasionally disrupted by the fog horn of the small cruise ship that left before us.

 

Leaving Alice Falls as the fog rolls in

DSC_7462 DSC_7461 DSC_7459AWe had a stunning sail from George Sound to Charles with the 160 jib poled out and the main sail wing on wing doing 7 knots. We were trolling the fishing line and caught a fish but we were going so fast we couldn’t reel in the fish and we couldn’t easily slow the boat down. We did loose the catch and I figured we must have yanked the lips right off the poor fish. The wind started to accelerate quickly to 25 knots when we got close to Charles and before we knew it we had back winded the main. Denny had to go forward to remove the preventer we had on the main while I steered the boat as auto pilot was a little overwhelmed by the amount of sail we had. It was a little nerving watching Denny on deck trying to hang on while at the same time struggling with the preventer and all I had to do was make sure I steered the boat in a straight line in 25+ knot winds. We were successful and soon we had reduced sail and we were back to making our way to Charles Sound. We are continually amazed and humbled by how quickly the wind and sea conditions can change here.

Catherine Island anchorage

It was calm inside Charles Sound and we motored all the way to the end of Gold Arm to Catherine Island and we tied to a permanent line between two Islands. During our 3 days here we did have stints when the wind picked up to 35+ knots and it blew all around us but we were well protected in the a little nook between the two islands.

 

DSC_7503-1We did have one beautiful calm day and I spent the entire day traversing the fiord in my kayak and Denny explored by dinghy. The fiords offers some spectacular kayaking but I have to be always mindful of how quickly things can change and Denny often reminds me that if it got really nasty I would have to find a place to wait out the weather as he probably wouldn’t be able to come and rescue me until the wind abated. It is a thought that is always there.

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NZ South Island – George Sound March 13 – 16

Click here for Google Map link – Anchorage Cove 

The narrow steep walls of the fiords offer spectacular views but it also creates a great channel for the wind and it accelerates as it blows through the fiords. George Sound is about 12 miles long and is recognized as being one of the most sheltered. The sound was given it’s English name by the famous sealing captain John Grono who made many sealing trips around the fiords.

Our exit from Bligh was a motor sail with 25 – 30 knots on the nose so it was a slow slug out. When we arrived in George Sound, it was getting late in the afternoon so we had to take the first all-weather anchorage tucked in behind a little island and close to shore. As it looked a little snug and close to shore I went ahead in the dinghy to figure out how this anchorage was going to work. There was a sturdy, permanent fixed line tied from the island to the shore, perpendicular to shore. There were 2 buoys marking the loops for a stern line and bow line. DSC_7436I explained this to Denny and we decided I would go ahead with dock lines and he would follow, bring the boat slowly to the fixed line and grab my dock lines. Denny slowly maneuvered Landfall past the island and the fixed line, did an almost 360 turn to face the exit of the anchorage and slowly made his way to the bowlines which I held. There was a moment of panic when he thought the bowlines were too close and he was stirring up the mud bottom with only inches to spare on the depth meter so he gunned it out of there. I shifted the dock lines further apart and further from the shore and we repeated the process this time with better success. Once we had Landfall securely tied to the permanent shore line we could relax. This was a new anchoring technique for us and one that fishing boats liked to use as we later learned.  

While anchored here we decided to try out our fishing skills. We took the dinghy to a nearby rock outcropping with a sandy beach and fished using our frozen squid bait. It took a couple of tries and lost bait before we knew how to bait the hook so that we hooked the fish not just fed them bait.

Red Gurnard

We didn’t know it at the time but this would turn out to be the best fishing spot we encountered during our South Island sail. Each time we baited the hook we caught a fish and we were never sure what it would be until we had the catch close to the dinghy. Some of the fish we returned to the water because of size restrictions and because we were not familiar with the fish we were catching. We returned to the boat with 2 Blue Cod, 1

Tarakihi

Tarakihi, 1 snapper and 1 Red Gurnard we kept for a taste. We actually quite a few Gurnards but we weren’t sure if they were edible as their appearance was a little odd with beautiful fins and 3 small lobster like legs on each side. We released the Blue shark which we didn’t want to bring into the dinghy and one octopus escaped just as we were about to pull it on board but not before he squirted water at Denny. We had  a BBQ grilled fish feast that night and the Gurnard turned out to be my favorite grilled fish. It would be the only time we caught these peculiar looking fish. Shortly after the BBQ ran out of propane on one tank and had to go to our spare tank. We regretted not thinking about this while in Milford so now we had to use the propane a little more sparingly and would have to do a refill in Doubtful or there would be no going Stewart Island.

Click here for Google map link – Alice Falls

We left Anchorage Cove on a beautiful, flat calm day. I used the dinghy to release the shore lines and push Landfall out of the little cove so Denny could motor ahead without getting the permanent line wrapped around the propeller.

Motoring to Alice Falls

Motoring to Alice Falls

We motored to the end of the sound and anchored in a neat little cove with Alice Falls flowing into it. It took a little maneuvering to get the stern lines tied just so while the current wanted to push the boat out. Current was definitely the challenge in this neat anchorage.

 

 

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Alice Falls just around the corner

While in Alice Falls Denny had a new boat project. The water maker was leaking whenever we tried to make water and as it is in the V-berth this was not a good thing. We basically had to move our sleeping quarters to the salon and the Water maker was  dismantled and re-assembled in the middle of the V-berth quite a few times during our Fiordland visit as Denny fixed one leak only to find another. It isn’t just luck that we have spare parts for fixing things that break. I would say it’s meticulous planning on Denny’s part, anal as he is! While he was working on this I made some Kayak trips and found the Department Of Conservation DOC cabin on the nearby shore. I was there when a tour boat appeared and offloaded a boatload of people at the same DOC. This tour boat followed us through a few of the fiords. It is a great way for people to experience the fiords although it did change our fantasy of being out here in isolation.

SCENERY DURING OUR MOTOR TO ALICE FALLS

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NZ South Island – Shoreline anchoring

Post by Dennis.

Anchoring in the Fiords is a different kind of animal altogether.  I had to anchor the same way when I was in the Fiords of Chile.  But  shoreline anchoring works well whenever you have swing room problems and or in really deep water.  The example I am using is what we had to do when we were in Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound.  It was very deep, 500’ to 1,200’, and at the end was the river which has dumped tons and tons of sand and debris over the last 10,000 years.  The sand delta did not taper into the depths but dropped off very sharply, 60 degree angle or so.  So if you tried to anchor on the slope and the wind came from the river direction, the anchor would be pulled out easily and Landfall would drift out the sound.  I know of somebody that had this happen and they woke up to their anchor chain clanking. They had floated five miles downstream.  So the shore lines are the solution. 

Diagram of Doubtful Sound anchorage and shoreline requirements

Diagram of Doubtful Sound anchorage and shoreline requirements

In Doubtful sound the Delta left a little hole next to the shore and this was the place we could hide.  so for this example this is what we would do:

First I drop the anchor in about 60’ of water fairly close to the sand delta and start backing into the hole.  When I get close to where I want to be I set the anchor then continued to back in.  While I am doing this Barb is in the dingy and  heading toward the shore towing the shoreline that is being played out from the boat.  Once she gets to shore, ties the dingy up and brings the line to shore, she has to find a nice strong tree to tie the line to.  She needs to tie it so that it is not underwater when the tide comes in or to high so she can’t reach it if the tide goes out, just in case we have to leave quickly.  This is when Barb gets nervous and can’t remember how to tie a bowline or can’t get the motor started.  I can’t help because I am busy trying to keep the boat off the rocks.  After she does have it secured I can tighten the line up while Barb makes her way back to the boat.  She takes the next line to shore and secures that too.  Lastly I put the snubber line on the anchor and let out the chain while Barb pulls in the stern line.  The lines are all tweaked a couple more times and we are set for the night. 

Lines, lines, lines and sometimes still not enough for anchoring with shorelines

Lines, lines, lines and sometimes still not enough for anchoring with shorelines

This all sounds really good but I tell you there are a million things that seem to go wrong.  A knot in the line or the realization that the shoreline will not be long enough even though they are 330 ft long. With all this line being drug towards shore, a line can easily get wrapped around the dinghy prop.  We use polypropylene line that floats, but on occasion it still seems to get wrapped up in the propeller.  Shorelines can be slippery or steep or trees can only be found inland after some crawling through thick brush. All this with either a little wind or blowing a gale and a little current to lots of current maybe from nearby waterfalls. What could go wrong! 

But we did get much better at it, having done over thirty anchorages over the last two and half months, and over two thirds of them needing shorelines. How could you not help but get better at it.  Now if we get an easy one where there is a float tie for the stern, we just drop the anchor and back up to the float and loop a dock line through the eye. 

The South Island anchorages always caused us some anxiety, even with the cruising guides. You still never knew what you had to do until you got there and checked it out and no two anchorages have been the same or done in the same way. Very different from South Pacific Island sailing where dropping, setting and snubbing the anchor was all that was required. 

NZ South Island – Bligh Sound March 10 – 13

Posting by Barb.

 Click here for Google Map linkBounty Haven

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It was a beautiful motor to Bligh Sound. We cruised all the way to the end of the fiord and anchored in Bounty Haven. This was our first of many  anchorages that required shore lines. With two stern shore lines and an anchor, we were sitting nicely. We woke up to 25 – 30 knot wind on the beam and we knew we had to leave this anchorage. We were not that far from the shore and the wind was trying to take us to it. We decided to start bringing in the anchor and slowly releasing the stern line but we just didn’t have the power to bring the bow into the wind. The wind continued to take us to shore. It was panic mode.

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Bounty Haven anchorage – 35 knots on the port beam almost pushed us on the shore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We scrambled to put out the spare anchor which meant emptying the cockpit locker and jumping into the dinghy with the spare anchor and enough line tied to a cleat on the port to keep the boat from drifting closer to shore. With the boat stable we decided to wait until the wind abated and then leave the anchorage. The wind continued to slowly build! Denny came up with a plan to slowly release the stern line while pulling up the main anchor hoping the spare anchor would hold us off the shore while the wind pushed the stern and allowing the boat to point more into the wind. We powered the boat out of there leaving the shore lines behind and leaving the spare anchor tied to a fender so that we could hopefully retrieve it later. With the wind howling and our nerves frayed we had to find a second anchorage which would give us better protection.

Click here for Google map link  – Amazon Cove

Picture was taken shortly before he fell in the water

Picture was taken shortly before he fell in the water

We backed into a little cove and re-anchored with two shore lines. Denny had to climb up15 feet or more to find a decent tree to tie to and in the process of doing this he did fall in the water with his foul weather gear and boots. It gave me a scare until I saw him climb back into the dinghy. We were both feeling drained and now we just had to wait for the wind to abate so that we could retrieve our lines and spare anchor. The anchor was going to be a problem as it was well set and two people in a dinghy were probably not going to be able to pull it up. As we pondered the situation we saw a large sailboat in the distance heading to the end of the Sound. Denny jumped into the dinghy and headed to the sailboat to warn them about our abandoned tackle.  They then offered to get it for us which Denny quickly agreed to.  So 2 hours later they dropped our spare anchor off. Denny retrieved the shore lines and we could again enjoy the 2nd anchorage.

fiordland penguin

this is the face of the fiordland penguin I came face to face with. Picture from the internet

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This is the only picture we could get of my penguin without harassing him

When we left this neat little cove I did the climbing to release the lines while Denny controlled the boat. While I was hanging on to a tree trying to release the shoreline with one hand I saw the grass move in front of me and thought I would see a rat or possum. Suddenly I was face to face with a Fiordland penguin. We looked at each other for a couple of seconds, both surprised to see each other. He buried his head in the grass and I quietly left it alone and got Denny to come back for a look with a camera. Unfortunately the only picture we could get was with his head still buried in the grass.  Seeing penguins was on our ‘to do’ list and seeing one face to face 2 feet away was more than I could ever hope for! Making the sighting even more special was reading about them later and finding out that the Fiordland penguin was the rarest of all penguins with only 2500 to 3000’s pairs in the mid 1990’s. Not sure what the numbers are today.

We learned something and gained experience from every South Island anchorage. In Bligh we learned to always go for the all-weather anchorages no matter how calm it may be upon arrival, always anchor facing an exit so that we can make a quick departure and that people in the South Island are the greatest and without any hesitation are there to help.

NZ South Island – Milford Sound March 6 – 10

click here for google map link – Free Mooring from Milford cruises.

DSC_0028DSC_7339It was raining, foggy, and dreary when we entered Milford Sound. The waterfalls were plentiful and roaring. First thing we noticed was the number of tour boats queued up to give the all the tourists the same views of the falls and the seals lounging on the rocks.

DSC_0043aDSC_0080After finally making the motor sail to the fiords our next challenge would be anchoring and we knew that could be tricky.  We knew we would have to use shorelines, either entirely, or to set the anchor on the slope and use several stern lines – this way the anchor is being pulled uphill, in constant tension. As the weather is unpredictable most all weather anchorages would be in small coves necessitating lines because there would be insufficient swinging room (the norm). Fortunately the Cruising guides indicated that Milford would probably have available moorings. After a call to the Milford Lobster Company, we were advised of which mooring we could take and we could finally have a quiet, peaceful night’s sleep.

DSC_7289We woke up to a beautiful sunny day so we decided to do a tour of Milford. The waterfalls were not as plentiful as the day before and this is due to the lack of top soil in the in the fiords. Not much water is absorbed after a rainfall so waterfalls can disappear within 24 hours based on the amount of rain. But the scenery was spectacular. DSC_0062We were surrounded by cliffs that rose vertically from the waters and there were mountain peaks, some snowcapped, that scraped the sky. We were amazed at how close we could come to the cliffs, almost touching, and then look up and up and up at endless rock cliffs. We could almost visualize the glaciers slow process of scraping and chiseling … scraping and chiseling … causing the patterns on the rocky surfaces.

 

DSC_0060DSC_7356After our tour of Milford and we were comfortably moored again we wanted showers and we wanted to top up the diesel tank after our motor down the West coast. There were showers available by the Lobster Company and were free for us to use although not esthetically pleasing. We just had to make sure we beat the rush of dive tours tourists.  Diesel was expensive and required a couple of dinghy trips with jerry cans and after the first attempt to get fuel we were told not to show at the pumps until after 2:00 when the offloading of crayfish by local fishing boats slowed down. We enviously looked at the large crayfish holding tank but couldn’t buy a single crayfish as they were all destined for China!

There was a café 20-minute walk from the pier and it was the base where people booked their Milford tours. We this location to complete our Visa extensions as we knew once leaving Milford we would not have internet until the only town in Stewart Island, Oban. Obtaining our visitor visa extensions took 2 days using unreliable satellite internet which cost $10 for 100 megs, a few trips to the boat getting all the information together, frustration trying to get data and pictures contained on the either IPad or on the Microsoft Laptop when neither liked to talk to each other. Getting the visa extension applications filed meant we could comfortably continue our South Island sail without fear of being in New Zealand illegally.

Milford gave us a taste of the hordes of sandflies that would feast on us during the duration of our cruise through the fiords. I won’t mention the nasty sandflies again except to say that they were waiting for us at every anchorage and Denny seemed to be their preferred meal. We learned how to dress appropriately, showing very little flesh while outside and sometimes while inside, even during sleeping.