Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tomkinsons on Tour

Sailing is Fun

22nd January 2011 

41º 06.7 south

174º 13.3 east

Kate and the family joined us on Camomile for a holiday in Queen Charlotte sound.

Bill the skipper isn’t sure about Billy the dog


We had been at Picton marina just over a week when Kate, Barry, Will and Daisy came to join us.  So far the weather has been awful with wind and/or rain most days, one evening we recorded gusts of 43kts.  Not a lot has happened, we just got on with general living, shopping, washing, internet, etc.  Bill has remodelled my fridge by making it smaller using slabs of insulation board so it doesn’t suck so much power out of the batteries.  The tribe arrived on Saturday 22nd January to more rain.  There was a Maritime festival in Picton that day which we wandered around and the day ended with a wonderful firework display.  The next morning Barry and Billy the dog had to go back to Christchurch to work.  The rain continued.

Daisy with Camomile anchored in Cockle bay

Monday morning came along with a beautiful sunny, blue-sky day.  At last we could enjoy some better weather and we all decided we would go for a sail.  Everyone had showers (might be their last chance for a day or two) and we left the marina at 12.30 to enjoy a gentle sail up the sound with just the Genoa (foresail) flying. We managed a couple of hours before the wind dropped and we motored into the Bay of Many Coves and into Cockle cove.  It was a lovely spot.  The dinghy was lowered and we went ashore to explore the beach.  Bill cooked a delicious barbeque that evening. 

Early morning anchorage

The next morning we awoke to the most perfect scene.  The anchorage was stunning, without a breath of wind there were the most superb reflections around us, the lovely weather continued.  We left the anchorage at lunchtime with the intention of sailing to Ship Cove to see Cooks monument but the wind started to rise and as we got nearer to the open sea it started to get a bit rough so we motored into Endeavour inlet and anchored right up inside.  We had strong winds overnight but the anchor held fast. 

Daisy on the Queen Charlotte track

Will and Kate on the Queen Charlotte track

 The next morning the sun was back so we all got into the dinghy and went ashore to walk part of the Queen Charlotte track.  The track stretches from Ship cove to Anaiwa and passes through lush coastal forest, around bays and along skyline ridges.  It takes three to five days to complete the whole walk. The section around the Endeavour inlet isn’t very hilly and we had a wonderful stroll around to Punga Cove resort where we discovered they had buoys strong enough for Camomile, a bar, showers and a swimming pool ….. we were out voted and Bill and I brought Camomile around to the resort for the night. 

Camomile on a buoy at Punga cove

We all enjoyed the showers.  Bill and I walked further to the top of the next ridge and were rewarded with the most superb views.

Will gets a lesson in the rib

The next day, Thursday, we left at lunchtime again and needed to start heading back towards Picton.  It was very gusty but we put the Genoa out and everyone took turns on the helm.  During Kate’s turn we had a gust of 43kts and it knocked us right over.  Her face was a picture, she wasn’t sure if she should be worried or not.  The kids were holding on tight and we soon bobbed back up. It wasn’t a problem and we continued on down the sound.  We went into Onahau bay, just past the entrance to Picton.  We anchored in Mistletoe bay right at the top.  It had a small campsite ashore with a little shop that sold ice creams.  Bill gave Will a lesson on how to use the outboard while Kate, Daisy and I went to see the local animals. 

Will and Bill watching the seals


On Friday we motored the short distance back across to Picton and Bill drove Kate to Nelson airport so she could return early.  Will and Daisy spent the weekend with us and then we drove them back on the Monday.  We stopped in Kaikoura on the way down to look at the seals as they lay on the rocks in the sun. 


Sue’s had her hair cut

Sue with long hair

Having spent the last year in the tropics my hair was beginning to be a real nuisance.   It’s got so long and is very thick.  Washing it with limited water started to become a difficulty not to mention the long hairs being found in the shower trap or around the boat.  When we got to NZ I promised myself I would have it cut.  So while walking through the little mall to the supermarket I walked into the hairdressers and, after having a little chat on styles, I had it cut. 

The new Sue

What do you think?

We made it to South Island

Queen Charlotte sound

Queen Charlotte sound from Picton marina

12th January 2011

41º 17.2 south

174º 00.5 east

We’re moored at Picton marina overlooking the beautiful Queen Charlotte sound 

The Sun Princess

The Sun Princess


We made it to South Island but we can see why everyone says don’t bother to sail there.  We flew back to the boat on the 1st with a 3 to 4 day weather window ahead of us as a high moved over North Island.  We did a quick shop, filled the water tanks, fuelled up and left Gulf harbour the next day We had a wonderful 5-hour sail across to Barrier island and anchored in Puriri bay overnight.  It’s a shame we can’t stay longer on this coast but we have decided to head south this year.  We left the anchorage at dawn the following day with the Sun Princess for company and motored across the Bay of Plenty with only 2 kts of wind. 

East cape

East cape

I put the fishing line out and within a couple of hours had hooked a beautiful tuna.  Bill reeled it in and gutted it and we had delicious tuna for supper.  The wind returned at 3pm and we sailed into the night before it dropped just before 11pm.  It was a very dark night without any land or boats in sight.  The next day we rounded the notorious East Cape in a gentle Northerly without any problems.  After all the horror stories it turned out to be a pussycat.  A pod of 100+ dolphins crossed our bow just before the cape and the seas boiled with the joyful, leaping, twisting, jumping forms passing us as if we were standing still.  This was as far east as we planned to go and as we turned south we took the main down and poled out the genny.  Our timing was just right as the tide turned in our favour and we notched up speeds of 8 and 9kts.

It’s getting colder

It’s getting colder

The northerly wind continued to blow and gave us a lovely sail all through the night although it was now starting to get really cold.  We heard on the weather forecast that a gale was starting to blow in the Cook Strait so we decided to put into Napier.  The East coast of NZ is very inhospitable because it doesn’t have any where to shelter.  Napier was our only chance to stop.  We sailed across Napier bay and arrived at 8pm that evening. 

Sailing across the Cooks Strait

Sailing around Cape Palliser

We stayed there for 4 days until the Sunday when we heard on the forecast that there was a small weather window to get round Cape Palliser and into the Cooks Strait or we would have to wait until at least Thursday.  We left at 6.30 pm Sunday along with a kiwi boat and spent the first night beating into a 20kt southerly which was b*****y cold coming straight off the Antarctic. Unfortunately Pete and Simon decided to go back as they didn’t have an auto helm and hand steering into the heavy seas would have been very uncomfortable; we think they made the right decision. We pressed on as the wind gradually abated and arrived off Cape Palliser at 9am on the Tuesday just as the tide was turning in our favour. 

Lining up the day marks at the entrance to the Tory channel

Lining up the day marks at the entrance to the Tory channel

The forecast south-easterly didn’t appear and unbelievably we motored across the Straits with the sea like a millpond.  (We didn’t complain!)  We entered Queen Charlotte sound through the Tory channel at 6pm on a beautiful sunny evening and anchored in a quiet bay overnight. 

Sharing the sound with the ferry

Sharing the sound with the ferry


We sailed on down into Picton on the Wednesday morning. 

Camomile in the centre of the picture in Picton marina

Camomile in the centre of the picture in Picton marina

So we made it but I think we’ve found the Kiwi Scotland.  The scenery is stunning but it’s much colder here than it was in North Island.  Luckily I bought those UGG boots in Fiji!  Is it worth coming all this way?  For us it was because Kate and family here and we’ve got several things planned but it’s a long way to come and there’s either too much wind, which is dangerous to travel in, or no wind, and then you need to motor, so I would probably say no.  Having made it down here we’ve decided to stay in this area and not return to Auckland.  We can start our trip East much better from somewhere like Napier.  As we missed a lot of North Island we’ve decided to come back to NZ in November for another Southern summer here.

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