Sailing around New Zealand

Emily is sailing solo around New Zealand on her 32 foot yacht Honey, from Lyttelton south down the east coast, around the bottom of Stewart Island, up the west coast of the South and North Islands and down the east coast back to Lyttelton. The whole adventure is expected to take 3 months. This blog will provide updates as I travel (when I have mobile reception to upload).

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Lords River

Yesterday was forecast to be 15 knots NW and 30 knots south of Shelter Point. (Port Adventure where I was is just north of Shelter Point and Lords River is to the south). Still flat calm in Port Adventure when I left in the morning, but I was expecting to pick up a decent breeze to get me the short distance to Lords River. Would you believe it, flat calm the whole way, I had to motor as the sails were just flapping, quite a contrast from the days I've had in Stewart Island so far! I anchored in “The Nook” in Lords River and went exploring by dinghy, making sure I could catch the outgoing tide coming back down. It was more like a long winding waterway with bush down to the water than a river, although the water did get a lot less salty the further up I went. I figured I went about 3 miles upstream before I turned back. And by the time I returned to Honey it was pouring with rain, a light SW came through but the Nook provided good shelter and I settled in to an afternoon of reading my book.

This morning I heard that the long term weather sounds great for at least the next few days. So I've come back to Half Moon Bay to pick up boat hooks that Tim had couriered down to me (I lost one a few days ago) and restock on gas, diesel and food. My plan is to head down to Port Pegasus tomorrow, at the bottom of Stewart Island (I may start heading down this eve to Port Adventure to get a head start if the NE forecast comes through in the next hour). Then the plan is to spend Saturday looking about and possibly walking up Magog. If all still looks good with the weather then I'll duck around to Broad Bay for the night so I can make an early start on Sunday morning around the bottom of Stewart Island bound for Preservation Inlet in Fiordland – running right through the middle of area Puysegur which has the wildest weather in New Zealand. It is fair to say that I am rather nervous at the thought! Of course plans can change with the weather, I may end up going the day before, a day or two later or not at all. I won't have internet for a while, hopefully will pick it up somewhere in Fiordland, but my Spot will be tracking me.

Thanks everyone for posting your comments, its really great to know people are following me – it doesn't make me feel so alone on the high seas!

Paradise Found – Port Adventure

Now this is what I had envisaged with my journey – today (22nd Jan) was a perfect day! Up early to get ready to sail down to Port Adventure from Half Moon Bay, listening to the weather and placing my sked call. I set off at 7.45am, and the wind was already starting to pick up to a bit over 15 knots. It was a lovely run down to Port Adventure, passing below 47ยบ South, with winds varying from almost dead to gusts of over 20-25 knots, it kept me busy with adjusting the sails and I arrived in no time. The only slight annoyance was a bumble bee that flew next to Honey and me the whole way down and is still hanging around! Safely moored in Abraham's Bosom by 11am, I had the whole day to explore and relax. After I'd tidied up and stowed the ropes and sails, I jumped into the dinghy and across to the lovely beach I was moored next to, a short bush wack through to the other side and I landed in paradise – the most beautiful deserted golden sand beach, except for a few deer tracks!

I walked the length of the beach, and then decided it was about time for my first swim of the year – it was actually warm and sunny, so a quick skinny dip and a walk back to the other end of the beach. Next up it was back to the dinghy and an explore in the cove where I was anchored, up to the end where a stream came out, and up the stream in the dinghy to a waterfall, surrounded by native bush, so beautiful, and then I let the breeze blow me back to Honey.

A quick lunch – leftover sausage stew from last night and I settled into an afternoon of relaxing and reading in the sun, and swatting away pesky bumble bees. The only folk I have seen since I have been here are some lads who are staying in a hut nearby that came by in their dinghy and said hi. The breeze completely died off and I almost forgot I was on a boat, glassy calm with not even any lapping. A good opportunity for a shower – I had filled up the solar shower when I bucketed water into Honey's tanks yesterday, and then to top off a perfect day I thought I'd treat myself to a Rheineck!

Today has been really restorative and I feel for the first time in more than a week that I can keep going with my goal of circumnavigating New Zealand. My confidence (and tolerance) had taken a knock with the wild weather since I arrived in Stewart Island. Of course, this assumes the weather plays ball, as it is wild and unpredictable in these parts, even more so this summer than normal.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Paterson Inlet

Tim arrived by plane to Stewart Island on Monday 14th, the day after we arrived. We had a lovely time exploring Paterson Inlet, starting off by catching more cod than we really needed in the space of about 20 minutes. It was cod for breakfast, lunch and dinner!! We visited the beautiful Millars Beach, stayed a night in Kaipipi, then two nights in Sailors Rest where it rained and even hailed!! Then back to Faith, Hope and Charity where I am now. Tim left yesterday afternoon, and Anders Gillies took off about 7.30am this morning sailing back to Lyttelton.

My plans now are to refuel and rewater Honey early this afternoon, then I'm heading off to Port Adventure a little way south of here either later today if I'm ready in time or early tomorrow morning. There's a high in the area so finally some settled weather for a few days! Then at this stage the plan is back to Paterson Inlet on Wednesday, although being at the mercy of the weather that could change.

Dunedin to Stewart Island

I'm writing from Oban, Stewart Island, and will update my blog in more detail when I have a better connection and can download photos... it was an early start on Saturday 12th when I left Dunedin to Stewart Island. On checking the weather, there appeared to be a small weather window, so kicking Tim off Honey before 6am in the morning, I headed out of Otago Harbour and had a lovely trip down the coast and past the Nuggets. I was settling in for the night when the wind got up, and before long I was racing across Foveaux Strait. All good until I heard the forecast at 0133 - it had changed to gale warning westerlies, so i was in a race against time to get to Stewart island before I was blown out to sea - made for a pretty stressful night! Fortunately arrived into Paterson Inlet with an hour to spare, had no sooner settled down for some rest when the gales arrived and I dragged anchor. Very tired and scared, but fortunately managed to pick up a mooring, wrestle my anchor up and find a safer mooring to tie to - this took several hours and it was evening when I finally settled down.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

At the mercy of the wild southern weather

I'm all set to leave to head down to Stewart Island, restocked on food, water and diesel. It has been gale force winds since I arrived in Dunedin, except for a calm few hours in the evening yesterday before it unexpectantly blew 40+ knots overnight. It looked like a weather break for tomorrow and Saturday, now not too sure whether it is closing in... Rather than leaving the mooring now, I'll reassess this evening and then again at 3am. (I need to leave the mooring with the high tide, which is now and in the early hours of the morning).

If I do go overnight, then there is no mobile phone coverage in Stewart Island or Fiordland, so I may not be able to update my blog for weeks. I do plan to maintain my blog, and will upload when I'm next able to. (If I can, I will try to gain access to the internet in Oban (Stewart Island) before I head further south). You will be able to track my progress from the Spot Tracker. When I leave I will send an "Ok" message; while I am travelling 10 minute updates will show with my position (when I am visible to the satellites, it won't work when I'm in the cabin or under the bimini); and when I'm safely anchored at my destination I will send another "Ok" message. If I hit bad weather, I can also send a message to that effect. Now I'm just hoping for this weather window to be sufficient to leave on...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tim's 40th Birthday

Sunday felt like my first real day of holiday – a slow start to the day, cleaning the mess that the seagulls had left on the deck and stringing up some tape and plastic to keep them away, and a wander into Dunedin (Kevin, the manager of the Otago Yacht Club actually gave me a ride and I walked back). Real go-slow mode, which made a welcome change from the busyness of the last few months. And then I got a message from Tim to say he was on his way down, already in Timaru, fantastic! So back into action, cooking a late lunch, making the yacht all ship-shape, wrapping presents, baking a birthday cake and cleaning up. Yes, that was me baking a cake – without a kitchen whizz, using Honey's gas oven and with my lack of baking prowess, it didn't end up looking fantastic but edible, just!
Honey's cabin - my home for the next 3 months
Tim arrived down and on his birthday (yesterday – Monday), we had a relaxing day – took a drive over the Otago Peninsula and walked out past the pyramids to Victory Beach. And passed a rather tetchy sea lion along the way! Very windy SW, looking out to the open sea we could see how wild it was, we were both really pleased that I was tucked up in a sheltered mooring rather than facing those seas! The pyramids were quite impressive, extinct volcanoes and an interesting rock structure, very similar to what I have seen before in Iceland.

Otago Harbour
The Pyramids
Victory Beach
In the evening we went out into Dunedin for a birthday dinner, hunted around and found a popular Thai restaurant and had a lovely meal out, then home to Honey for birthday cake!

Happy Birthday Tim!
On the weather front, it looks like there is a break in the SW winds on Friday, so my plan at this stage is to leave early, about 4am with high tide. This should get me to the Nuggets by end of light on Friday and then by daybreak I should be in Foveaux Strait and arriving into Stewart Island early afternoon on Saturday. Its hard to predict the weather with any confidence 3 days out, but hopefully this is what pans out. Until then, Tim and I plan to visit Taieri Mouth today – a fishing village a little way south and the start of the Catlins, and probably a visit to Moeraki tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

First overnighter, in Dunedin

Well, I completed my first over-night sail by myself, leaving from Akaroa about 10am on Friday morning and arriving into Otago Harbour late afternoon/early evening yesterday. It was a lovely sail - NE winds most the way, not too strong, between 10 knots variable when I left and up to only about 25 knots northerly at one point. An uneventful trip, which is always a good one, no mishaps along the way! Not too many other boats on the water, just a couple of fishing boats when I got close to Otago Peninsula and what I think was a foreign ship sitting well out to sea. It had super bright lights - I could see the glow from about 30 miles off - I wondered for a while if it was the glow of Dunedin's lights!
Banks Peninsula disappearing behing me - looks like an island from out at sea!

Otago Harbour is a beautiful peninsula, I'd never appreciated that on times that I've previously come down to Dunedin. It was quite a long run up the harbour to where I'm moored now - about 12 nautical miles, 2 hours motoring. I got in a bit too early for the tide - I'm moored at the Otago Yacht Club marina and the depth of water is only 0.9m at low tide. With a draught of 1.9m I had to wait until 8pm to enter (actually it was 9pm, but I misheard the directions but made it in with 0.2m under the keel!)

It looks like I'll be here for a few days at least - strong winds in Foveaux Strait, with gale force winds and 30-40 knots westerly (just what I don't want) for the next few days. Still, not a bad place to be...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The first shakedown leg

It was so good to finally set sail this morning. A big thank you to my farewell party!!

It was a lovely sail around to Akaroa, I had a large pod of dolphins – up to about 20 or 25 at one time – following me most of the way, so I didn't feel like I was on my own. All was fine until I got outside Akaroa Heads... the wind picked up suddenly to about 30 knots... I was up the bow and the poor little autohelm couldn't manage and jibed, and the headsail got wrapped around the furler. It took a few minutes to untangle, throw in a reef and get back on track, so if there were a few of the spot trackers around the same spot outside Akaroa Heads that will be why. Now I'm tucked up in Akaroa, and about to curl up for the night. Just watched a big fireworks display. My plan is to leave from here for Port Chalmers at about 0800 tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Finally a break in the weather

With the weather looking nasty, Tim and I took off to Peel Forest for a couple of nights - to get out of Lyttelton, take a break from boat preparations and get some much needed rest. Feeling refreshed, except for a lack of sleep last night when the norwest wind gusted to about 70 knots - I was really pleased not to be out on the water in those winds! - we arrived back this afternoon, I stocked up on perishables, and now have packed clothes so all ready to go.

It looks like the southerly that has just hit should pass by the early morning, so I will finally be able to set sail! My plan is to leave from Lyttelton at about 11am tomorrow and head to Akaroa - this will be a bit of a "shakedown" trip before the next leg. Assuming the weather holds, I will then be off to Port Chalmers (Dunedin) the following morning. The next southerly front looks set to come through on Saturday night, so not enough time to make a run all the way to Stewart Island, but at least I'll be half way there. Really pleased to finally be getting on my way!!