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, 28 February 2013

Spectacular Milford (24 February)

I didn't sleep super well last night, waking up at 3am and hearing the wind whistling outside – it had been so calm in the evening before I went to bed, where did this wind come from? And then I realised, Bligh Sound has the second steepest sides of all the fiords (second to Milford), it was a beautiful clear night and with a large high pressure system above – this must be katabatic winds. Fortunately they didn't come to much and I held firm in the anchorage all night. I left soon after sunrise, bound for Milford. There was a small puff of wind that helped me out of Bligh, and then another day of glassy calm seas all the way up to St Annes Point at the entrance to Milford. It was also very warm and not a cloud in the sky, so another day for shorts and t-shirt – the auto-pilot steered while I basked on the cabin top, taking in the views as they unfolded. There is a shallow area just before St Annes Point where there were some cod or cray pots – great, another good spot for fishing! Half of Milford Sound is a marine reserve, and the other half has a cod fishing ban, and as I'd almost finished my previous cod it was a good chance to restock. I drifted around on this spot for the best part of two hours – not a great catch to show for my efforts – a smallish cod (not undersize but small by Fiordland standards), a large Jock Stewart and a butterfly perch, plus many many of the red “bait fish” as I call them. But it was lovely being out there in the sun all the same. I trundled into Milford filleting the fish and cleaning up as we went. It didn't take long before I saw the steady stream of tourist boats, travelling out on the south side of the sound, and back in on the north side. There was still no wind until I rounded Dale Point and then the day breeze hit – time to put up the headsail and I sailed in at about 7 knots with around 30 knots of wind, tourist boats and kayaks all around me, and about four planes overhead, no kidding this place really is touristy. But when you look at the fiord you can see why, it is absolutely spectacular with sides so steep that I reckon if you took a running leap off the top of some of the mountains you could land in the sea without hitting the sides. And some stunning steep waterfalls too.
I headed straight in to Deep Water Basin where the fishing boats tie up (and where visiting yachties can tie up too), and found a suitable berth. With noone about, I went for a wander and came across a chap from Real Journeys loading his van – he gave me a rundown on where things are in Milford and gave me a crayfish for dinner. I wandered back to Honey, and then met Ken from the Fiordland Lobster Company who looked after the berths at Deep Water Basin who had just arrived back from being away for the day. He took me for a quick tour of Milford and dropped me off at the Milford Lodge so I could check the internet. It didn't take a long look over the weather forecast to work out that tomorrow looks like the opportunity for me to set sail north – yippee! No time to update my blog, it was almost 8pm by this stage and I had a bit to do to get ready – I wanted to make sure I was gone in the morning before the day breeze set in. I spoke to Tim and he had been thinking exactly the same thing, so tomorrow it was. I quickly ran round to Ken's place to ask him if it would be possible to get fuel at about 8am in the morning, getting him out of bed, woops! He wasn't concerned even offering to run me back round to Deep Water Basin, and said he could make it that time or earlier. I walked back, needing the time to stretch the legs on land before I departed, and busied myself with the other things needed to be done – filling up with water, recharging my cordless drill, having a late dinner and the luxury of a shower and stowing away things on Honey. Then it was time for bed and a good night sleep, as there may not be much sleep for the next few days.

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