It was a lovely sunny morning, but unfortunately Tim's time in Fiordland had come to an end and he was catching the first bus over the Wilmot Pass. He packed up and popped over to check what time the bus left, then came back saying it was leaving in five minutes – I rowed him back to the bus and we said quick good-byes, and then he and the bus were gone. I didn't have long on my own though, as Dad arrived 30 minutes later, we had a cup of hot chocolate and then were off. I had thought Dad would be with me until Wednesday, but there was no early enough bus on Wednesday to get him back so he would only be with me until Tuesday afternoon. It would be a quick trip and there was much to see! We headed down to Hall Arm – this is the deepest arm in Doubtful Sound and absolutely stunning, with high mountains surrounding the whole of the arm. It was sunny the whole way and glassy calm. We arrived at the head of Hall Arm and with no wind, floated around in one spot and had a good lunch, and then headed off back out Hall Arm to Blanket Bay. The wind picked up as we left Hall Arm, and we motored up passing to the east side of Elizabeth and Fergusson Islands. It was slow going with the wind on the nose, but we made reasonable time and decided to head into Bradshaw Sound and back up to the spot I had stayed with Tim two nights before at Macdonell Island. We had a good sail down Bradshaw Sound, and it was again lovely and calm on the mooring. A dinner of steak, salad and wine followed, and a restful night on the mooring.
Monday was another absolutely lovely sunny day, glassy calm when we left the mooring and headed down the Gaer Arm where we moored in the same spot as Tim and I had moored two days earlier. This was very close the mudflats, which rise quickly – its a bit of a trick to be in shallow enough water to not have to let out all the chain, but deep enough so as not to drift and get stuck on the mudbanks. We headed out in the dinghy up to where the Camelot River entered the sound. It took a couple of attempts to find the right branch to follow, with Dad pulling the dinghy across a couple of spots where it was too shallow to motor (I had my leaky seaboots on). It was a really lovely trip up the river. The Camelot River is a sizeable river, and we passed first scrub with rather tame (or at least completely unscared of humans) geese and paradise ducks, and then thick bush on either side, and high rock banks as we got further inland. We went about a mile upstream until we reached a point where it shallowed and the hillsides opened out again, when we turned back and headed back down to the sound and Honey. The wind was starting to pick up and we headed out of Gaer Arm, having lunch on the way and looking for a spot to do some fishing – it was going to be fish for dinner so we needed to catch something. The wind had really picked up down Bradshaw Sound, to about 25 knots and there were few if any sheltered places to fish. We motored out of Bradshaw Sound, with Dad snoozing in the cockpit on his 2 day cruise on Honey, and we looked for a spot to fish at the start of Thompson Sound. It was still blowing hard down Thompson Sound, but we pulled into the side and Dad tried a go at fishing with me working to hold Honey in place. No luck there, only a few “bait fish”, so we thought we'd try the opposite side of Thompson Sound where hopefully it would be a bit more sheltered. Again it was me helming Honey while Dad fished, with no less wind and no luck, except a couple of Jock Stewarts – perhaps that would have to be dinner. I spied a spot on the chart across the other side of the sound, close to where we had first tried, and suggested we try there. There was no shelter, so I was motoring Honey to keep her on the “spot”, but it was successful – Dad caught us a decent sized cod, which would provide us a good feed for dinner! We headed to Blanket Bay, Dad filleted the cod and we had another lovely meal of cod, salad and wine. A cray boat “Zayla Jay” was tied up at the wharf and another yacht “Zanadoo” arrived and moored in Blanket Bay.
The next morning with Zayla Jay off early, we headed over to Zanadoo who were filling up with water at Blanket Bay, and had a chat with them. They were heading down to Breaksea Sound today, having left from Wellington a couple of weeks ago. They had travelled down from Nelson, motoring all the way to miss the SW fronts, taking 60 hours for the whole trip – rather quick for motoring I thought, and were heading from Breaksea to Dusky, around Stewart Island and back up the east coast to Wellington. With Zanadoo at the water pipe and another boat waiting, we decided to head on to First Arm, the first arm of Doubtful Sound directly across from Blanket Bay. We nosed up there to Snug Cove at the end and picked up a mooring where we took in the lovely view and had a cup of tea, before heading back out of the arm and up Doubtful towards Deep Cove. There was very little wind, and after sailing for a few minutes at only 2 knots, we pulled in the headsail and carried on motoring. Only about half an hour later, the wind picked up and we were back sailing. The wind freshened, and we had a lovely sail in 25 knots of wind all the way into Deep Cove, averaging about 5.5-6 knots. Arriving with about half an hour before Dad was scheduled to check in, we had a quick lunch and I dropped Dad off at the bus and followed him up with my gerry cans to refuel. Good-bye to Dad, and again he and the bus were gone and I was again on my own to carry on my way up the coast. All refueled now and I've got a copy of the weather charts for the next few days from Paul, the skipper of Real Journey's charter boat, Patea Explorer. Interestingly he used to work for Westerway Sails in the UK making sails for Sadler 32 yachts, so he may have made Honey's sails – small world! I'm now waiting for the day breeze to die down, and my plan is to head up to Blanket Bay this evening (if it dies out soon). Then tomorrow out of Thompson Sound and up to Charles Sound, skipping out Nancy Sound which I'll pass by. This is a rather short stint of open sea sailing, with most of it running out of Thompson Sound and into Charles Sound. On Thursday, a SW of 20 knots is forecast which should make for lovely sailing up to George Sound, and then by the weekend if all goes well with the weather I should be up to Milford Sound. From there I will ready myself for the long sail up to Golden Bay and Nelson, and wait for a good settled weather window with what I hope will be nice southerly breezes – enough so I don't need to motor and not so much that I can't get any rest, here's hoping!