We have enjoyed a further 5 unplanned days in Queen Charlotte while waiting for a good weather window to commence the homeward sail.
On Sunday we battened down hatches and almost reached Cook Strait when the rougher than expected seas caused us to turn back. Rechecking the weather forecast, just checked 2 hours earlier, we found it had substantially changed with gale warnings.
The last few days we have visited parts of the Sounds not visited earlier, caught fish and walked to yet another waterfall. Today Annie and Tommo walked a 4 hour section of the track to Punga Cove where John met them with Alibi. A compulsory stop at the seaside cafe for refreshments was had prior to moving to a beautiful anchorage behind Pickersgill Island.
This is our last night in the Sounds and we head out into Cook Strait early tomorrow, Friday. If the forecast is to be believed then we will sail on until around Tauranga unless a change in weather needs us to rethink our plan.
Yesterday we went on a jaunt around a few Marlborough vineyards with a local lady called Helen. She owns a small tour company called Na Clachan which specialises in sharing her love and knowledge of the local wine business that Marlborough is famous for.
The Wolverhampton connection? Well, Helen moved there from Scotland with her family when she was about 8 years old, and moved to NZ about 10 years ago. Another coincidence…she worked as a receptionist in the GP practice in Wolverhampton that Sally, Tommo’s wife, worked in….but before Sally’s time! A very small world!
Our day started with lunch at Allan Scott’s followed by a visit to Framingham, Nautilus, Huia – an organic vineyard and Lawson’s Dry Hills.
Thursday afternoon the weather was benign. Wind non existent and the sea was dead flat! Charlie and Tommo were in charge of Alibi and took her from Resolution Bay to Punga Cove in Endeavour Inlet. Cap’n John and Annie kayaked. The first 5 miles were an easy paddle. Friendly seals on rocky headlands a few feet away merely raised their heads to follow the progress of the kayak. Alibi sailed past on the kayak’s port just after the kayak entered the entrance to Endeavour inlet.
Shortly after Alibi passed the kayak the sky clouded over and Annie made a comment on the ‘grey metal’ appearance of both sky and sea. Within 5 minutes the wind increased to 25 knots, blowing straight at the kayak. There was a mere 1.5 miles to paddle to join Alibi. As the kayak rounded a headland the battle began. A short steep sea made progress difficult with waves swamping the kayak and soaking the paddlers with every wave. After 45 minutes of meagre progress we were getting cold and tired from the wind chill factor and wondered if we would reach land. Narrowly avoiding a capsize. This was no ocean going kayak but a sit upon ‘fair weather’ kayak! Where were Tommo and Charlie? Had they forsaken us for the local bar or were they unaware of our predicament?
Whilst contemplating options Cap’n John was pleased to see a runabout heading our way. We hailed them and they kindly took us aboard and towed the kayak. Once aboard, even with their 60 horse power outboard they were making slow progress through wind and waves. After 10 minutes Charlie appeared in Alibi’s tender looking for us. He had a moment of concern even he saw a yellow kayak in tow without us aboard.
Eventually we made it without further alarm to the safe haven of Punga Cove and Alibi on a mooring. After hot showers we adjourned to aforementioned bar for a jug of Pimms, finishing the evening with a memorable dinner at the Punga Cove restaurant.
Monday evening Charlie and Anne took the dinghy off to a rocky outcrop at the entrance to Waihinau Bay to get dinner. A great spot for blue cod! Dinner was pan fried blue cod, enjoyed by all.
On Tuesday we left Waihinau Bay in the north of Pelorus Sound for Queen Charlotte Sound. Charlie helmed Alibi through Allen Strait at slack water. Williwaws made this trip a fun ride, even at slack water. Passing Annie Bay on our port we had an exciting sail into Cook Strait with wind of 20 knots at our back and averaged 10 knots.
A mooring was picked up in Ship’s Cove, the beginning of the Queen Charlotte great walk. John, Charlie and Tommo went exploring ashore and found their way to a pretty waterfall surrounded by native bush including towering ponga.
This morning Tommo and Charlie walked from Ship’s Cove to Resolution Bay, while Cap’n John brought Alibi round and Anne kayaked along the coast, visiting all the little coves on the way.
Left Hallam Cove for Stafford Bay and had a brilliant and exciting sail in flat water with the wind up to 25 knots. Reached 11 knots….a real ride.
John and Annie went off in the dinghy to try, yet again, to catch blue cod! Success! Caught 2 on Saturday evening and another yesterday. Lunch was blue cod…. panfried! Worth the wait!
Picked up a mooring last night in Portage, at the head of Kenepuru Sound, a spot John and Annie have been to in the past when walking the Queen Charlotte track a few years ago. JT shouted the crew a fabulous dinner at the restaurant overlooking the bay, which was eaten watching the sun set.
Paul leaves Alibi today and Charlie joins the crew for the next stage of the journey through the Sounds.
On Thursday we took advantage of a break in the stormy weather to motor to World’s End, a beautiful spot surrounded by native bush. The wind caused the sea to have williwaws and waterspouts all around us and the boat to lift off the sea! Glad to be on a 4 ton mooring! Freshly caught kingfish for dinner.
Moved to Hallam’s Cove on Friday. Another beautiful Pelorus anchorage. Still no blue cod! Had to settle for kahawai and kingfish instead!
Paul joined the boat today… flying down for a time of fun in the sun, having heard of the fab weather we have enjoyed on the trip so far. Mmm. Well it is raining and we have discovered a few leaks! Not sure who is sleeping where. A couple of bunks are relatively damp!
We have hunkered down for a couple of days while the forecast foul weather passes thru.
Tommo went exploring earlier today when it was relatively dry planning to check out the waterfall walk but turned back when the track was under water!
We enjoyed mussels for dinner, Havelock being the mussel capital of New Zealand.