We stayed overnight on the 9th in Deep Cove and decided on an 8am start out to Blanket Bay to evaluate whether or not we should continue down to Dusky. Gavin and Ro on Pacific Flyer were leaving at the same time, and also heading down towards Dusky. Both boats set off and it was rather windy running up through Doubtful, about 25 knots on the nose and we crawled out at 3-3.5 knots. At Blanket Bay, Pacific Flyer filled up with water and picked up news from one of the tourist boats that it was 15 knots from the NW and lumpy outside the sound – great, we're up for that! We readied Honey to go, and both Pacific Flyer and Honey nosed out to the head of Doubtful, passing through the Gap between Bauza and Secretary Islands. On Honey, we raised the main and headsail, and Pacific Flyer sailed down on their headsail. The winds quickly picked up to about 25 and then 30 knots and we reefed down to 2 reefs in the main and furled up the headsail. With Tim on the helm we had a superfast ride, averaging about 7-8 knots and topping out at 11.3 knots! I don't push her so hard as there is no way the autohelm can handle being overpowered and I don't want to be stuck at the helm. It was raining and poor vis all the way, and we only saw snippets of Pacific Flyer, first off to our right and then crossing in front of us. Being 8 ft longer than Honey she was a bit faster, but we were only about five minutes behind as we entered Breaksea Sound. The wind gusted up to 35-40 knots with willi-wars as we entered the sound (fortunately had just reefed down to 3 reefs in the main and pulled in the headsail). We both moored up next to the barge Uni in Sunday Cove, or “Uncle Uni” as we came to call it, and treated ourselves to a beer and nibbles on Pacific Flyer. That was a good day!
The next day (11th February) dawned and it was time to head down to Dusky. The rain had cleared and it was a lovely overcast day. We headed off down the Acheron Passage and Pacific Flyer stayed to check out Breaksea Sound. It was a stunning trip down Acheron, my first trip down in the daytime so I was getting to see it for the first time too. All the rain meant dozens upon dozens of waterfalls cascading down the rock faces – beautiful! Without wind we motored down until we entered Dusky at the end of the Acheron Passage and picked up enough wind to slowly sail towards Cooper Island and Sportsman Cove. Sportsman Cove is a wonderful wee spot – it has a narrow entrance of only a few metres across and then opens out into a rather large fully enclosed cove – large enough for wind to funnel about in the right conditions but being rather calm when we were there it was lovely and peaceful. We dropped anchor and lunched at the far end with views of the cove surrounding us and the higher mountains of Dusky behind. On leaving Sportsman Cove we motored down Cook Channel on the south side of Long Island down towards Cascade Cove – Tim was keen to see the barge where I had spent a few days tied up, and its a lovely little spot and well protected. After we'd tied up, one of the cray boats “Loyal” arrived, and we moved back onto the rope so they could tie up next to the barge. We got offered crayfish but by this stage had had our fill and had to say no – its pretty tough down here having so much seafood we have to start turning it down!
12th February was a wonderful day. Loyal had left early, I hadn't even heard them get away and we had a leisurely start to the day, filling up with water before we left the barge. Another yacht, Noe Noe arrived and we got chatting with them, being aware that they were down here – they're a couple based in Queenstown who have given up their jobs for a couple of years to sail around the Pacific and New Zealand. With their long sailing adventure coming to an end, they are selling their yacht, and returning to their dog and the mountains, but they have another 2 or 3 months to go yet. They had caught up briefly with Pacific Flyer in Wet Jacket Arm off the Acheron Passage that morning. We said good bye and headed around to Pickersgill Harbour and Astronomer Point so that Tim could see where Cook had landed. We moored in the bay at the entrance to Cook Stream, very close to where Resolution had been moored, and took a look around Astronomer Point. We then went out through the narrow gap between Crayfish Island and the mainland that Resolution had passed through – a narrow enough gap that it was only twice the width of Resolution – we figure they must have had to row through a gap that size rather than sail. And we motored the short distance out to Luncheon Cove, navigating our way through Many Islands. We had expected there to be noone else in Luncheon as we thought we knew of all the boats that were travelling around the fiords at that time, but there was a tiny little boat tied up inside – it was “Emma”, a 20 foot keeler that a German chap was sailing in. He didn't say much, we think as much as anything as he didn't have any sandfly protection or netting on his boat, but we understand from some French sailors we met later on that he had come from Wellington, and possibly Germany before then in his little boat. Mooring up in Luncheon, Honey looked like a huge yacht next to Emma! Tim and I had lunch on board and then took the dinghy into the start of the tracks on Anchor Island. This time we took the right fork and had a lovely walk up to Anchor Island Lake – this is a large lake that almost cuts Anchor Island in half. It was a cool overcast day but a great day for a walk. We stopped beside the lake and took in the view before we walked further along until we came out onto a beach on the northern side of the island, and then back the way we had come. We stayed overnight in Luncheon Cove, after having yet another very good day.
It rained a lot that night, and was still raining in the morning so we had a slow start. Noe Noe arrived late morning and now there were three yachts tied up in Luncheon – as Tim said, we may need to start booking slots for a mooring space! We figured there would be only half a dozen or so yachts in Fiordland, so quite funny that three were tied up in Luncheon. We left Luncheon and went a different way out through Many Islands, admiring the incredible view. There were seals lounging on a rock and playing around it, and we nosed on down to Stop Island to see if we could view the wreck “Waikare” which had sunk during a summer cruise in 1910. It was clearly completely submerged, so we carried on passing north of Passage Islands and glimpsing views of the islands north of Anchor Island. There was a good breeze which carried us down the Bowen Channel on the north side of Long Island, but we lost the wind as soon as we entered the Acheron Passage. A motor up the Acheron Passage and it was as beautiful as it was when we had passed down it two days before, with watefalls still spilling down the sides. Rather than stay that evening on Uncle Uni, we thought we'd check out a bit more of Breaksea Sound and we headed up to Second Cove which is most of the way up the sound before it splits into Vancouver Arm and Broughton Arm. We dropped anchor and picked up a stern line, and I spoke to Dad who was keen to come into Doubtful and come out on Honey for a few days on Sunday – I let him know we would be heading back to Doubtful the next day, weather pending.