We made it to South Island
12th January 2011
41º 17.2 south
174º 00.5 east
We’re moored at Picton marina overlooking the beautiful Queen Charlotte sound
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We sailed on down into Picton on the Wednesday morning.
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.