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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