Commitment and round the bottom

I had no signal last week so apologies for not getting anything out…

What a couple of weeks I have had: I am now on Stewart Island well and truly in the Roaring Forties.

The run south on the west coast of NZ is truly committing: all the guide books say it is too dangerous to attempt to go over the bars at Westport and Greymouth and other than that there are no other places where it is possible to hide from bad weather. That means fully committing to a 500 nm passage. My weather window held, but I burned a lot of fuel due to the relatively light head winds. Because it was settled I pulled into Westport and crossed the bar through 6ft swell with a cross current of 4 knots without much difficulty. I stayed only long enough to fill up with fuel. Another two days down the coast I got headed by 30 kn winds and needed to hide. Just when I needed it, Cape Jackson appeared and I spent a rough night anchored in the lee of a small headland.

POOH429746 hours later I was sailing down Milford Sound with 30 knots of wind piled up behind me. The weather gods were kind and I had SPECTACULAR views.

P1020047Ivor and Jess joined me there for a quick sail down to Dusky Sound. The fact that we couldn’t get back to the boat because of very strong winds and had to take a room at the a local lodge really brought it home to me what a hostile place this is when things go wrong. Sirens’ Song coped without us for the night and we high tailed it out of there in light winds the next morning.

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A bumpy but windless passage for about 20 hours brought us to Dusky Sound. This is without doubt the most beautiful place I have ever sailed with tonnes of fish, beautiful valleys, fantastic mountains and hundreds of islets in this 40km deep system I really want to come back and sea kayak here.

I got my weather window too soon and left Ivor and Jess to take the 5 day walk out.

P1020177The weather wasn’t really as promised, but I got past Cape Providence and round the corner despite the 4m confused sea (described as ‘Very Rough’ in the forecast) and 25 knot head wind (almost as good as it gets down here I imagine). I arrived on Stewart Island about 36 hours later happy and relieved, if a little tired.

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