07/23/2012, Aneityum, Vanuatu
The passage from Opua, NZ to Noumea, New Caledonia was mostly easy and uneventful. Just the way we like them! We headed due north for 5 days to clear two lows forming in the west, then west for two days, then north for one.
While moving slowly outside the reef waiting for daylight I watched the full harvest moon set in the early morning dawn. Just as it dipped below the horizon it produced a green flash!
Nothing broke on the passage and our new sails worked really well. All the repairs held. How nice it was for the worrying prop sounds to be gone. One night the electric winch on portside sprang to life all on its own, again, but Jim was right there to throw the sheet off. Good thing he's got a supply of switches. It's probably time to replace these Lewmars with Harkens that don't have holes in the covers.
We got stuck, once more, at Port Moselle Marina in Noumea. Free wifi, unlimited hot water for showers and a wonderful daily market filled with fresh local fruit and veggies make it difficult to leave. Because New Caledonia is a French Overseas Territory with fresh baguettes, delicious wine and cheese, and those marvelous pastries, it's nearly impossible to toss off those dock lines. Our excuse? Waiting for the enhanced tradewinds to mellow out and make the trip over to Vanuatu more pleasant. Lingering through July 14, Bastille Day, just made sense.
We left July 15 for an overnighter to Lifou in the Loyalty Islands. Are we glad we stopped! A pod of bottlenose dolphins met us in the bay and escorted us into the picturesque anchorage surrounded by cave-riddled cliffs. Because the island is limestone, there is little runoff so the water incredibly clear as you can see in the picture. The snorkeling was delightful!
Another overnighter brought us to Aneityum, Vanuatu a couple of days ago. A break in the usual southeasterly trades let us sail across on a northerly, very pleasant indeed. Itâs been raining since we arrived so haven't unloaded the kayak yet - maybe this afternoon.
Northern New Zealand is nice this time of year, the days are cool and crisp and the flurry of coastal activity has mostly come to a halt. 'Boaties' (that's kiwi speak for anyone on any type of boat) seem to only go out on weekends now, perhaps because it gets dark so early. Most of the cruising yachts have left for Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It seems fitting that we spend the final few nights of our trip around New Zealand in the quite solitude of empty anchorages.
It has been two long months since Tenaya was free from docklines. During the time she was corralled in Gulf Harbour she was constantly busy. Even while we were in California for three weeks, she had regular visitors. New sails were bent on, a new canvas dodger was fitted, a new and heavier anchor replaced our bent one and a new instrument panel was installed. The bowthruster, water heater, watermaker and generator were all repaired, but not without multiple visits from the technicians. She came out of the water for new bottom paint but, to our surprise, she didn't need it. The Micron 66 from last year was holding up just fine. 4 mm of travel was detected in our prop shaft, too much according to Vernon of SeaQuip. His fix has finally quieted the disconcerting hum that came from that area.
We could have blasted up to Opua on an overnight passage but we chose to stop at Kawau Island, Tutukaka and Whangamumu to make sure everything is working properly before we head offshore. So far, so good.
Once we have provisioned, we will be ready to check out of the country and head north. It is sad to be leaving New Zealand as we've had two wonderful summers exploring by land and sea. But, we had an amazing time in Vanuatu last winter and are looking forward to continuing our travels further up the island chain.
We have finished our recap: Sailing to Fiordland and Stewart Island, what you need to circumnavigate New Zealand. Click here to download the 17 page PDF file:
Sailing to Fiordland and Stewart Island
04/19/2012, Gulf Harbour, NZ
Sailing around New Zealand was amazing! Our best trip yet!
Now it's time to sell the guidebooks and charts. Anyone interested?
A Boaties' Guide to Fiordland 1999 Edition, Original price: NZ $61.50 NZ $30
Stewart Island Cruising Guide 1996 Edition, Original price: NZ $46 NZ $20
Cruising Guide South Island 2010 Edition, Original price: NZ $40 NZ $20
NZ Cruising Guide-Central Area 2002 Edition, Original Price: NZ $55 NZ $25
Northland Coast Boaties Atlas 2000 Edition, Price: NZ $20
Coastal Cruising Handbook Ninth (2002) Edition, Original price: NZ $55 NZ $20
New Zealand Tidal Stream Atlas Original price: NZ $8 NZ $4
Hauraki Gulf Boating Atlas 2007 Edition, Original price: NZ $82 NZ $40
The New Zealand Weather Book 2007 Edition, Original price: NZ $40 NZ $20
Charts: NZ $10 each
NZ69 - Stewart Island 2009 Edition
NZ 76 - Western Approaches to Foveaux Strait 2009 Edition
NZ632 - Bank Peninsula 2000 Edition
NZ661 - Approaches to Otago Harbour 2000 Edition
NZ6321 - Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupo 2000 Edition
NZ6324 - Akaroa Harbour 2009 Edition
NZ6612 - Otago Harbour 2004 Edition
NZ681 - Approaches to Bluff and Riverton 2009 Edition
NZ6821 - Bluff Harbour and Entrance 2009 Edition
NZ6823 - Paterson Inlet 2000 Edition
NZ6912 - Plans in Stewart Island 2001 Edition
NZ7621 - Milford Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7622 - Milford Sound to Sutherland Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7623 - Bligh Sound to Caswell Sound 1999 Editon
NZ7624 - Charles Sound to Dagg Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7625 - Thompson Sound and Doubtful Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7653 - Breaksea Sound and Dusky Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7654 - Chalky and Preservation Inlets 2002 Edition
NZ7655 - Breaksea Sound 2009 Edition
NZ7656 - Dusky Sound 2009 Edition
If interested, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 021 025 68423
Pictures and stories of our time on the South Island and Stewart Island are on: www.tenayatravels.com
04/01/2012, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Stewart Island is an amazing place! I know I've said this before, but this really might be our favorite place in all New Zealand. It was wonderful to visit the town of Oban after being in remote areas for two months. Fresh fruit and veggies, a restaurant, the delightful museum, and the informative Rakiura National Park Info Centre were all treats. The people we met there were incredibly friendly, inviting us to their homes, feeding us, and offering the use of their wifi and laundry facilities. One kind yachtie suggested we use his private mooring at Ulva Island which is a bird sanctuary. Late one afternoon we were the only people on the entire island.
A ferry service from Bluff and small planes from Invercargill bring visitors to Oban. Water taxis provide access to various places around Patterson Inlet, a large and protected natural harbor. Several well maintained tramping trails lead around and across the northern part of the island. Access to the southern part of the island is by boat or float plane only, and most longtime residents of Oban have never ventured down there.
No tracks or roads lead to Port Pegasus, another large and protected harbor fifty nautical miles south of Patterson Inlet. When the seas are furious outside, calm refuge can be found in one of the many coves inside.
Rugged, wind-swept bush and granite outcroppings cover the land. Sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins swim about in the waters rich in blue cod, paua (abalone) oysters and scallops. During our 10 days in Pegasus we saw 2 other yachts, 2 fishing boats and Southern Winds, the DOC boat with sea lion researchers on board. Many days we were the only boat in whichever arm we were anchored in. Dozens of tiny islands dot both the North and South Arms of Port Pegasus. What fun it was to kayak around the edges and explore the shoreline in complete solitude except for a barking sea lion on a sandy beach or the watchful gaze of a shag standing on the rocks.
Many people say blue cod is the best tasting fish there is. We agree. They are only found in southern NZ but the plump bottom feeders haven't figured out how precious they are or how to resist capture. True to what the guidebook says, they attack any baited hook with suicidal enthusiasm. We even had one jump onto a rock next to us! We scooped him into the kayak, the first time we'd ever caught a fish without a line. Large paua are plentiful in several anchorages hiding among the swaying kelp. At one point I found four in the space of one square meter. Oysters are easy to find and giant scallops were in abundance. I plucked 20, the limit, as quickly as I could dive and surface in 4-5 meters of water. I think we found paradise on Earth!
See more pictures and read stories of our time on Stewart Island at our website: www.tenayatravels.com.
03/09/2012, Evening Cove, Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, New Zealand
It's only an overnighter but one of those passages you don't take lightly. Having a good weather window is essential. Often there are high winds and contrary rough seas. We were told, more than once, to leave for Stewart Island if a Gale Warning was not in effect for the area. Highs and lows barrel across the Tasman Sea, often stacking up when the first slows over the South Island and creates an area of enhanced winds in Fiordland and Stewart Island which funnel through Foveaux Strait.
Puysegur Point is the south westernmost point of land on the South Island and also sits at the western edge of Foveaux Strait. The area is notorious for high winds, steep waves, strong tides, shallow depths and hidden rocks.
We decided to give Foveaux Strait a pass and sail directly from Dusky Sound down the western side of Stewart Island then up the east side a short distance to Port Pegasus. In doing so we rounded South Cape, one of the five great southern capes. Only Cape Horn is further south, a detail our nerves would not let us forget.
As usual for important passages, we consulted Commander's Weather, a routing service. At one point Brynn wrote to say they had not forgotten about our request, there was just no good window in sight. Good thing we were happy as clams in Dusky Sound! Eventually Oliver said we were good to go. A big high was coming and we'd have two really mellow days. It would probably mean motoring but we were fine with that. So off we went at 0700 on March 9.
We were certainly surprised when the weather report that evening said there was a Storm Warning for Puysegur. Area Puysegur covers part way down Fiordland to the bottom of Stewart Island. Not a Gale Warning, a Storm Warning. Where did that come from??? All we could do was ensure the boat was ready and Jim got plenty of sleep. Fat chance of that!
I heard some fishermen talking during my watch and they didn't think it would amount to much during the night. Jim relaxed when I told him that. It seemed the worst weather would be northwest of our position and arrive once we were safely anchored. Indeed, the winds never exceeded 10 knots and we had a very easy passage and arrived with our batteries fully charged.
We rounded South Cape on March 10, the same day that Captain Cook did 242 years before us, on his first voyage of discovery. Tenaya is anchored at Evening Cove in the South Arm of Port Pegasus with two sternlines tied to shore. It's a wildlife reserve with topography and vegetation completely different from Fiordland. As we entered we passed a rare yellow-eyed penguin lazily fishing who barely acknowledged us and a sea lion bull that chased us, or greeted us, I'm not sure which. There is only one town on the island, Oban, and it is further north. No roads or tracks come anywhere near Port Pegasus. It is completely isolated. We are looking forward to exploring this remote and picturesque area of granite domes, low hills and shallow valleys, scrubby brush and boggy earth.
02/28/2012, Pickersgill Harbour, Dusky Sound, Fiordland New Zealand
The wild coasts and inner fiords walled by dramatic, pristine, forested peaks in Fiordland continue to amaze us. Fifteen fiords, mistakenly named sounds, make up the vast Fiordland National Park, the largest in New Zealand. Those in the north, including Milford Sound, are narrow and steep-sided. Those further south are lower with wide open mouths. Yes, the word fiord is spelled with an i here.
Most of the sounds have a single entrance but there are two complexes where a boat can enter through one sound and exit via another. The calm waters and multitude of anchorages inside provide a safe haven compared to the often blustery conditions outside. Thompson Sound runs mostly NE to SW where it joins with both Bradshaw Sound that branches inland and Doubtful Sound that protrudes inland to the SE or out to sea.
We spent two weeks in the Doubtful Sound complex, mostly in Deep Cove at the head of Doubtful Sound. The plan was to motor up, have a look at the spectacular scenery, top off the fuel tanks in Deep Cove and leave the next day. But we made friends with Billy, the manager of the trust, and he had all kinds of things for us to see and do and eat. We hunted possum, took a dip in a cool, clear pool, ate the biggest spiny lobster either of us had ever seen and went searching for kiwi at night. When our starter motor failed he arranged for a replacement that arrived in less than 48 hours.
Twenty miles south of Doubtful Sound is the entrance to Breaksea Sound and the Dusky Sound complex. Breaksea runs ENE and splits into two narrow arms, Vancouver and Broughton. The Acheron Passage connects Breaksea with Dusky Sound running south along the eastern side of Resolution Island. Wet Jacket Arm slices inland about halfway down the passage. Dusky Sound is the longest in Fiordland at 43.9 km. Its entrance is quite broad and scattered with dozens of small islands and many hazardous rocks. Captain Cook named the area Dusky Bay as he passed by during his first voyage in the Endeavour on March 14, 1770.
We had a fantastic day sailing down from Doubtful to Breaksea. With following winds 15-30 knots accompanied by fog and intermittent rain, it just seemed right for this part of the world. At the head of Breaksea several dolphins frolicked at the bow until we pulled into Third Cove anchorage.
The next night we stayed in a tiny ribbon of water sheltered between Stick Island and the mainland where we anchored and tied a sternline to shore and a line from midships to the island. Viscous sandflies attacked what little bits of skin were exposed around my ankles and hands as I cleaned the mussels I'd gathered while kayaking around the rock strewn shores of impenetrable bush. It seemed a very long way from civilization.
We made our way to Dusky Sound along the glassy water reflecting the land on either side until we rounded Long Island and steered down the narrow Cook Channel. Captain Cook sailed this section in the Resolution during his second voyage in 1773. He charted the area and named many locations.
We spent several nights tied to a mooring outside Luncheon Cove, a safe and quiet anchorage where he dined on crayfish, thus the name. At the moment we are anchored in Pickersgill Harbour which he named after his third lieutenant, Richard Pickersgill, who found it. A snug little cove, trees drape both sides while a stream empties into the end. Cook backed his bark in, tied to shore, and stayed a month.
Nowadays there is a boardwalk to Astronomer Point where Cook established an observatory and forge to repair the ship's ironworks. A track follows Cook Stream up to Lake Forster, named after the German scientist on board. It doesn't look like we'll have a good window to get to Preservation Inlet or across to Stewart Island in the next few days so we'll continue to enjoy this outer area of Dusky Sound. Hiking, mussel and paua (abalone) collecting, snorkeling and kayaking will keep us busy. What's a little rain �...?