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.

DSC_7534-1

 

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.

 

 

DSC_0121

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

DSC_7445 DSC_7443 DSC_7439

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

DSC_0110A

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.

DSC_7389

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

DSC_7396

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.

Leaving Stewart Island

We have been in Little Glory Bay, for what t seems like, a loooong time. There has been a complex trough hanging around and the winds have been quite strong at times. Visually I have no idea what a complex trough is but I know what it is NOT and that is good sailing wind. So today we have a High with some Northerly wind which is not good if one is trying to head North but we are going to make a run or motor for it. The wind coming behind this High is not ideal either with another low moving in. We probably will only make it to Dunedin although our preference would have been Akaroa, but we will see. Stewart Island was beautiful and we had a few social nights with some hunters in a hut nearby and a single sailor on a boat from Switzerland. We believe we will have better wifi as we head North so we will be able to send more emails and our blog posts we have been writing while waiting for weather can be posted. We really miss talking to family and friends so hopefully in a couple of days we will have a phone marathon. Dunedin is a good days sail away but if weather is right Akaroa is a good 3 day sail. Talk soon Hugs Dennis and Barb

Hanging out in Stewart Island

Monday April 23 Posting by Barb: 46 54.348S 168 02.843E http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:46%2054.348S%20168%2002.843E Hi to all, We have been hiding out in a very nice all weather anchorage while the wind has been howling around us at 25 to 30 knots. At least our wind generator is keeping us supplied in all the power we need. We have had our daily feed of mussels. We have yet to see if there are any Blue Cod in this bay. I went out and gathered a potful of Cockles and turned it into a whine wine and cockles pasta meal. I have done part of the Rakiura ‘Great’ walk and I found it challenging considering my legs have not had much a work out. Kayaking and sailing are great back, shoulder and arm workouts but legs get a little lazy. While I was doing my ‘Great’ walk Denny had a new boat project. Our ‘head’ or toilet seemed to be making funny noises when flush pumping so that got taken apart and he did find a problem and he did fix it. My walk return was well timed as I got back to the boat just as he was replacing the runner on the floor, the ‘head’ back in place and the boat back in order. As the winds are light this morning we will be moving to a new anchorage in Little Glory. 46 58.265S 168 09.375E http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:46%2058.265S%20168%2009.375E We will be here until we get a weather window to start moving North to Akaroa, our only stop on the South East side of the South Island. It is about 300 miles away so it will be a 2-3 day window. The forecast up to Thursday are still predicting North winds and that is NOT what we want. So we continue to wait. But being in such a beautiful location it is not a painful wait. We will post an update when we start our Northward sail. Dennis & Barb S/V Landfall

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 ….