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).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Into the Marlborough Sounds (5-6 March)

With the large high still lingering over New Zealand, it was another beautiful sunny and calm day. I had a slow start to the day – the best window to pass through French Pass was around 2-2.30pm – so I spent the morning doing a tidy up in the cabin and reading my book. At midday I pulled up anchor and noticed the other yacht in the bay had dropped their mooring, they obviously had the same plan as me to take this window through French Pass. The tidal flows run at great speeds through French Pass and generate eddies and whirl pools so its recommended that yachts pass through at the turn of the tide when these are least strong, particularly as yachts generally do not have high powered engines to counter the tides and eddies. Today is a neap tide day, so I would have a slightly longer tide window. The wind was blowing lightly from the north east, in the direction I was travelling, so I motored up to French Pass at 5 knots. The yacht that had moored in the same bay as me the night before passed through the gap between Channel Point and the rock in the middle of the pass a few minutes ahead of me, and then I came through at 7 knots thanks to a bit of assistance from the tidal current. There were no whirl pools, but there were a line of white caps at the other side of French Pass, presumably generated from the tide moving against the wind. I had arrived into the Marlborough Sounds! With the wind still light and on the nose, I motored across Admiralty Bay towards Clay Point, back into territory that I know well. Rounding Clay Point, with Trio Islands and Rangitoto Islands off my port side, I unfurled the headsail, although this provided very little assistance if any with the very light winds. As I passed Chetwode Islands and rounded into Pelorus Sound, it was a strange feeling to be arriving from sea into the Marlborough Sounds – a strange mix of satisfaction and also sadness, not because my plans to also circumnavigate the North Island were unlikely to be fulfilled at this time, but because I was seeing the Sounds through fresh eyes and it seemed touched to such a great extent by humans. I had always seen the Pelorus Sound as such a beautiful and remote place, but what I saw when I arrived today were hillsides that had been stripped of their natural bush for farming and for forestry plantations, with great naked areas of hillside where the trees had been harvested, lines and lines of mussel buoys in each bay and large gaudy houses sticking out like pimples on prominent headlands. There were also a number of lovely baches nestled into the bays, but the large houses were certainly the ones that stuck out! I had to remind myself that I have spent most of the last 8 weeks in some of the most pristine national parkland in the world, with Stewart Island, Fiordland and then Abel Tasman, and very little of the Marlborough Sounds is park land. Still, it was an emotion I had not expected, and it was disappointing for me that a place I loved so much didn't seem to cut-it in my eyes against the other places I had visited. I motor sailed down through Waitata Reach, a barge passing close by me. It was stacked high with logs that I doubt it could see me until we were passing abreast. I passed Maud Island and all the bays I know well. The forecast was for northerly 15 knots, and as the sun set and it started to get dark I pulled into Fairy Bay and dropped anchor. I was still working to set the anchor when some locals arrived in their speed boat and kindly suggested I pick up one of the moorings in the bay, which I did and settled in for the evening.

It was another fine morning, with just a little cloud that quickly dissipated. I left Fairy Bay just after 9am, keen to get into Dad's place in Kenepuru Sound – I knew there was quite a lot that I needed to do before I got a ride down to Christchurch with Mum the next day. There was a little wind and I sailed across to Turn Point at the start of Hikapu Reach, and then motor sailed to the start of Kenepuru Sound. Turning into Kenepuru Sound, it was beautiful, touched by humans but still lovely and I was definitely pleased to be here! I motor sailed until Schnapper Point where I cut the motor and sailed at 5 knots under the headsail towards “Chunda Cove”, as Dad's place is known as. Passing Te Mahia, the wind speed reduced and I headed into Chunda Cove at 2-3 knots. By the time I got close to the beach I was sailing/drifting at 1-2 knots, and rounded up and drifted onto the floater at the end of the jetty. I was here! Rather strange to arrive from the sea to a house that is fully shut up. I tied Honey to the floater and headed up to fetch the keys from Brian Clark at the top of the driveway. The rest of the day was one of busyness – I did four loads of laundry (with it being sunny, calm and 29 degrees, the previous load was dry before each of the following loads were hung up), moved all my perishable food into the house fridge, cleaned up Honey, removed the wind turbine, autohelm and my gas bottle that had run out the night before, replaced some of the sail slides that had broken on the main sail and a few other jobs. I had forgotten about the census forms the night before, so I filled these out retrospectively – my address being “Yacht Honey, Fairy Bay, Pelorus Sound, Marlborough”, and then completing the dwelling form for Honey. A kitchen, living room and bedroom countered as one room each, even if there were in a studio unit, so Honey now officially has 4 rooms – 2 bedrooms, a galley and a living space – I thought this was quite funny! Jill Edwards, who lived a few bays away, was heading into Blenheim the next morning, and offered to give me a ride – fantastic! After dinner and the luxury of a shower, I headed back down to Honey on the floater, ready for an early start into Blenheim the next day.

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