Photo shows "Sounds Fine" steaming down the Kenepuru Sound.
We've been keeping away from ice and snow by moving North in the South Island. Nelson and Marlborough are two of NZ's sunniest regions and the sun has been shining since we left Kaikoura. No doubt that will soon be about to change, but for now we are enjoying the warmth and blue skies.
First stop was the town of Blenheim, where old yachtie friends, Alastair and Vivienne, have comfortably settled in a relatively new house on a hillside out of town, conveniently right next to a vineyard and a golf course. Since selling their 40 foot Island Packet, "Largo Star," they have bought a new, smaller motor cruiser, perfect for cruising the extensive network of waterways in the Marlborough Sounds. They wanted to rename the cruiser "Piwakawaka" after the movements of the fantail, but gave up after learning that according to Māori legend, it was the harbinger of death!
We went for a short cruise up the Kenepuru Sound with them from their marina in Havelock, enough to give us an idea of this potential new cruising ground. Unfortunately, it's not an easy task sailing down to the SI from Northland. A Belgian yachtie we first met in Tenerife was on a mooring in Picton, on holiday from Wellington, 30 nm across the Cook Strait. He crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific at the same time as us and got work in Auckland, then sailed down the East Coast of the North Island in "Boxing Kangaroo" to take up a new job in Wellington. Bregt single-handedly stopped Saraoni from dragging on to rocks while we were off walking in Isla Isabela in the Galapagos. The boat dragged as the wind got up, then luckily passed a mooring, just as Bregt got to it to tie it up securely.
Next stop is the Abel Tasman National Park. We might come back later to walk the Queen Charlotte Track that lies along the Sound of the same name.
"Sounds Fine" in Havelock marina. The Sounds are more suited to chugging along in a motor boat than in a yacht.
Alastair and Geoff in "Sounds Fine," Vivienne steering.
Kenepuru Sound, looking East
Freddy, the dog, Geoff, Alastair and Vivienne. Geoff's just looking chuffed after not collapsing after a 3.5 km walk near Havelock
Queen Charlotte Sound from the windy road between Picton and Havelock