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.

Oban, Stewart Island

Post by Barb – We have made it to Oban. So here we sit at a Youth Hostel doing laundry. It’s been long overdue and so has our showers. Denny finally shaved his face fur and looks like a new young fellow. Our sail to Port Pegasus and to here was fast considering the 25 to 30 knots on the stern. When we get back to some decent Wifi areas we will post our pics and stories.

Post by Dennis – Barbie was getting cranky, just because she hadn’t had a shower in a month or so, I just don’t know what the problem is.  So now she is squeaky clean so she should be good for another month.  It has really been an incredible trip and the stories we have to tell will be endless.  Fishing where your baited hook does not even reach the bottom before you have a bite.  Every day something new happens.  We have been eating mussels and cockles, that we collected, Was given a rear quarter of venison which we have been eating on.  The thing I am looking forward to having is a Sooty shearwater, which is a young sea bird and maybe an oyster or two for Barbie.

Laundry is done so we have to go. Stay tuned ….

NZ – North of the North Island

SV Nyon in Te Pahi

SV Nyon in Te Pahi

Our freezer has been fixed. Northfreeze may have been expensive but the repair man knew what he was doing. After a couple of attempts to use a vacuum pump to suction out the moisture and any oil out of the freezer system the freezer worked better than ever. The first vacuum pump nearly caught the cockpit on fire but luckily we were on board to see the smoke and unplug the machine. We spent a fine evening by the Te Pahi Islands with Rick and Kyra on Nyon (we met them in the Marquesa). It was a nice anchorage with just our two boats there.  Click here for Google Map Link

We left Bay of Islands and motored to Whangaroa. Out first anchorage was in Rere Bay nestled among rock outcrops and cliffs. It gave us a sense of what the Fordland’s may look like. Click here for Google Maps link. The bays are narrow and it’s hard to imagine what this place would be like during ‘crazy busy’ cruising season. We could see the famous Duke’s Nose and planned to do the hike up the peak but Denny walked on something sharp and got a cut on the bottom of his foot while climbing to knob which overlooked our boat anchorage. We did take pictures and capture the spectacular scenery. DSC_7219-1

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DSC_9984We spent an entertaining evening with a beautiful couple and their 4 young boys. Six of them on a 34 ft boat and you would think it would be chaos but not with those boys. They were funny, talkative, interesting, considerate and just all around great kids. We gave them a tour of our boats and talked a lot about how to prepare for offshore sailing which they would like to do in the near future. Maybe someday we will see them somewhere in the high seas!

Collecting wild Oysters

Collecting wild Oysters

We checked out the Whangaroa Harbour town, fueled up and disposed of garbage. There wasn’t much else here so we pulled up anchor and moved to Touwai Bay, a little bay near the Oyster farm. Click here for Google Map link . For the most part we were by ourselves except for the  late night arrival  early morning departure power boats and the many seagulls

waiting for a snack

waiting for a snack

that liked to hang around for the hope of some scraps. Denny of course checked out the Oyster farm and learned a few interesting facts and came back with 2 large oysters for sampling. They are harvested in June so the samples we were given were supposedly undersized. Denny shucked them ‘for his woman’ and it was the freshest, biggest oysters I ever had. Superb!!

 

 

I don't know

I don’t know

enjoying the moment

enjoying the moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some facts that Denny learned about Oyster farming:

Oysters are grown in sacks attached to 2X4’s. Wild Oysters attach themselves to the posts as well because they tend to congregate and these are hacked off and also placed in bags for future but are worth less because of imperfections. Profit margin is very small and it’s hard work.

DSC_7260While Denny was Oyster farm information gathering, I finally managed to get my Kayak into NZ waters and explored the East side of Whangaroa Harbour.

IMG_0414

 

 

Our last stop North of the North island was Mangonui Harbour. Click here for Google Map link . On the way we caught a Kingfish and it took Denny 45 minutes to bring it to the side of the boat and then he got away. But we were sure that he was smaller than the legal 75cm legal catch. About an hour later we did catch a Skipjack Tuna which Denny easily brought it on board, cleaned it and cut it into nice Tuna steaks. Despite our fresh fish on board we still went out to dinner at the ‘world famous’ Mangonui Fish Shop. It was probably the best fish and chips we had in NZ and plenty of it as well. We sat next to a German couple who were touring NZ. Their goal in life is to complete all 6 world class Marathon races. So far they have completed 3 which included New York, Chicago and Berlin. It’s the Toyko marathon they are really looking forward to. Denny makes it a point to meet people and learn about their passions.

Today is Saturday, February 25th and we would like to wish our beautiful Allison a very Happy Birthday. Besides celebrating that very special occasion we are also starting our trek to the South Island. We will be leaving at 5pm so that we can round Cape Reinga in daylight. The weather window is not ideal for a sailboat and quite a bit of motoring is expected but we are anxious to get to the South Island. Hopefully we will be able to post our progress using our SSB. Denny replaced the cable while in Marsden Cove and it yet has to be tested. Other than SSB and a satellite phone we will be off the grid for probably a couple of months.

Dropping Anchor for the First Time in NZ

On January 20th, we returned to our boat in Marsden Cove, New Zealand.

Our next adventure will be sailing around the South Island. It will be a colder, challenging, with “gales of mosquitos” the locals tell us. We see it as a place of beauty, wildlife, isolation, and  the chance to serve up some freshly caught fish and shellfish.  We spent 3 weeks doing boat maintenance, provisioning, and visiting our friends in Dockland 5. We have to say that the hardest part about continuing with our sailing plans will be saying ‘so long’ to our very good friends. And we would like to add a ‘thank you’ to our friends, (you know who you are who) gave us a ‘Bon Voyage’ gift.  Besides the delicious homemade scones, we were gifted back candies we tried to offload on the D5 ‘For Free’ shelf, an abandoned, ceramic fish plate which we snuck on their deck for some tender loving care. This was all packaged up to look like a fully loaded candy sailboat with Landfall signage on the side complete with a sail and replica of ‘Barb and Denny’ made from wood ice cream sticks. That brought on the laughter. I would include a picture but that would reveal the creative culprits. No worries, we will have our revenge!!

We left the dock on Saturday, February 10th and made is as far as Whangaruru.  Our NZ sailing started with a beautiful Spinnaker sail. At 7pm we dropped anchor in NZ for the first time in a large protected bay and witnessed a stunning sunset and a full moon rising over the bluffs. It was a peaceful, quiet night. Click here for the anchorage  Google Map Link

Next morning we were gone by 8 and dropped the fishing line while we exited the bay. Within 10 minutes we had a fish on the hook. Nice size for lunch but he got away as we tried to hoist it into the boat. Can’t really say what we had actually caught. Our fishing luck continued by catching a small tuna which we threw back as we thought he was too little but then we caught another Tuna, this one even smaller.  We returned that Tuna back to the sea as well but now regretting not keeping the first Tuna. All I kept thinking was the Tuna steaks we could have had on the grill if our standards had not been so high. It won’t happen again. Now all Tuna caught will be keepers, maybe. As we rounded Cape Brett the wind picked up and we sailed through gusts of 25 to 30 knots of wind but it didn’t last long.

Bay of Islands is cruising paradise with lots of little bays with beaches and tramps but also many many many more yachts. We sailed around a little bit exploring the Islands and finally anchored in Otaio Bay off Urapukapuka Island. Click here for the Google Map Link As the weather forecast for the next day was not supposed to be good, we decided to stay 2 nights here. This may have been a good decision as Dennis ended up working our freezer which had stopped working. Considering it was very full, this was not a good thing. Next stop was Opua Marina where we finally had our freezer fixed and where we spent some time with our friends on Nyon. Click here for the Google Map Link

The weather for the South Island is starting to look better with a ‘large’ high moving in in the next 8 – 10 days. We will head to the beautiful bay , Whangaroa, where we will wait for the weather window to sail the 700 miles to the South Island Fiords. We will keep you posted.