Monthly Archives: March 2011

Nelson and the Able Tasman

Our position is

40 54.2 south

173 50.3 east

French pass

After waiting for most of the day we left the anchorage at 14.45 to go through French pass.  It turned out to be a pussycat although we could see the white water surrounding it earlier we passed through the ‘gate’ without a problem.  We sailed down the coast with just the genny out anchoring in Croisilles harbour overnight. 

Bill caught a fish

Bill caught a lovely fish and we think it was a Blue cod.  The next morning we made an early start and left the harbour just after 8.30.  We had the sails up for about an hour before the wind died so we motorsailed for half an hour then the wind came from nowhere with 30kt gusts.  At 11.30 it just stopped as if someone had switched if off so we motored the rest of the way tying up in Nelson harbour marina at 14.00.

Our position is  41 15.6 south,  173 16.8 east

Nelson, NZ 


Nelson was a nice town with some very nice shops, one of which was Spotlight, which is a bit like Hobbicraft.  I stocked up on zips, cottons, and material for my projects.  We also stocked the food cupboards up at Countdown, a very nice supermarket just like Sainsburys!  There was a really good launderette so I caught up with all the washing plus the biggest achievement was we managed to get propane Gas.  We have a couple of old gas bottles that Bill was convinced the kiwi’s wouldn’t fill but I managed to persuade the local garage to fill one of them after I managed to produce a date when the bottle was serviced.  Ironically we think it was a part number that just happened to look like a date 11/07 any way he was happy and I got my gas. 

Amusing sign

After all the housekeeping we were able to have a wander around the town, this sign was outside one of the local pubs, a good way to get more customers in!

Beach on Adele Island

Our position is

40 58.7 south

173 03.1 east

Adele Island, Able Tasman, NZ

After 3 nights in Nelson we left for the Able Tasman National park.  This is a beautiful area tucked up in the northwest corner of South island and is one of New Zealand’s most popular national parks.  It’s named after the first known European to see New Zealand.  It’s a charming combination of native bush and golden sand beaches.  Like some of the other parts of the NZ coast it can’t be reached by road so the only way to see it is by boat or walk. 

Shell sand bar off Adele island

The coastal track takes 2 or 3 days to walk staying in campsites along the way, or it’s possible by sea kayak. We stayed in a stunning anchorage behind Adele island.  It had a beautiful shell sand bar, which we walked along.  It was probably the best anchorage we found in NZ.  There were 3 other boats anchored off the beach so it was a bit crowded!  We left the next morning for torrent bay just along the coast. 

Seal playing with fish

On our passage we watched a seal playing with his fish, he wasn’t at all bothered by us slowly circling him.  After finishing one fish he would disappear for a few minutes then surface with another one, playing with it like a cat plays with a mouse. 

Torrent bay

We moved along to torrent bay, which had a nice campsite but nothing else.  We started walking along the beach but discovered it had sand flies so we quickly retreated back to the safety of the boat.  The next morning we awoke to really awful weather, low cloud and rain so we motored back to Adele island where at least there was a mobile signal to use the internet.  The following day was Sunday but the weather wasn’t much better so we took the dinghy across the bay to Marahau the nearest village to treat ourselves to a ‘coffee and a slice’ a NZ delicacy which we’ve got used to enjoying.  The New Zealanders have a very sweet tooth and most coffee shops sell wonderful slices with all sorts of toppings on them, many include chocolate! 

Seal on the rocks

On the way back we spotted seals playing around the rocks so we took the dinghy in closer to get a better look.  The next day was usual Monday morning weather, blue skies and light winds so we motored further north.  We passed a couple of bays with names like Mosquito bay and Sandfly bay, they didn’t sound very inviting, and anchored in Tonga bay.  This had the best beach in the Able Tasman; it seemed to stretch on for miles.  We walked some of it but the anchorage was very rolly and, as we were on a lee shore, we decided to sail back to Adele island. 

Beautiful Tonga beach
Bill fighting the dolphins for his fish

The Able Tasman was as far west as we were going in this latitude, the next time we will be on 173 east will be when we are on our way to Vanuatu.  We left the next morning to cross the Tasman bay.  It was a beautiful day but no wind so the engine was on.  Bill put his fishing line out to try and catch some fish.  He kept catching blue cod, which we didn’t want because they are very difficult to fillet but he caught one after another and kept putting them back.  Then the dolphins arrived and kept trying to steal them, it was very funny watching Bill telling the dolphins off and cursing every time he brought the line up to find another blue cod.  I don’t think he’s ever caught so many fish before, I think the final count was eight.  Eventually he caught a Terakihi which was delicious.

Dolphin leapingDolphins under the boat in Tasman bay


Beautiful dolphins under the boat in Tasman bay

Boat maintenance, finally leaving Picton and Queen Charlotte sound.

Re-varnishing the boat

We spent the next week doing boat jobs. Bill replaced the Eberspacer heater unit that we had had sent to Kate and we now have a working heater, think we’re going to need it soon. After Bill had revamped the steps at Kate’s the rest of the varnishing looked very tired so we revarnished the main saloon and galley. It’s like decorating at home, everything needs to be put away, curtains taken down, cushions packed away etc. As we still had Kate’s car we were able to visit chandleries, supermarkets, doctors and dentists. So I was ‘topped and tailed’ and Bill had a tooth out and another filled.

Little Camomile next to her giant neighbour in Picton marina

We drove back to Kate’s the following weekend. Originally it was to see Will perform but the earthquake had destroyed the theatre so that was cancelled. We did manage to meet Michael and Ger from Simanderal at the airport before they flew back to Australia. It was nice to catch up with their news. We had intended to go back to Picton on the Tranzcoastal train but it had been cancelled since the earthquake and we had to go on the bus instead. Bill was quite disappointed.

Finally leaving Picton

We spent another week finishing the varnishing and the clean up before finally on Monday 14th March we left Picton. As we left I lifted the fenders, we had been in Picton so long we had barnacles on the bottom of them. We didn’t go far, it took us an hour and a half to motor round to Waterfall bay. It was quite windy but peaceful. The next morning we went on a beautiful walk over the hill to Mahia on Pelorus sound, looped round the peninsular and then down to Mistletoe bay for a picnic and back to the boat.

Walking the Queen Charlotte track

We moved further up QC sound the next day back to Endeavour inlet and the buoy at Punga cove where we had been with Kate and the children. We met Gary and Jackie on Inspiration Lady from Canada there and enjoyed a nice drink and a chat. The next day we walked right to the top of the Kenepuru saddle. It was only 200m high but it felt more. The views were astounding; it felt like we were on top of the world. We walked for several hours, enjoying our picnic sitting on a seat with views across to Kenepuru sound. This part of the world must be one of the best in the world, it’s quite impossible to photograph.

A view of French Pass at sunset

On the Saturday we sailed to the head of the sound past Cape Jackson, across the top of Pelorus sound down towards French Pass. We found a buoy to hang onto just outside the approaches so that we were ready to go through with the tide the next day. We had been given all sorts of dire warnings about going through the pass at the wrong time. It’s a big tidal gate and has white water showing most of the time but there’s about half an hour every 12 hours that’s safe to transit. Hopefully I’ve got my tidal flows correct.

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