January 24th, 2016, pt. 2
Nelson Marina, South Island
After two days at sea we decided to tuck into New Plymouth, one of the very few harbors along the western coast, to check it out and possibly spend the night. We surfed with a stiff NW wind behind us into the wide open harbour only to discover that the only anchorage area was totally exposed to the incoming sea. After a futile attempt to anchor, we raised it back onboard and said good bye to New Plymouth. Now I could understand why it was never mentioned in our cruising book as a possible anchorage!
We had a nice overnight sail to D'Urville Island at the top of the South Island and the western edge of the Marlborough Sounds. It is a safe haven from the wild winds of the Tasman Sea that blow into the Cook Strait. D'Urville's towering green hills and many deep bays to snuggle into are inviting but the deep bottoms require releasing most of our anchor chain.
The physical beauty, solitude and safety of this island kept us there for four days ' poking into different anchorages, catching mussels for an evening meal and daring ourselves into the clear chilly water for an afternoon swim.
With light winds behind us, we entered Nelson's Marina and tucked into the same slip as last February when we arrived in New Zealand. Nelson is a special place for us because of the wonderful weather, the natural beauty around us and the friends that we have made over the years.Our week in Nelson was filled with boat projects and off shore social activities. Robyn and Cary Wernick, past owners of Wanderer IV, have moved to a beautiful farm about 25 minutes outside of Nelson. They have traded life on board for a different challenge ' raising and riding show horses and they are very satisfied with their life on land.
Katie and Maurice Cloughley, past owners of Nanook of the North, invited us for lunch at 'Winter Quarters', their lovely Nelson bungalow where we met Tom and Vicky Jackson from Sunstone, who will be honored this year by the Cruising Club of America with their Blue Water Cruising Medal.
The Jacksons have sailed their 38 foot varnished wooden boat for more than 32 years and have covered more than 200,000 miles and are still going strong. They are intrepid cruisers and racers in the sailing world. Needless to say, there were many stories shared that afternoon between us salty seamen.
February 14th, 2016
Ecru Bay, Tory Channel Marlborough Sounds
We left Nelson on a calm sunny morning and motored most of our way up the coast to French Pass, a narrow cut into the Sounds best passed through at high tide slack waster as the current is very strong. We timed it well but did not anticipate that we would have to share it with a few kayakers who, like us, were struggling through the strong eddies.
We moved on to Homestead Bay, a picturesque spot and anchored in 21 meters (deep) of clear cold water. There were a few other boats there, mostly on moorings that are supplied by local boating clubs but Onora besides not flying the burgee of the proper cruising club, is too heavy to tie to an untested mooring, so we drop a lot of chain down with our hefty anchor and pray it will hold.
This was one of the few anchorages that we also tied lines to the shore to keep us from swinging too much and for extra protection should the winds pick up during the night.
Jim devised a chart that we use to rate each of our anchorages in the Marlborough Sounds, starting with D'Urville Island. The categories are: Holding, Protection, Beauty and Intangibles and the scores are from 1(worst) to 5(best) with comments allowed under Intangibles.
Every place we have been to so far and this is our fifth, has rated 3.5 or higher and the reason is obvious. This is a gorgeous place to explore with its high green hills around you and its protected bays to tuck into before the winds pick up. There are well maintained hiking trails on shore, refreshing water to swim in after your hike and always, the melodies of New Zealand's birds.
Two weeks and twelve anchorages have slipped by. Today we are settled at the mouth of the Tory Channel which is the shipping channel to Wellington. We are heading to the Capital City and need to prepare the boat for life in the marina. The dinghy gets covered and its outboard gets stowed in the forepeak, along with the spools that hold our three hundred foot shore lines. Fenders are secured and all items inside the cabin are secured for the inevitable rocky crossing of the Cook Strait. Our weather window is good for an early departure but it is hard to leave this spectacular cruising area. 'We'll come back again', we say and turn to face the North Island and the next adventure that awaits us.