Capt. Jean (left) steering the Quest out of the beautiful sheltered
waters of the Marlborough Sounds on the northern aspect of the South
Island. There's really no safe harbor for yachts on the west coast of
the Southern Island. It's much like our Oregon coast! The few harbors
have big bars across them, making entrance and exit problematic. So,
once we left Picton we were pretty much committed to going to Milford
Sound - the northernmost fiord in southwest New Zealand.
After building the Quest in Christchurch she was
transported by truck to Picton in the Marlborough Sounds on the northern
aspect of the southern island of New Zealand. The Marlborough Sounds are
a marvelous cruising area.
The shakedown trip for the Quest was south
along the western coast of the south island to nearly 47 degrees south
latitude. Please believe everything that is said about the roaring
forties! Our first stop was Milford Sound, the northernmost of the
fiords that exist in the south western aspect of the southern island.
These fiords have been created over the eons by the force of the
southern ocean slamming into New Zealand as the storms move around the
Antarctic from west to east. It's a remote and wild country - well worth
came into Milford Sound in the middle of the night (right) and were able
to find these mooring buoys. In the morning we gazed at these incredible
glaciers. We had scoped out Milford Sound on a previous caravan (that's
what the Kiwis call motor home) trip to the area. The captain of the
tour boat had even given us permission to use one of their moorings. By
the time we found our way to this cove in the dark of night (without our
radar working) we were grateful. In the morning we thought we were in
Yosemite. This area is like Yosemite on water - very very steep walls of
thousands of feet high and deep deep water also thousands of feet deep.
you see this triple deck tour boat? (left) This gives you an idea of the
scale of Milford Sound (in Southern New Zealand)! We were in awe sailing
around these sounds (that's what the Kiwis call fiords). Oh, the word
"Kiwi" refers to the New Zealand people as well as a rare flightless
bird found in New Zealand.
these sounds are VERY deep cruisers have put out mooring lines. We
put out a bow anchor and use these lines for a stern tie. Once you get
this trick down it works great. The biggest problem with this location
was the "noseeums" - tiny little gnats that crawl into the smallest space
possible. Our strategy? Close up the boat and get out the vacuum cleaner
to remove all the ones that came in while anchoring. Oh, did I tell you
that these particular bugs are sap suckers. That is, they bore through
tree bark to find their dinner. So, succulent tender human flesh is easy
pickin's and creates not so nice painful scratchy welts on human flesh.
But did I mention how fabulous it was to be here in this rain forest of
unique New Zealand flora? And, no problem having to share an anchorage
with another cruiser (hmm...I wonder why!).
anchored in Bradford Sound, Southern New Zealand (45 degrees south
latitude). In this quiet anchorage we could NOT believe that storm
conditions raged outside (55+ knot winds!). This shakedown cruise was
definitely a baptism by fire. Having NO bluewater experience prior to
meeting Scott, I was looking forward to gaining some heavy weather
experience on this trip. Oh My Gosh!!! Be careful what you ask for!!
There are two major things that got us through these storms: a good boat
and an experienced captain. FYI: Many people forget the definition of a
gale is 34 to 47 knots of wind, a storm is 48 to 63 knots (>63 knots = a
catches a grouper in Gaer Arm of Bradshaw Sound (right). (2/19/2002).
What a treat!! This is the river adjacent to our anchorage - perfect for
fly fishing I'm told. We did NOT encounter the "noseeums" on this river
excursion. I don't know why we weren't bothered by bugs, but we sure
enjoyed it here.
took the dinghy up the river (left) through this unique flora of
Southern New Zealand (Gaer Arm - 2/19/02). This is the river
adjacent to our anchorage - perfect for fly fishing I'm told. We did NOT
encounter the "noseeums" on this river excursion. I don't know why we
weren't bothered by bugs, but we sure enjoyed it here.
Foster (left) (editor of the Fiordland cruising guide) is shown on his
boat "Reliance." It was quite a trill to meet this icon of New
Zealand cruisers. Mr. Foster has not only sailed these areas
extensively, but is part of the cruising group who set up many of the
mooring lines in the area. Though "Reliance" is now sold Mr. Foster is
known for single handling her throughout fiordland. Check out the
Stewart Island guide which he wrote in conjunction with a Canadian,
in Breaksea Sound, looking for an anchorage (right). These steep
waterfalls create an ideal fresh water source for cruisers. We felt like
we were on another planet - or at least on the other side of the world
(Hmm...). This particular day we decided to try out our Irridium phone.
I had little hope of it actually working in these steep fiords. So, I
decided to call my sister to wish her a Happy Birthday, and guess what?
It actually worked! I think I was as surprised as she was when we
majesty and isolation of this area is readily apparent (left).
Captain Cook explored these very waters, little has changed. You
actually feel like you're a time traveler when you're cruising through
these pristine waters with its unrecognizable vegetation.
cruising in remote places you're eager to meet other yachts. Because
this was our first cruise on Quest and because we were new to the area
we were especially anxious to meet local people. In fact, they did tell
us many useful things that have helped us a great deal. Peter and his
wife, Iris, own, operate and lead excursions on their boat, "Talisker."
They are based in Stewart Island and take people throughout these
southern areas. A great way to see the area without bringing your own
Islands registers at ~47 degrees south latitude. Weather is constantly
changing. What a unique place! We actually never got a storm break to
take the boat to Stewart Island. I think the best way to go is the way
we went - by ferry. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to visit in 2005/6.
The plan would be to stay at a B&B and take a locally owned and operated
tour boat (the s/v Talisker).
noticed that people living in high latitudes are very devoted to their
gardens. This is Iris's garden (right) on Stewart Island. We saw the
same interest in flower gardens when we visited Alaska and British
Columbia. I really think it has to do with the many grey days people
experience in these areas. What you also see in this photo (better than
others I have) is the unique natural flora that is native to New
is Patterson Inlet on Stewart Island (left). The original explorers
anchored here. Kiwis still can be found on the beaches of Stewart
Island, N.Z. Patterson Inlet and Pegasus Inlet are the two cruising
areas on Stewart Island.
the voice of Bluff Fisherman's radio, "followed" us around the southern
island. Mari and her husband were immensely helpful while we were in
Bluff (right). Along with helping us fix a few things on the boat, they
helped us find transportation to take care of business in a neighboring
town and helped us find internet access to stay in touch with friends
and family. There are no more friendly and helpful people than the
people in New Zealand. Here Mari and her husband give us tips on exiting
Bluff Harbor (when the wind dies!).
waited in Bluff about a week fixing the radio and autopilot while
waiting for storm force winds (60knots+) The hospitality of the people
in Bluff was unparalleled. We needed to go to a nearby town for
business. A friend of an acquaintance loaned us his car. His only
admonition was this: "When you park the car, be sure to park it facing
the wind. If you don't, the wind could blow the doors right off the
car!" Needless to say, we were very careful and very grateful. If you
notice we're docked in the commercial harbor. Other visiting yachts were
nowhere to be seen.
Mari (the voice of Bluff Fisherman's Radio) and Jean standing on the
Quest in Bluff Harbor. Mari followed us around the South Island by
reports from other boats. Mari and her husband helped us plan our
repairs and devise an exit strategy. They came to the boat knocked on
the cabin top and told us it was time to leave - without delay!
Bluff was the most southern stop for the Quest. Bluff is known as a
manufacturer of IAMS dog & cat food, a large aluminum smelter and a
stepping off point for Antarctica! We had crew going down the west
coast, but Scott & I sailed up the east coast and through Cook Strait
(which separates the North and South Islands) by ourselves (and the
grace of God!). When we left Bluff we were told that we had a four hour
weather window in which to get out of the harbor and around the islands
in Foveaux Strait. It took us two hours just to get the lines off the
dock and safely stowed. During that four hour window the winds fell to
35 knots and we were able to get the Quest out through large rollers and
into the main shipping channel.
Bill joined us in southwest New
Zealand and again on our trip to Tahiti.
back in Picton (right) - more work on the boat. Getting a boat ready for
a transoceanic trip is not for the fainthearted. We've never known
anyone who hopped on a brand new boat and took off on a bluewater
cruise. There's just too many details involved in making a boat
self-sufficient and seaworthy. And besides that, we wanted a comfortable
boat that was (and is) our home!
our shakedown cruise around the South Island, and finishing original
commissioning we leave the Marlborough Sounds to travel north to
Auckland. This was the weather when Scott & I left Tory Channel (left).
We were hopeful that we'd have a smooth sail up the east coast to meet
our Bill in Auckland for the leg to Tahiti - especially since it was
another trip with just the two of us.
tough trip, (right) this time around the East Cape of the North Island.
They say we don't get what we deserve in life! In this case, I thought I
deserved a nice calm trip, but I forgot that we're still in the fortieth
latitude. And remember I had been seeking rough weather experience! It's
hard to tell by photos, but these waves and winds were constant for
several days. Rereading the log for those days shows winds in the 40's
and wave height 15 - 20 feet. I have to say, I'm ready for the tropics!
Marina is located under the bridge and up the river from the main Harbor
of Auckland. Navigating up this river at 3:30am at low tide after 5 days
of battling around the infamous East Cape landed the Quest & crew sleeping in
the mud for the rest of the night.
ready for our big trip to Tahiti we enjoy the view of downtown Auckland
from West Park Marina. We look forward to returning to New Zealand.
Especially because with all the time and effort it took to get the Quest
seaworthy and ready for her trip home left us insufficient time to enjoy
the many unique cruising areas in this remarkable county. What I have
learned is that there's never enough time to cruise any wonderful area.