"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
July 31, 2009
Position: S46 54.31 E168 07.22 Golden Bay, Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, some days you can't do anything right. Like last VofE's pictures for example. Here we rambled on about a stick and a few lobster painting these wild tales then put in different pictures. CRS is kicking in I suppose. All wasn't lost because the substitute pictures were interesting as well. The trail scene is typical of how we hike inland and the beach scene with storm stacked bull kelp at low tide is typical as well. Yawn, we have to do this every day. The weathered wood and Mary with her yummy friends pictures will have to wait until we mail a photo CD. This posting of VofE is special with a picture showing EXACTLY how electronic charting cannot be trusted at times and an Egret cruising milestone.
I got up a little early this morning to start the generator, make coffee and check mail. Off to the stbd side the sun was just creeping up and giving a hint of color to the sky. So we grabbed the camera and waited for the magic. Most mornings in the anchorage there is the briefest pause for beauty as the sky takes on its early morning personality. The color burst usually lasts for less than 2-3 minutes. First there is a hint of pink that turns into a narrow slit of darker pink, the slit expands in height adding a bit of yellow, a few surrounding puffy clouds turn pink and more often than not it all collapses into gray. During the winter it is rare for the sun to come out before 10:00 am. Most mornings it is overcast and a bit rainy. On the few wonderful cloudless days we have full sun from 10:00am to roughly 4:30pm when light clouds start blotting the sun. The light is soft all day coming from a low angle far to the north. Full sun days are magic and we savor each one. No matter what chores we may have planned for the day, when the sun comes out, we be gone, off like a prom dress and so on! You get the picture.
Today was hiking to what we named Fern Valley. Instead of heading up the hill to the two beaches on the ocean side, we turned right crossing a small waterfall and into the bush. The last time we went we got super lost and were lucky to cross the trail on the way back. Until we found the trail we kept the roar of the surf on our right and bushwhacked roughly NE. THIS time we were prepared. We found some colored nylon strapping on the beach. Just guessing it was banding for fishermen's bait bundles. Mary cut the bands into strips for trail markers. On the way thru the woods where the trail wasn't obvious we left our cookie crumb (nylon) trail markers tied to branches. One thing we learned the first time, the trail doesn't look the same returning as going. Same this time except the trail markers helped a lot, even so we wandered a bit. There are three valleys between ridges that could be called Fern Valley. Ever since reaching Stewart Island we have been trying to get quality prehistoric fern pictures showing the floor covering crown ferns along with interspersed tree ferns. Almost without exception there is little or no sunlight. The sun at its winter highest is quite low to start with and the hills with heavy tree canopy doesn't help. Today we weren't rushed so I got to experiment with the external flash as well as the exposure setting in the camera. The goal is to produce pictures as pure as possible with little 'juicing' in post production. The external flash is automatically adjustable up to 80mm in flash distance and the flash brightness is adjustable as well. So we experimented with lighting. Lighting is everything in photography as you know. Our best combination was greatly reduced flash output with a distance focus point and the flash unit tilted up (not a direct flash). In the end we even had the remarkable fortune of brief, 5 - 20 seconds, of sunlight shining thru sporadically lighting trees and ferns. So what we are saying is we have our best Stewart Island interior pictures to date. Mary had two super keepers and I had one out of near 300 total. There were other good ones as well but these three popped. (Yea, I know, big deal. It beats working though doesn't it? You betcha.) When we return to Nelson after cruising Fiordland we'll send in the second batch of Winter Cruise pictures and a few fernmiester snaps should appear.
The past two days we heard roaring coming from the beach. Particularly today. We assume it is either large male fur seals or the brown seals/sea lions. In the Deep South, October is the month for boys to argue over the ladies. The ladies give birth soon after coming ashore and the pups are weaned in just a few weeks after gaining hundreds of pounds on fat rich milk. Then they mate and are gone again. Perhaps because we are further north and with global warming things get going earlier. If we find out we'll let you know. Later we moved so we probably won't know except Mary did see a brown seal walk up the rocks on the far side of the anchorage into the woods. At full high tide on the beach there is little beach left so perhaps the females go into the bushes to pup. Its a mystery.
We clicked on the precipitation block on Ocens weather and guess what, it came up. The weather screen is now two different screens. The first to come up is wave information and the second is wind and precipitation. The precipitation is shown in blues, yellows and orange (orange is a cloudburst). Its pretty cool watching the rain cells blow thru on 6 hour increments. Bottom line was offshore winds diminished to 25 knots or so for the day and the rain appears to miss us. With residual seas and more weather coming we will be here a bit, however, all looked well for a reclimb of Bald Cone so off we went to Billy's Cove, the Bald Cone anchorage. Wind in the Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven anchorage was 5-7 knots but we could see clouds moving fast overhead. When we turned the corner into Port Pegasus we were greeted by 33 knots of wind. Billy's Cove is just a couple miles across the bay. By the time we dropped TK the wind was down to less than 20 knots and all was well. We dropped in 30' at high tide and sent 200' of chain to the bottom (extra chain because of the exposed anchorage). We also added a second anchor snubber as a precaution. A while later we were treated to a brilliant sunset over the mountains.
Today is Bald Cone mountain day. It looks like the overcast will lighten and the breeze is down to 10-15 knots. Mary is still below snuggled in bed with her first cuppa. You know who is dying to get going but until that cup is empty we aren't moving. Of course I didn't fill it to the top so it won't be long. My momma didn't raise no fool.
Later. Today was one of those good news/bad news days, or should we say missed opportunities. The good news was the hike itself. We had sun the first part of the morning and a bright haze after with no shadowing. This time we were determined not to wander on the return so we took a roll of blue masking tape and left a blue cookie crumb trail you could follow by braille. We fast tracked with just one detour on the way to the top taking less than 2 hours. Going up and down the chute near the top was a trip in itself......again. Mary brought her camera this time and made VERY good use of it. Her photography was spectacular. We kept more of her pictures than mine and I love it. We spent a few hours on top just taking our time soaking it all in. We really didn't want to leave but didn't want to return in near dark.
Now for the missed opportunities. Weather gribs showed 25 knots of wind but more importantly considerable waves for the day. We could see bits of the east and west coast from the top and it WAS NOT 25 knots nor were there largish seas. We needed 2 reasonable days to make the run to Fiordland. The first day would be around the bottom of Stewart into Sealers Cove on Codfish Island opposite Stewart's north west coast, then on to Fiordland the next morning and a daylight arrival. As good as a day it was climbing Bald Cone it would have been better spent traveling.
We woke this morning to no wind so as soon as possible we raised anchor and beat feet for South Cape and South West Cape of Stewart Island (NZ's southernmost capes). Egret cleared South Pass in Port Pegasus a little after 9:00AM. South Cape is slightly more south than South West Cape. Seeing and passing below South Cape was one of our goals in visiting Stewart Island. We made it below both capes before 11:00AM (washing machine but calm to what it could be/usually is) and are now on our way to Oban in one long push ending after dark instead of an overnight stop before Fiordland. We'll have to wait on weather before the next push to Fiordland. Looking out the pilothouse glass we can see albatrosses and petrel's doing their acrobatic flyby's. We have heavy rain coming later this afternoon and are hoping the rain will beat the seas flat. There is 50 knots coming tomorrow noon from the NW. Local and NZ weather on VHF channels 65 and 68 respectively, are forecasting storm warnings nearby (storm is worse than gale) and gale warnings for most areas of North and South Island as this giant front (low) moves thru. We'll anchor in Golden Bay (over the hill from Oban). With nasty weather showing out another five days or so we had to give up the direct run to Fiordland. We are getting short on time and want to see as much of Fiordland as possible. We'll get much needed provisions in Oban and at the first opportunity we'll head to Fiordland. Mary and I are returning to the States in October for family and doctor visits plus the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show. There are a number of projects* to complete before leaving Nelson. *More on that in an upcoming VofE.
Later on anchor. It was a great run north to Oban. We had following seas giving the little white fiberglass lady a push as well as the flood tide. She averaged well over 7 knots, hitting a high of 10.0 knots, running at a fuel sucking 1700RPM (2.6gph....gasp). Only when Egret turned the corner nearing Oban did we hit opposing current. We were doing the slippin and sliddin current dance until well into Paterson Inlet. We almost had to hand steer and would have if we were any closer to the rocks. We anchored in the dark using radar, electronic charting (so - so), educated guesstimate (been there before) and eyeballing the black landforms. Mary dropped TK in 32' at low incoming (tide) and sent out 200' of chain. TK was set to the NW (direction of the coming blow) again using double snubbers. If need be we will re anchor in the morning. So, it was a bit of scotch and steak for dinner. The well aged scotch is left over Famous Grouse from super crewman Master Angler Steve who was with us from the Canary Islands to Ushuaia, Argentina (06). We are out of everything else so scotch and water it was and it hit the spot.
This morning was a quick trip to town for a few provisions, a short intenet search, a couple phone calls, a cuppa at the South Seas Hotel (tradition) then back to the boat for boat cleaning and awaiting the strong winds. During the walk into town we were stopped by a boating acquaintance we first met in Port Chalmers then later in Oban during our first visit. Arthur is a sail instructor and charter skipper cruising in semi retirement. When he has time off he goes cruising.....what else?. He and his wife spent nearly 3 months in Fiordland and said they hoped to meet us there. Obviously we didn't meet. While on anchor at night in the Fiordland Sounds they got hit with a tsunami from the 7.8 Richter scale earthquake of 2 weeks ago. The shock wave first nearly emptied the sound. The returning wave lifted their anchor from the bottom swinging the boat onto the rocks. "When the boat started dropping I rushed topside in time to see the foaming white wave wrapping around the point". He said they NEVER have their dinghy in the water at night but in this case because of their visiting family had two dinks rafted side by side off the port side. This and the single stern line is what saved them from ruin. The dinks acted as large fenders keeping the boat off most the rocks without damage to the rudder or running gear. It was pitch black with no references. They couldn't reset the anchor so kept the boat running in gear against the stern line. And here came the second wave setting them ashore again and again the dinks saved them. Getting off the shore, again without damage, and leaving the boat running in gear with his wife at the helm, Arthur was able to reset the anchor using the dink. Arthur also said a 70' boat in another sound was left sitting on a dry bottom until the wave returned. Fortunately they were anchored bow to the wave and it was not an issue. Arthur was beam to the waves. Big difference. Wild story, eh? (Mary just read in the paper aftershocks of up to 4.6 are still going on but diminishing. Hummmmmm, good thing it is a once in 80 year event according to Arthur. Arthur and his wife's next goal is to cruise the Chilean Channels. When we return to Nelson we invited them by for a complete tutorial.
Returning home, before long our outside cleaning chores were done, dinghy was scrubbed and the gravity feed diesel tank for the diesel heater was filled. Shortly after came the first waves of rain and wind. So far its only been puffing in the mid 20's. Wouldn't it be nice if that was all we got? We'll see.
Later the next morning. Mid 20's woulda been nice but not what happened. It was breezy thru the night with rain waves sweeping thru but nothing to excess. At 4:30 this morning the higher winds came along with heavy rain. I got up and stood anchor watch while Mary laid in bed with her eyes glued to the anemometer*. The winds were gusting to the high 30's and low 40's for a couple hours before settling down to something more reasonable. We are fairly sheltered from the strongest winds but wave wrap from the bay kept us pitching a bit. Normally if it is going to be really, really bad we lift the dink and put it on the boat deck. In this case we left it tied tight to the transom. The dink is heavy with fuel and knowing the rain would fill the V bottom and make it a lot heavier we left it in the water. Keeping it tight to the transom is the key so wind doesn't get under the bow and give it a flip job. We've seen a number of sailboat dinks and their small (2-3hp) outboards upside down in the morning after a blow. If it is an anchorage where there is a morning VHF net you'll hear these sailboat folks putting out calls for lost oars and other tings. *We have an anemometer (wind speed and direction gauge) set into the closet bulkhead along with a compass and VHF repeater mike.
We were boat bound the entire day with wind and rain blowing thru. We did get a brief pause in weather along with sun for less than 5 minutes during the afternoon. Everything looked fresh and clean sparkling in the sun then IT started again. I imagine it will be a two movie night.
Friday morning. #*^#@#%&_+, more of the same. We'll fire this VofE into space for the weekend and will hopefully get a chance to dink to the beach and walk to town.
And now for a little plug for a worthwhile group. We have been members of multi national Seven Seas Cruising Association since taking delivery of Egret. SSCA is first and foremost a sailboat organization. When we joined, long distance powerboats were begrudged members from the board viewed as a necessary evil (my words). Now more of us are out here doing the same thing as their revered sailboats, slooowly thinking has changed. Apparently the current board is now welcoming long distance powerboats with open arms realizing our growing group actually go places. In our case we took what we could, hid in the corner but still sent in a few contributing articles for the cruising bulletin. Here lies the key. The SSCA Cruising Bulletin is a super wealth of cruising information. Real information passed along by folks with no venue trying to help their peer group. Recently we received the latest stack of SSCA Bulletins with the mail. In one bulletin alone there was information priceless to us that would have difficult to come by. We still receive the stone age (like us) paper bulletins but I imagine most folks are more organized and receive their bulletins via the internet. SSCA also has years of past articles available on CD searchable by location. We fly the SSCA associate burgee on the pennant staff. This in itself leads to yachtie introductions in populated anchorages. Give SSCA a look at www.ssca.org
So there you have it. A few cruising tales and a short commercial. Ciao.
July 24, 2009
Position: S47 14.64 E167 37.15 Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven, South Arm, Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Crikey dix mis amigos, this weeks 2 VofE's have about as much direction as a styrofoam cup in 30 knots. However, it is what it is. In case you missed we wrote 2 VofE's this week. This and another a few days before. The previous VofE started life with cruising tales then became a near epic novel so we had to bring it to a close. This VofE started off by looking at a picture then bringing the picture to life. So we'll start with that and ramble from there. Perhaps you have noticed. When we're sitting the rain VofE's get long winded and vice versa.
At times we take pictures that become a story within a story. Usually we keep these for ourselves as interesting to ourselves and perhaps not others. We'll pass this one along. Picture 1 is a simple piece of weathered wood we left as a trail marker while on the Bald Cone hike. Returning along the trail the sun was low shadowing the piece of wood so we snapped a quick picture because it was a pretty shot. On a rainy morning reviewing Bald Cone pictures we came across this picture, the last one saved from that day. This piece of wood is from a manuka tree growing in size from low scrub to perhaps 40' high, very hardy, slow growing tree existing where no other trees could possibly survive. Windswept manuka trees survive by teamwork. They grow tight together with just a bit of foliage on top shaped by the wind keeping the wind from penetrating the canopy and destroying groups of trees. In several places we saw just that, where a tree or trees fell or died and the wind cut a bulldozer like swath thru the balance. From a distance menuca trees look like knee high scrub leaning away from the prevailing wind (SW). In reality, near shore they are well over your head in height with no ground cover beneath the canopy. Higher up away from shore they grow shorter as the wind gets more purchase on the canopy. How many years did it take for this tree to seed, grow to maturity, die for whatever reason, then weather to this small piece of densely grained wood? Hundreds of years certainly. Interesting.
Later in the afternoon a commercial fishing boat came by the anchorage. Mary went to the pilothouse door and gave a wave. The fishermen stopped by for a quick chat saying a southwester was coming. They reversed away then came back. The crewman held out a bag with 3 tasty crayfish still kicking. (Picture 2) In front of Egret is a heavy line stretching from shore 150' (47m) across to an islet. Midway there is a second line going off at 90 degrees to an opposite shore. Lets say the rope set up looks like a tee with a long top and short stem. They came along side the long line and used a grapnel on a line to grab the rope and bring it up to the port stern then tied it off. They repeated the chore off the bow. They are lying alongside the rope and opposite the side tie line. There are fisherman's lines all over Port Pegasus. Most are buoyed lines with a single line to shore. Commercial fishermen only make money when they are fishing. They don't have our luxury moving when we choose and taking the time to attach shorelines. Fishermen usually don't carry a dink, just a liferaft. It makes sense and we leave their shorelines alone. We also weigh at least a third more and have a lot more windage than local fishing boats so we trust our shorelines more than their lines.
Speaking of windage and boats (this goes back to a previous conversation with the last fishing boat), if we were building a boat for predominately cooler high latitude cruising and their greatly increased winds, we wouldn't have a flybridge* and certainly not the large top over Egret's flybridge. We built Egret from our experience at that time not knowing what the future held. The first 2 1/2 years cruising Egret were spent in the flybridge more often than not. This was for U.S. east coast cruising and the Bahamas. Only during our trip from Nantucket north to Nova Scotia, back to Maine and until we were back in the Chesapeake we were not in the flybridge except on a few occasions. Much of our Med cruising was in the flybridge as well. The flybridge gives an unobstructed view. In the Med for example, we would lay off shore far enough we could see the entire coast top to bottom from under the top. After leaving the Med we didn't use the flybridge for the next 2 years except on occasion. Thru the South Pacific we used it often in anchorages for entertaining. The top itself is built from heavy anodized aluminum pipe (not tubing) with a PVC fabric covering (like dinghy material). The covering is still like new. We incorporated the forward struts from the mast into the top as well as supporting our large radar and 4 solar panels. There are also 3 dock boxes on the flybridge all full of stuff but with nothing overly heavy. Our dinghys are light but nevertheless we still have a lot of high weight. If we were to build a boat today for our upcoming plans we would still have a flybridge..... barely. What would push our decision is we use the flybridge quite a lot for entertaining. The flybridge area is large and will accommodate numbers of cruisers over for sundowners, conversation and occasional pot luck dinners. (With really large groups we launch the second dinghy and use the boat deck as well. Fenders become seating). (* except this scenario) I have a perfect (for us) console/flybridge design in mind but I'm not going to stir the pot with ideas. The new design isn't going to happen because what we have works well enough, AND its paid for.
Think about this as well. (I feel somewhat guilty about suggesting a design for high latitudes) No one should build a boat specifically designed for high latitudes unless you have lotsa sea miles and it is your next challenge. High latitude cruising is something you work up to over a period of time, not start off doing. In reality, very, very few boats cruise high latitude (except the Alaska crowd and most of that is in protected water). There are many reasons not to. Remember, cruising high latitude isn't any better than lets say, between 30 degrees north latitude and 30 degrees south latitude crossing oceans and coastal cruising a bit higher. High latitude is more challenging and remote with a rugged type of beauty. That attracts a few cruisers. This said, you can find beauty everywhere. Beauty is a matter of attitude, picture 1 for example. OK, now I'm off the hook. See you in the ice.
Back to the fishermen. We invited them for dinner but just the captain came. His mate, actually his brother, went off to try to shoot a deer. Mary fixed a superb dinner with baked chicken, roast potatoes and butternut squash. I'm sure is has been a while since the fisherman had a home cooked meal (he is also single). He talked about his fishing telling us the in's and outs of lobster (crayfish) fishing as well as blue cod fishing. Both use traps, and both have slots incorporated into the traps to shed undersize lobster or cod. The lobster pots are baited with fresh fish and the cod with a mixture of fish guts and a shellfish guts. Lobster pots are down for 2-3 days and cod for 2 hours. They fish 120 lobster traps and 10 cod traps. (two different fisheries at two different times) The cod traps are leapfrogged along the coast in 140' (44m) or so of water, the lobster traps are set near rocks. They have a large lobster tank on deck. It holds X (I don't remember) number of fish trays with X number of lobster each. In calmer weather this tank is flooded but in rough water they dump the water and use a heavy spray to keep they lobster alive. The lobster will hold for a week without being fed. Lobster can only be fed fresh fish. Anything else will taint the flavor. Interesting. Cod don't care. The cod are headed and gutted then put into the same trays and iced down. While lobster fishing they fish until the trays are filled and return to the fish house to refuel, rebait and return to fishing until their quota is filled. Then that is it for the lobster season.
After the fishing lesson we got out the large DOC (Department of Conservation) Fiordland map (not chart) and he filled in his favorite anchorages and marked uncharted rocks. Also, there are a number of barges scattered around the sounds to tie up to with permission. He gave us the names and VHF channel to call the various barge owners for permission. As a small aside, he said the 'brown seals' are Hooker sea lions. I'm sure he is right. His family arrived in Stewart Island during the 1800's from the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. At the same time we learned about local fishing he was asking about our travels. So we filed his ears with stories of the Med, and other places. It was another great evening.
Andrew and Danny (the fishermen) left this morning while Mary and I were at the beach. When we returned our garbage stored on the side deck was gone. This is another great example of NZ hospitality and why we love it here so much. The beach visit this morning is another story. We are just coming off a new moon with its giant tides and attendant weather. When we got up this morning the water was GONE. The little stream we often take to the stream head was dry, not only in the stream but the sand bank well before the entrance. We drug the dink up the stream bottom as far as we could then took our dinghy painter and attached it to the second line we carry for this purpose and THEN tied that to the anchor line. In all we had well over 100' (35M+) of line laying dry up the creek tied to a limb we could access from above. Off to the beach we went. We took the drier of the two trails knowing the rocks dividing the two beaches would be dry and they were. Storm tossed bull kelp was piled high. Bull kelp attaches itself to rocks with a broad base. A ripped up piece of kelp often has bits of rock still attached to the base. The fury of winter storms must be tremendous near shore where kelp grows. A cold south wind direct from Antarctica was blowing up the bay. Both Mary and I waited for rare bits of sunlight to snap a few pictures. On the far end of the beach was a giant male fur seal lying head down away from us. We stayed well away. It would have been fun to sneak up on it v e r y q u i e t l y and poke it with a stick to see what happened. Yea, right. Returning to the dink we had to wade up to the line. We pulled up the dink and with a few paddle strokes there was enough water to drop the Yamadog and putt away.
We are pulling up the weather gribs daily trying to move to a less protected anchorage and re climb Bald Cone while waiting for better weather to round the bottom of Stewart before heading up the west coast. We could tough it out but we know from looking at the gribs rain will accompany the wind so we'll sit.
So there you have it. A couple more cruising tales from the Peacehaven anchorage. Enjoy the weekend. Ciao.
July 22, 2009
Position: S47 14.64 E167 37.15 Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven, South Arm, Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, New Zealand.
Crikey dix mis amigos, so far we have been boat bound for 2 days in the wind and rain. We are VERY happy to be anchored in Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven vs some marginal anchorage. It also pays to have an oversize anchor like TK and substantial shore lines. Today, Saturday, has been rain most of the day with the wind gusting at up to 40 knots plus. At midnight tonight it is supposed to be worse (gusting to nearly 50 knots). Just before dark a 44' single screw fishing boat pulled into the anchorage trying to get some relief. We dinghied over to say hi and ended up staying for cocktails (typical boaters). The three fellows aboard are here for a few days of recreational fishing. They had a good trip across from South Island but drove right into a real mess. The waves offshore tonight are forecast to be over 9 meters (nearly 30', and that is AVERAGE wave height) with 10.2 second spacing. Mix that with local currents and you have your worst nightmare. We added a second line ashore during a short lull in the rain this afternoon. So I think we'll sit for a bit. The movie machine has been getting a good workout. The New Paige crew brought a fresh batch of DVD's and we're working our way thru those. We learned something else from the locals. The 'penguin' slides we had staked out on the beach weren't penguin slides at all but where brown seals haul up into the bush. The local captain said they are real scary when you run into one like that. So we froze two nights for nothing. Ah, the joys of photography. The captain also said they forecast snow down to sea level. Mix that with high winds and it will be a bit chilly.
In the few minutes it took to type the above paragraph I had to change the wind gusting thru from 30 knots to over 40. Last VofE mentioned we set the anchor to the SW and took a single line ashore. SW is from where the worst winds normally come. Well, not here. There is a small valley off the port side facing N/S that had directed the SW wind directly on the port beam. So the gusts are rolling us a bit. Until it lays down we will have to stand anchor watch. We don't have to worry about the anchor dragging but if the shore lines broke for any reason we would swing into the small rock island in front and to the right of the boat (downwind). Not good. What is good is Mary is just finishing fixing dinner. Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and a veggie of some sort. AND I would rather stand anchor watch than go to work. Its not all bad.
After the second movie the wind laid down to a more reasonable high 20ish knots so off to bed we went. The next day was a mix of rain, occasional hail and even a little snow blowing thru with waves of winds. In between the sun came out and it was beautiful. During one of these sunny spells off we went to the trail leading to the beach and see what was going on and to photograph what had to have been large waves crashing on offshore rocks. The waves were crashing on the rocks as suspected. We rechecked our 'ambergris' haul and indeed all the pieces were pumice stone. That is the end of that. The beach was strewn with fresh fans of ripped out bull kelp. I wandered the beach looking for an interesting piece of driftwood I found while harvesting ambergris but couldn't let nature get in the way of riches. Apparently it left with the surf or got buried under kelp in the storm. While wandering a frightened brown seal raced out of the bushes for the beach nearly giving me a heart attack. I could see the headlines; foreign cruiser dies of heart attack watching a middle age lady brown seal freaking and streaking for the water. She stopped near the water and looked back at the red clad monster. There were 8 or 10 black oyster catchers (birds) in the background. A National Geographic photo and the camera was left under the trees to keep dry. Later after wandering the beach for a while the seal reappeared further up the beach where we were at the time. Mary had the big lens and took some great pictures. (picture 1) In any case it was a welcome break from being boat bound.
The local boat with 3 South Island guys aboard returned to the anchorage after a dismal blue cod fishing expedition. We dinghy ed over and invited them for dinner. Just before dark we picked up the local South Islanders and returned to Egret. Well, after years of boating in commercial type (functional), locally built wood boats, once aboard Egret their eyes nearly popped out of their heads at the finish work, our library bookcase, galley, engine room and so on. After tours they were super impressed and wanted to talk about the boat. Of course the boat is REALLY old news* for us and we wanted to learn more about New Zealand. So I talked boats with one boat head and Mary talked NZ with the other two. It was another good late night get together with perfect strangers and common interests. *When you first get a boat new to you it is a source of pride of ownership. In time however, you come to appreciate how the boat takes care of you, how it behaves in weather and so on. Pride of ownership retreats into the back ground. This takes a while. When it does, pride takes the form of a maturity partnership with the boat, each taking care of each other as if the boat has a soul. When you are comfortable with each other (you, your other, and the boat) there is no limit to your adventures and exploration. The only true limit is your boat's capability and your imagination.
Our neighbors left this morning in VERY marginal weather heading back to Bluff, the southernmost harbor in South Island. We pulled up weather gribs showing the 3 day wind/wave forecast while they were aboard and tomorrow would be better. However, the anchorage early this morning was deceptively calm so off they went. The wind will switch from southwesterly to westerly during the day giving them a lee for the trip back north. The problem will be crossing Forveau Strait between Stewart and South Island. Forveau is another of THOSE deals where tidal currents run wild between the two islands and its only 100' (31m) deep sprinkled with restrictive islands to accelerate the tidal current even more. Mix this with westerly winds of 35 knots predicated but the wind will surely be higher because of wind compression between mountains of the Southern Alps in Fiordland on SW South Island and the Ruggedy Range at the NW tip of Stewart Island. Its less than 20nm across the strait so hopefully they can get a window of a few hours and make the crossing in safety, but its not likely. Their course will be a little west of north. The flood tide sets to the east and ebb to the west. A little after noon today the tide will start ebbing west. This afternoons westerly winds rocketing down Forveau (roughly E/W) will turn the strait into a super mess standing up the tide. One fellow promised his wife he would be back by Tuesday (its Monday). Remember this, a SCHEDULE is the most dangerous thing on a boat. This said, the owner of the boat is a knowledgeable boater and understands local conditions. He said they were prepared to leave the boat on a mooring in Oban and take the afternoon ferry back to South Island (tomorrow morning's ferry would be better....wind WITH tide and less wind). He would return to retrieve the boat in better weather. Smart guy, no hero.
We woke the next day to thunder and occasional lightning. This is the first for both since leaving Ft Lauderdale in May, 04. The only exception was a bit of distant lightning off the coast of Brazil. This is strange after so many years at home (Ft Lauderdale) with its summer afternoon thunder showers. We made a quick trip to the ocean side beach at high tide but the surf was right to shore. We sat and watched a while. A family of 3 brown seals stopped by and wanted our flat rock (couch) to sun themselves but we were there first. They came back 3 times to see if we left. It was overcast with more rain coming so we slogged back thru the mud to the dink giving the seals our couch. Then it was back to the book. Antarctic Oasis, Under the Spell of South Georgia by Tim and Pauline Carr. This is a well written table top book with great photography. Ya know, we need to be 40 again. OK, I'll settle for 50. There is so much to see and do. At this stage of our lives we know we can't do it all so we have to pick and choose. We do have some adventure planned during the next 2-3 years with a loose schedule after that. It will cover a lot of miles and we'll see tings few cruisers get to see. However, it isn't South Georgia Island. We probably won't get there (typing these 5 words hurt). I hope someone reading this drivel will go there someday in their little white fiberglass ship and write about their adventure. We'll tag along in spirit. The same way we're tagging along with forwarded postings from the N57 attempting the NW Passage. (Currently they are in Greenland...reporting is on the nordhavn.com website. Click on the NW Passage graphic on the homepage.) Along those lines, N57 Ice Dancer II is under way again and reporting also on nordhavn.com via Nordhavn Adventures. - the same website. We met Ice Dancer II in Chile after their rounding of Cape Horn. We spent 3 days together in a quiet anchorage on the Beagle Channel. And let's not forget our NAR buddies N62 Grey Pearl, part of of the Sushi Run team currently in Adak, Aleutian Islands. Next stop is Russia if I am not mistaken. Its all pretty cool mis amigos.
Now, lets talk about weather. Again. We want to climb Bald Cone a second time but know there is weather coming. To make the climb we need reasonable weather and at least some sun. If the weather is soooo good we'll make the run to Fiordland. But we know its not. This morning (Wed) I pulled up the gribs (picture 2) to take a peek at our Bald Cone possibilities. Yikes!! This is what we have been experiencing lately and describing in text what its like here in the anchorage. These graphics from ocens.com, sent via the Iridium satellite phone, will give you a better picture of the situation and why we are cautious. (picture 2) This isn't the worst we have seen while in Stewart but the first time I thought to show a picture of the computer screen.
Here's the stats. Wednesday, July 22d, 0600 (6:00am) The black area in the upper right is the south of South Island, New Zealand. There are only wind barbs over land, no wave reporting near shore except near the southern part of Stewart Island. The cursor at the middle right is approximately just offshore Egret's anchorage in the southern part of Stewart Island. The large red arrows are wave direction. Next, notice the wind barbs. Think of wind barbs as arrows. The tip of the arrow is the direction the wind is blowing toward (in this case both wind and waves are nearly in alignment). The feathers of the arrows are wind speed. (feathers are on the back of the arrow and direction where the wind is blowing from) One full feather is 10 knots. A half feather is 5 knots. These are average sustained winds, not including gusts. Same with wave heights, average. I don't know the ratio of average wave height to larger or smaller waves but you can definitely see the RBG's (really big guys) coming standing above the average wave. RBG's usually come in sets of 3. The chart is also color coordinated. Dark blue is best, you can see just a little medium blue at the upper right (these waves are 4.2 meters (13.5') at 9.8 second duration (time between wave tops). Wind speed is 23.8 knots). This is the best weather on the chart. The weather info at the cursor position just offshore Egret's anchorage is reporting wind speed of 38.1 knots, wind direction 265 degrees true (not magnetic), wave height 7.8 meters (25'), wave period 12.2 seconds, wave direction 258T. At the leading edge of the rust colored cell wind speed is 37.0 knots, wind direction 260T, wave height 9.2m (29.5'), wave period 13.3 seconds, wave direction 252T. None of these predictions take into consideration local events such as tide or redirected wind because of topography. THIS is up to you and VERY important, particularly tide.
We get wind and wave forecasts from Ocens in 3 day increments at six hour intervals.* Weather here changes very quickly. Only in instances when a big high has settled in is the 3d day accurate. The lows moving thru change direction quickly and are moving fast. What is good about wave reports is that wave height and spacing are what is most important. Three meter waves (9.5') at 14 second spacing are comfortable, simply up and down (unless there is wind chop on top). Two meter (6'+) waves with 4 second spacing like in shallow water with lotsa wind are not comfortable. Our go - no go criteria is one second wave spacing per foot (.31m) of wave height with a likelihood of better weather. It is common here to have wind and waves from very different directions because of Southern Ocean storms. So again, wave height and spacing are king. In the trade winds, like coming from the U.S. west coast to the Marquesas in French Polynesia, the wind and waves are lined up and will stay lined up for the most part. These parts of the world (trade wind belts) are predictable (again, for the most part). The entire world cruising routes are consolidated in one very special book. Cruising Routes of the World by Jimmie Cornell. This book is a MUST for every offshore cruiser. *Well before any offshore passage we also get barometric pressure overlays as well. The reason we don't get this option locally is pressure readings take a lot of Iridium time ($) and are not as pertinent to day to day movement as would be a multi day passage.
Now lets talk about professional weather forecasting. Neither Mary nor I are great weather predictors. Most every sailor is way better because wind determines where they go and what direction. Professionals look at the big picture. An example is we plan to leave Nelson on the top of South Island this December for Australia. December is the beginning of summer and a chance of bigger highs settling in over the Tasman Sea (calmer, more predictable weather). However, it is typhoon season just to the north in Fiji and Tonga. Occasionally typhoons dip south and send monster waves as a vanguard of worse weather to come. We don't want to be part of this for sure. Professionals can buy you time by looking way out and giving you notice to take whatever precautions necessary whether it be turning around or changing your heading to a different direction to escape extreme weather. When leaving the Canary Islands on September 30th, crossing to Brazil it was full hurricane season in the Caribbean and further north. Many of these hurricanes start life off the west coast of Africa, exactly the area we had to cross. It was very reassuring to have Omni Bob (Bob Jones), oceanmarinenav.com to be there with us. Bob watched inland and near the African coast for systems to develop. Bottom line: for big pushes covering a lot of miles we feel it is prudent to have better weather capabilities than your own. This is another form of boat insurance and comfort insurance.
So there you have it. We need to fire this drivel into space before it becomes an epic novel. In the meantime we'll sit and wait for the rust colored blob to change to dark blue. Hopefully sometime prior we can give Bald Cone another go. Ciao.
July 17, 2009
Position: S47 14.64 E167 37.15 Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven, South Arm, Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, New Zealand. "This is the safest all-weather anchorage in Port Pegasus. It is the one to use for peace of mind. If you have left your run for shelter a bit late, it can be nerve shattering getting in and out at times". Mana Cruising Club guide.
Crikey dix mis amigos, it was not the least bit nerve shattering arriving Peacehaven in afternoon sun and less than 10 knots of wind. But lets back up a bit. After our friends from New Paige left we beat feet to Billy's Cove in the South Arm of Port Pegasus. The cruising guide calls for 2 lines ashore but Billy's Cove is a large anchorage exposed to the north. With no appreciable wind predicted we anchored well away from shore in 29' (9m) and dropped 175' (55m) of chain. Just over the ridge was the bare rock mountain of Bald Cone, a South Arm landmark that needed to be climbed. I swear the tabletop book of Stewart Island photography will kill us yet. The author published the book after 10 years of hiking and photographing Stewart Island. We are trying to see what we can inspired by his adventure in a couple months. It is not the same. Nevertheless the next morning off we went to give it a go. The entrance to the track is off a small tidal creek. The creek was totally dry at low tide. The bottom is solid rock. We carry a second dinghy painter (bow line) for times like this and use it quite often. So, we left the dink floating but snugged against the rock and paid out our 75 or so feet of line and tied it to a low hanging tree we could access from above when the tide came in.
The first part of the trail was well marked taking us thru the woods to the ridge behind. From the ridge on for a kilometer or so the trail was NOT defined so we swamp trotted thru swamp and bushwhacked thru scrub until we reached areas of bare rock. Mary was good enough to let me carry just camera equipment while she carried water and snack goodies. It was overcast with light peeking thru just every now and then. Occasionally we would get misty rain showers that would last a couple minutes. When hiking in areas like this with heavy scrub we wear heavy nylon hiking pants with reinforced knee and thigh patches. We also wear our heavy foul weather jackets that don't tear in the scrub. At times when working hard we get super heated and welcome the rain. When its cold and windy the foul weather jackets keep out the cold (we wear fleece under). Once higher up among the fantastic rock formations guess who went crazy taking pictures? Lets just say the scenery was stunning. Mary got tired of waiting and headed up the mountain. After a while I heard this far off voice and finally spotted her near the top. I don't like her going alone in case something happens so off we went to catch up. Well, after a while and getting closer my biggest problem was not stepping on my tongue in the steep stuff. Geesh. The area close to the top is called 'the chute' and is well named. The chute is VERY steep rock with a bit of scrub on the north side. However, some dear sole took the time to tie ropes from the top to the bottom of the chute in a series of drops to small trees. Mary was already at the top so hand over hand we went and in time we arrived.
If the other view was stunning this was stunninger (if that's a word). From the top you could see the fingers of Port Pegasus and out into the ocean. Looking to the south and west you could see a portion of South Cape and offshore islands. Mary was sitting on a high rock drinking it all in. I raced around like a kid with the camera and tripod snapping away. In photography light is everything. Reading the story of Fiordland, an early (1800's) tour boat operator called photographers "shadow chasers". Its true. The winter sun in Stewart Island is well to the north. It rises in the NE and sets in the NW. It has little arc. And of course it was NE to NW where we needed to shoot. So we did our best. Picture 1 is my favorite but we did manage to take a few that Mary and I alone will appreciate. It was a very special day.
With weather coming off we went to Disappointment Cove/Peacehaven. If you check out the google earth picture you'll see what a wonderful anchorage it is. There are NO wind blasted trees in the anchorage. Facing SW we dropped TK in 17' (5.3m) (mid tide) and sent out 125' of chain (39m). We took a single stern line ashore. The cruising guide shows two trails to beaches on the ocean side so the next morning off we went. Both beaches are crescent shaped white sand beaches backed by boulders, flax bushes and scrub trees. One beach has low rock cliffs on the south side with beautiful swirls of molten rock when it was formed. The beaches are strewn with rotting bull kelp tossed ashore during storms. We saw the ubiquitous pairs of oystercatchers and a few mutton birds (shearwaters). On one end of the beach was a large male fur seal sunning himself. During mating season these big guys get VERY aggressive but with no girls in sight he was content to let us get reasonably close and take pictures. He was so bored he even gave us a big yawn.
Not everything works to plan. The afternoon we arrived we went to the beach to hide and wait for the yellow eyed penguins mentioned in the cruising guide to come ashore before dark. There are 14 different species of penguins living in NZ (out of 18 total). The yellow eye is considered the rarest. So we sat and froze while waiting until we had just enough light to walk back thru the trees. Two nights later we returned with more clothes, tripods, external flash units, AND flashlights to get back. We positioned ourselves in a hide between two areas where it was obvious they tracked back and forth. We sat in the cold, rain, NO sun until dark. The dirt bags never showed. We slogged back along the trail in the dark quietly whining to ourselves.
And then tings got worse. We scribed lines in the sand across the 'penguin tracks' to see if they did indeed return later that night and leave in the early morning. Returning the next morning to check the scribed lines I saw IT. Yup, a baseball size piece of ambergris spit up by a sperm whale. We recently watched a movie about Stewart Island. One of the sequences was about a pioneering sheep farmer from nearby Mason Bay. During the dialog he showed a piece of ambergris his daughter found on the beach and mentioned it was worth $10 a gram. Being a capitalist those numbers stuck. I was walking to show Mary and stumbled on a smaller piece. And another. Soon we were both beach combing and finding lotsa pieces. One was the size of a pineapple. For two hours we picked up this spit up gold knowing we hit the lottery. Mary found a beached construction sack to hold the goodies. Also during the movie the farmer mentioned they melted ambergris to fill cracks in the walls of the wool shed and it had a musty smell. Back to the boat we went with two small pieces to give it the melt and smell test. I put one piece in a soup spoon and held it over the stove. It popped like air was expanding. Soooo, I put a fork over the piece and held the spoon over the flame again. This time it exploded and was gone. Scared the stuff out of me. Next we cut the second piece with a pair of wire cutters and it was the same throughout. Bottom line: Mary thinks we have a corner on pumice stone. Yup, rags to riches to rags. Picture 2. The camera lens cover is 77mm (large) to give the 'ambergris' scale.
We did have a little excitement the other night. We had just finished watching a movie and I was taking the DVD out of the player. The wing engine was running at the time charging batteries (by choice). The boat started vibrating for some reason. It felt as if the wing had jumped into gear and the folding prop was thumping away. I ran to the engine room but the wing was purring along as usual. We did an outside check but found nothing there as well. We went to bed writing the vibrations off to another boating mystery. The next morning we received several e-mails from friends saying there had been an earthquake around 125 miles north. We felt the shock waves. Recent guests, the New Paige crew, are still land touring before Paige returns to school. Their hotel room walls were swaying 6" back and forth at the top during the quake. All the guests ran outside. Geesh.
Recently we received a long e-mail from cruising friends, Milt and Judy Baker. He rambled on about how they were up in Maine docked with boating friends for years. AND how they were attached to the dock by their "big, fat yellow cord". "We're content here in the marina with the big, fat, yellow cord plugged in to keep us toasty warm overnight when the local summer temps occasionally dip down into the upper 40s". Of course he was taking a shot at my 'Marina Queen' comments. Its all good fun. However he did mention something we should pass along. Giving back to others as was given to them (my words). Every boater somewhere along the line is inspired to take up boating by someone or something. In our case it was stumbling across an early issue of Passagemaker Magazine. This lead to a subscription to PMM and subsequent subscription to Cruising World (sailboat magazine). Next was a visit to a local Trawlerfest. When it was time to leave Mary found me in the engine room of an early Nordhavn 57. I had been sitting down there for 45 minutes trying to take it all in. We were hooked. The rest is history.
Milt mentioned he and Judy along with Bruce and Joan Kessler and Jerry and Wendy Taylor are hosting a 90 minute segment at the upcoming September Trawlerfest in Solomons, Maryland. Milt and Judy traveled the U.S. east coast and Bahamas for years, first by sail, later by 42 Grand Banks and now aboard their N47. M&J also crossed the Atlantic on their own bottom spending two seasons cruising the Med. Bruce and Joan were the first American trawler circumnavigators and life long U.S. west coast and Mexico boaters. Jerry and Wendy have been life long professional delivery skippers along the U.S. east coast and further south. These folks are giving back. Their combined knowledge is priceless and a perfect starting point for anyone who wishes to take up the boating life. Mary and I attended two Solomon's Trawlerfest's during our east coast cruising. It was time well spent.
Along those same lines is a Yahoo Groups site called http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NordhavnDreamers/. This site is open to all who wish to participate, not just Nordhavn owners (another site but closed to owners only). The N Dreamers site takes a lot of someone's time. They are giving back as well.
From time to time we mention cruising friends aboard a 46' Grand Banks we first met in the Bahamas. They too are hosting a valuable site and giving back. This is their story. (we are members of both sites)
"Here's the description of the Cruisers Network Online:"
Originating in 2006 and called the "Venezuelan Cruisers Group", it started as a means for cruisers in and around Venezuela to stay in touch and share information. During the past several years as many cruisers headed to distant ports, it has expanded to include cruisers throughout the entire SW Caribbean, Pacific from Ecuador to Alaska, the ABCs, Colombia, Panama, the Med, and South Pacific. There are now approximately 320 members who regularly exchange information regarding their cruising experiences, immigration matters, safety and security issues, fuel prices, and other matters of mutual interest. Also of interest in the "Files" section are several Cruisers Information Guides to various South and Central American countries, including a new 27 page Panama Cruisers Information Guide.
It is a Yahoo Group and is free to join. As the moderator I have to approve everyone, but it's no big deal. The group is all about cruisers, and therefore we don't allow long posts and pictures, etc., since most cruisers receive the posts over Sailmail or Sat phones. But the posts come via people's regular e-mail address....There is a home page which cruisers can access cruising guides, etc...all free. Eddie recently wrote a 28 page Cruisers Information Guide to Panama, which is a great collection of information for cruisers in Panama. Milt & Judy have been members for years and enjoy getting the posts, ans occasionally posting messages themselves of interest to many cruisers.
It's easy to join the group. There are two ways to join. If someone has Internet access, they can go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Cruisers_Network_Online/ and ask to join the group.
So now lets talk about you. When the New Paige crew came to visit they brought our mail. Our first mail since February. Looking at financials we saw a shocking low tide mark and subsequent recovery. (It is Mary and my policy to go from financial mountain top to mountain top. We don't have time to worry about minor things like money. It detracts from cruising and why we haven't gotten our mail since February) Curious, we sent an e-mail recently asking for the current bottom line. We were pleasantly surprised. Nearly back to best ever. Lets think about this. Our financial person is probably no better than your financial person. If this is the case, and if you weren't involved in way out stock stuff, you are probably in the same boat so to speak. Used boat prices have dropped substantially. Deals can be made on new boats as well (don't even THINK about buying a boat from a marginal manufacture unless you are SURE they can deliver). As the market continues to recover and as demand returns prices will rise as well. This is the simplest form of supply and demand economy. Doesn't it make sense to take your barely diminished dollars today and buy a greatly reduced price boat......today? The boat will give you indirect returns for your entire boating life while money comes and goes at the whim of those above. AND you will be living The Life. Think about it. The clock is ticking.
So there you have it. A bit of Egret doings, a lot about those who give back and a little Box (soapbox). Tick, tick, tick. Ciao.
July 9, 2009
Position: S47 12.41 E167 37.01 Waterlily Bay, Port Pegasus South Arm, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, here we sit in the wind and rain. We did get out today, in the rain part of the time, and did a little dinghy exploring to the far western end of Seal Creek. The further west we went the landscape became more wind scrubbed and barren except for muttonbird bush, a low, thick near impenetrable scrub near shore only giving away as the hills rise and are more exposed to wind. Far to the south and further west are the bare granite domes of Gog and Maygog along with numerous other lower granite peaks of the Frasier Peaks. Stewart Island is interesting. In the north around Oban and Paterson Inlet are very large 5-700 year old trees (that escaped logging). As you move further south the primeval forests give way to lower trees but not yet wind scrubbed. Port Adventure is like this. Even the North Arm of Port Pegasus just a couple miles to the north things are different. It all changes here. Stewart is narrow at the southern end with full exposure from the southwesterly winds pounding the coast regularly. The windward coast mountains of the south (west side) aren't high enough to trap the rain as is the top of Stewart and particularly a few miles further north in Fiordland with the Southern Alps trapping the moisture causing perhaps 300 days of rainfall a year.
Back to exploring. We took a bit of a chance and went up the creek on a falling tide for a quick look. We found a likely place to land with what appeared to be a deer track thru the scrub, so early tomorrow morning we'll follow the tide up creek and make a dash for the lower accessible hill to the south. Hopefully we'll have at least a little sun so we can take a few pictures to pass along. After a short time on top we'll have to retreat back to the dink to ride the falling tide back out. We REALLY don't want to get stranded. We're nearly on a moon (higher and lower water with resultant tide speeds) along with 6 hour tides instead of 8 hour, we have to move fast. Another anchorage further south gives us a better shot at a hike to Gog and Maygog. The only downside is another mile or so hike each way and requires a stream fording. We'll see about that later. In the meantime we have lesser hills to climb. (In Florida this 'hill' would be a mountain. However, after seeing the NZ South Island real mountains these are high hills)
The rest of the day is a putzing day. The Dickinson diesel heater is quietly moaning away pumping out heat. So we'll read while you guys are out in the July sun getting sunburned, eating hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob having a good time. Maybe taking a bicycle ride with the kids. Perhaps even taking in a parade with the family and lotsa old guys (vets) waving from cars and smiling at the crowds. A recent e-mail from our NAR buddys on N62 Grey Pearl reminded us about the July 4th we spent together in Ostia Marina outside Rome eating hamburgers and hot dogs on the dock with a crowd of American boaters. Another great day and one for the memory banks. However, lets not forget what the 4th is all about. Most every country has their 'July 4th/Independence Day'' where those who came later need to appreciate those who gave their best or perhaps their all for future generations.
As planned the next day we rode the incoming tide up the creek to the landing spot to begin our hike. The intended trail was a fairy tale. Muttonbird scrub was a nightmare. We were on our hands and knees, stooped over in the higher bush and moved aside the chest high tangles with our forearms. It took forever to make a few hundred feet (100m), much less the distance to the nearest high hill. In a few places we did get a break and were able to simply walk. Enough whining. In time we made it to the top. We took a number of pictures at the top and a few stops along the way. We could see the ocean churning outside Port Pegasus and the calm in the interior bays. Taking pictures at the top in 30 plus knots of wind was not easy. The tripod was just a prop to hold against a rock. It wouldn't stand alone without blowing over. And it was freezing in the wind chill. And then of course we took an easier way down and suffered for it. In the end we made it back with NO water in the bay. So we pushed the dink, poled the dink with the oars and even got to run the engine tilted up for part of the trip. Twenty minutes later and the tide would have completely dropped out of the creek. Looking back it was quite and adventure and we're glad we did it. And then we celebrated with a touch of rum n coke.
We mentioned before how the scrub is shaped by the wind. No tall trees could possible live here without some protection from the wind. The hills themselves are partial bare granite and short scrub. The two mountains to the south, Gog and Maygog, are nearly bare windblasted rock. We moved back to the north arm to pick up the New Paige crew and what a difference, less than 3nm away. Its as if you drew a line across the island.......trees, no trees.
We received a surprise e-mail from the New Paige crew saying they were arriving THIS afternoon. Fortunately the wind has laid down and we were able to get out of our VERY marginal anchorage and good riddance. Between the wind and tidal current it was tough. The arranged pick up spot was the site of an old freezer plant. There is a small square that is reasonably clear and flat for the helicopter to land. In southwestern South Island and Stewart Island, helicopters are the mode of transport. We anchored off the landing site and right on time came the New Paige crew arriving as scheduled. We loaded the catamaran dinghy to the top and made two trips. As soon as the stuff was aboard we went off by dink to Belltopper Falls so they could see the falls while we had a bit of light.
The next morning Roger and I went back for picture taking. Roger has a beautiful new Canon camera he is still learning but in the end came up with some great pictures. It rained most of the night and the falls were roaring. With better morning light than our previous visits we got some ' better than before' shots as well. After breakfast we moved to our old friend, Waterlily Bay. Here was more dinghy exploring as well as a trip to the Disneyish Smugglers Cove. The large dink juuust fit thru the narrow entrance at high tide. We had but an inch or so on either side and had to be pulled thru by hand. The Kid (Paige) was thrilled. And so the day went. Tomorrow we'll move back to South Arm of Port Pegasus for some hiking. It appears we have good weather for the next few days at least. There is major weather passing north of us as well as south of us, both moving west to east, but it appears we'll be left alone by these two systems.
Today (Wed) before breakfast we went dinghy exploring around the nearby bays not far from Waterlily. We dipped a dozen giant Stewart Island scallops for dinner in our secret spot. After breakfast we moved to the west anchorage in Evening Cove, south arm of Port Pegasus. And now the New Paige crew have rounded Cape Horn themselves on the way to the anchorage. We dropped in 20' (6m) of water, sent out 125' of chain and took two lines ashore. Later we took a dinghy whirl around the bays and found another load of scallops near whaleopotomus rock we left for tomorrow's low tide. However, we did take the time for Paige to catch a nice fat blue cod (on chicken scraps), her first, after making the rounds of nearby bays. After returning to Egret both Paige and her dad took turns learning how to clean scallops. Cleaning scallops doesn't take long to learn and both did a good job . Later we had a blue cod and scallop stir fry over fried rice & veggies. Its so nice to have friends like NP visit and be able to share with someone what we are seeing and doing. They will return later for their own cruise aboard NP.
Visiting Egret on her school vacation, Boat Kid Chatter Paige (11) ran the dinghy today for her dad taking stern lines ashore. She was a spotter for gathering a few scallops. She cooked breakfast after we got back. She caught her first blue cod, AND saw sights relatively few adults, including New Zealanders, have ever seen. Tomorrow she'll take a strenuous hike to the top of a nearby high hill. Having been home schooled the past 2 1/2 years Paige is excelling in a Nelson (NZ) school. Paige is getting a REAL education that will stay her with the rest of her life. Sure beats crawling malls in her spare time, doesn't it? You get the picture.
Today (Thur) was a good day. After coffee it was a trip with the NP crew for scalloping while Mary cooked breakfast. The three of them took turns dipping a few scallops, enough for a meal. We took what we needed and left tons to grow and for others. After breakfast it was a hiking attempt to climb a nearby high hill. We followed the trail from the anchorage to near the hill but ran out of time to find a route to the top. We made a few aborted attempts to find the trail here and there but without success. We left the trail map onboard. Duuuuh. In any case, we had a good time and they got to see the rugged bush and southern foliage. We returned to Egret for a cuppa tea then off to codfish point (named by us). NP Joan and The Kid each caught two fat blue cod for another meal. Next was appetizers, a bit of white, dinner and a movie. It was a good day. Tomorrow if the weather cooperates we'll give it another go to try and find our way to the top.
Friday was a dinghy exploring day, catching blue cod day (catch and release - we have enough) and general putzing. On the boat front, the fresh water pump needs replacing. So a boat chore before the NP crew leaves tomorrow. It has been a good week and company made it even better.
So there you have it. A few more days in The Life and what cruising is all about. Ciao.
July 2, 2009
Position: S47 11.85 E167 38.11 Seal Creek, Port Pegasus South Arm, Stewart Island, New Zealand
Crikey dix mis amigos, Egret rounded Cape Horn........ again. Ho hum. Number 3. The first rounding was east to west against the prevailing westerlies. After an overnight stay nearby, the next morning Egret rounded the Horn west to east. This time we rounded Cape Horn from north east to south west and again against the usual prevailing wind, except the wind was puffing from the NE. Well, OK, there is a Cape Horn in the North Arm of Port Pegasus, not THE Cape Horn. Its not quite the same. Trust me.
Back to Cunning Cove where we left off last VofE. Since firing the last VofE into space we dinghy explored the entire bay around Egret's anchorage. There is an interesting hike to the Tin Range mountains starting nearby. The Tin Range track is a site of an early tin rush but the trek requires LOTSA daylight hours. Unfortunately we are just a couple days removed from the shortest day of the year and have but 8 daylight hours usable......barely. Aussie friends who loaned us the cruising guide have good notes logged in their guide about the trek (they did it in summer). The guide says the trek is 3 1/2 hours each way and the Aussies note was emphatic that 3 1/2 hours is for a FAST hiker. We aren't fast hikers, don't want to be fast hikers so we passed. To have the slightest hiccup anywhere along the way would mean overnighting in the bush and THAT is something we don't want to do without careful planing. Not in the winter. Not ever.
So this morning (Mon) we chugged past Cape Horn and into Waterlily Bay. Waterlily is a very small N/S bay hooked inside the western side of Port Pegasus' North Arm. It is only exposed to quadrants from the north and this time of year a somewhat unusual wind direction. Welllll, it was rolly entering the bay then it went still....for a few minutes. However, with the tide falling out of the bay and wind from the NE trying to set Egret on the starboard side rocks it was a bit exciting. We dropped TK in 19' (pulling uphill) and sent out 110' of chain (35m). I was in the flybridge holding station while Mary got the dinghy engine started. We traded spots and I raced down to the dink, threw in the windward shoreline and raced to shore. The only problem was Egret was STILL trying to snuggle next to the rocks on the stbd side and Mary was busy with that. There was a surge over the rocks making shoreline landing difficult. However, not far under water was a heavy, pre attached line fishermen use. We clipped the shoreline to that and Mary raced from the flybridge to tighten the shoreline. Geesh. We finally got that line warped tight using the sailboat winch on the cap rail and took the second line ashore at a bit more leisurely pace. Hydraulic bow and stern thrusters would really have been nice but its not to be on a small boat like Egret. Then we had a BIG breakfast with lotsa coffee.
There is a white sand beach directly behind Egret so we landed the dink there for a walk ashore. Again, it is Jurassic like and super beautiful. We both sat and listened to birds for an hour without moving. When we met again she said she was hoping a kiwi would appear. Guess who was hoping for the same? After, we dinked back to the boat to let a rain shower blow thru. Assuming this weather moves on, tomorrow we'll explore north up to Basin Creek and into Smugglers Cove. But that's another story.
We talk about dinking here and there (Catamaran Ice Breaker and the inflatable dink) quite a bit because our dinghy's are our cars. The fiberglass catamaran is our SUV and the inflatable is our Jeep. Except for wintering here and there, Egret isn't a (MQ) Marina Queen. We live on the hook. Dinghy's are our way to shore for exploring, fishing or whatever. So let's talk about dinks a bit. Many people buy a boat sized to their perceived station in life and a dinghy to match. And this is fine and natural. No problem. Except when you want to go ashore in remote places, particularly with high tides. A large, heavy dinghy with a swell console, built in seating, fuel tankage, this n that is a super liability when landing anywhere but a dock or areas with little tides where you use a bow and stern anchor then wade ashore. Those large dinghys couldn't possibly be used to do what we do. Heavy dinghys are also difficult to launch when the boat is rolling in a chop but that is another story. However there is a way to have both. Even as small as Egret is we carry two dinks on the boat deck. The 12' (3.75m) fiberglass catamaran dink just fits fore and aft on the starboard side and the inflatable sits on the port side. The catamaran dink sits in Weaver low profile chocks and the inflatable sits on a removable protective pad for the stern and a small fender for the bow (no chocks). We use 3 lines attached to the boat deck rail to secure the inflatable as well as the bow line. The catamaran dink has two ratchet straps on the bow and each transom corner holding it in place.
In the past we talked about how well the fiberglass catamaran dinghy suits us for what we do. It is stable and light enough if we get stranded by the tide Mary and I can scooch it back to deep water (not over rocks). It is very stable in rough water and being fiberglass, easily repairable. Our inflatable is a 9' 2" Lancer dinghy made here in New Zealand. It has an aluminum bottom and hypalon tubes. We have 2 motors, an 3hp and 8hp 2 Stroke Yamahas, both bought new in New Zealand. Our previous inflatable was an inexpensive PVC 9' inflatable that did a good job and was sold a bit long in the tooth but serviceable. However, it would be difficult to use here in New Zealand.
Since we have been cruising New Zealand, time and again the dink has been stranded by the tide on top of rocks covered with small barnacles or even mussels. This isn't good if you don't have an aluminum bottom. Fiberglass or soft bottom inflatable dinks would be scratched and scraped to pieces here and why nearly everyone in NZ uses an aluminum bottomed inflatable. Today for example, the dink crashed back and forth on the rocks with the surge while I was trying to secure the shoreline. Yes, it may have scraped a bit of powder coating from the bottom but the dink wasn't hurt a bit. So, what I recommend in addition to whatever largish dink you may have is a lightweight, aluminum bottomed smaller dink you can easily handle with however many people who will go ashore with you, every time (a dinghy usable by two is a great starting point). About 9 - 9 1/2' (3m) is as large as two people can easily handle. Also be careful with the outboard size. A larger engine on a small dink is a liability. We could easily use the 3hp here (be sure and carry a separate fuel jug), because it is rare we run the small dink on plane. By using the 3hp engine we save 40lbs of engine weight and up to 40lbs of fuel weight. That is a lot when you have to drag the dink quite a way on a shallow sloping beach. (Picture 1.)
Speaking of engines, just our opinion here folks (read disclaimer). In the past both our 30hp Yamaha 2 stroke and previous 8hp Yamaha 2 stroke engines have been under salt water (Bora Bora - Italy). In both cases they were running in a matter of an hour or less. No problem and they weren't hurt a bit. We know that won't happen to you, you know that won't happen to you, but just in case try that with a 4 stroke. It isn't gonna happen. So I'm going to stick my opinionated neck out a bit. We are big Yamaha 2 stroke fans. We have owned many over the years personally and were our biggest seller when in the boat building business. However, in much of the world those (2 stroke) days are gone, with one exception. Fortunately in NZ we were able to buy what we wanted and why we bought a second outboard for the little dink. If we were living in the States/Canada/Europe and had to buy an outboard today we would buy an Evinrude 2 stroke (whatever they call them these days). Just like our cherished old technology Yamahas, these engines (50hp or less dinghy engines) can survive a dunking and can be gotten back in service by YOU.*
*Remove the engine from the dink and hang it on a boat deck rail. Rinse it from top to bottom, cowl off, with fresh water. Remove the spark plugs and the carburetor. Pull the starter cord until there is no sea water coming out the plug holes. Take the carburetor apart and clean it thoroughly (simple, just 1 moving part - float needle & float). Stick a fresh water hose (low pressure) down the opening in the engine covered by the carburetor and flush that thoroughly (water will run out the propeller hub). Do the same with the spark plug holes (flush the pistons and rings). Again, pull the starter cord and pump out the fresh water. Remove and clean the under cowl factory fuel filter. Re install the carburetor and spark plugs. Pump the carb full of clean fuel. The engine should start. If not, remove the plugs, pump any remaining water out, replace the plugs (cleaned of course) and start the engine. It isn't important to have cooling water running to the engine for the initial start. Just 'pop' the engine (let it run for 5 seconds) and shut it off. Reattach the engine on the dink and run it for at least an hour (tied alongside at fast idle in gear is ok). Run it the next day as well. Also, its a good idea to have a product in spares sold by most engine manufacturers for cleaning carbon from under piston rings, the combustion chamber and the fuel system. Yamaha calls theirs Ring Free. I know Mercury has one as well and probably the rest. Add this to the gas (shock treatment) as a preventative so the rings won't stick. After running a tank with Ring Free thru the engine, change the plugs. It works on 4 strokes as well but after the tank burn you must change the oil as well as the plugs.
Back to the aluminum bottomed dinks themselves. Here in NZ the big seller is Aqua Pro. We used to own one (14') and the metal work was good. The tubes were replaced in hypalon when the original PVC material failed prematurely (we bought it used from a friend with the new tubes installed). These days however, they are made in China, not NZ. Nevertheless, in NZ we tried to special order an Aqua Pro with hypalon tubes (they come with PVC - not what we wanted) but delivery didn't fit our time schedule so we bought the Lancer. There are Aqua Pro dealers in the States. Another popular brand we see around are AB Inflatables, made in Venezuela. N55 New Paige has a large AB Inflatable (14' - 40hp Evinrude 2 stroke) and it is light for a large dink. New Paige also has a smaller inflatable they use most often. I'm sure there are a number of aluminum bottom dinghy manufacturers we don't know so an internet search will give you more options. Long term (our opinion) hypalon material is the way to go. It is more sun resistant and chafe resistant than pvc.
After the dinghy novel we're back to cruising. Today, Tuesday, was clear with no wind, no clouds and was cool. A perfect day for dinghy exploring. So we did. First we were off up Basin Creek until the falling tide drove us out. Next it was off to a super cool place, Smugglers Cove. The cove entrance is thru a very narrow channel (3m - 9+') of 20 meters or so (65') between high rocks and foliage over that as a bridge. Inside it opens to a small white sand circular beach surrounded by high sided green moss and fern lined rocks except at the very end where there is a high, steep slope covered with ferns and other greenery. There was NO sign of anyone else ever having been here. Later we found some initials carved in the rock but glazed over with green moss. What a special place (as any locals reading this know). Mary and I both wandered taking picture after picture however in the low light we didn't do that well. We have but a few keepers. So we'll head back tomorrow with a tripod* and try our luck again. *to eliminate camera shake with the very slow shutter speeds. After, we followed the shoreline lit by the sun and marveled at the sights. We found a special cove and dipped a few giant Stewart Island scallops for lunch (you'll have to wait for those pictures). The sea has carved fantastic sculptures in the rocks above the waterline. One in particular is almost surreal. It appears to be a hooded, and perhaps winged, ghoul holding a shell type carving. In another setting there is a parrot clear as a bell carved in the rock as well as its shadow. Mary found both and took super pictures. (its just gotten dark and the kiwi's are calling each other) We were gone most of the sunlit day. Lunch had to wait. We couldn't give up the visual presents we were given every few minutes. So it was a good day.......again.
Its the next day and we were off again. However, first thing in the morning we received an e-mail from cruising buddys exchanging fine whines about what is broken now. Lets see, they have a few boat units of topside paint coming for a respray, a watermaker membrane, and some minor tings. We in turn have discovered a pin hole leak in our hot water heater. Yup, and we're pretty remote. To disconnect the plumbing, remove the hot water heater, take the shell off along with the insulation to see what inner part has a leak is more than I want to do unless absolutely necessary. The water heater sits on a sub floor under the master berth. To make a long story short we glued strips of wood as a levy diverting the water to a hole we drilled in the sub floor allowing the water to run eventually into the bilge. Yes, we even swabbed the hole with varnish so it wouldn't suck up water. All day while we were gone we ran the Blue Blower (a 115V squirrel cage blower) to keep things dry while the varnish and glue dried. We'll see. (www.lewismarine.com, Figure number 399, # BB3000 Blue Blower) We'll just add a hot water heater to the 'when we're back in Nelson list'.
Today was a repeat of yesterday exploring by dink. We revisited Smugglers Cove for more picture taking opportunities and putzed here and there. We mentioned before, directly behind Egret is a white sand beach. Just off the port side is a smaller red sand beach we visited this afternoon at low tide. Beautiful as ever and it included a small waterfall. The commercial fishermen have a long pvc hose running from the waterfall to where they anchor. The water hose is attached to a stern line buoyed by a small float. So they have fresh running water. Not bad. Being a fisherman we always ride the shoreline looking for fish in the deep water edges and around the kelp. The bottom is covered with blue cod. You could literally pick the one out you wanted for lunch or dinner and catch it. They bite like they are starving. No finesse with these guys. If it looks like food or smells like food they snap and ask questions later. We'll wait for The Kid (Paige) to get here and take her fishing. She'll love it.
Today, Thursday we moved to Seal Creek. For the first time we didn't agree with the cruising club guide. It was windy gusting over 20 knots when we entered the creek with the incoming tide giving us an unwelcome boost. We timidly wandered around at near high tide but found nothing but shallow water, much shallower than indicated. We did find a hole so we dropped in 16' and sent out 100' (31m) of chain. We have a single stern line ashore as well as a second line off the port bow. (Removing the original second stern line moving it forward of the bow required some real gymnastics. Three hands would have been nice) The wind is being turned NE from just north of east by the surrounding hills so we are dancing. So far the wind hasn't reached 30 knots but we are in for a windy weekend with 40 knots predicted (steady - not including gusts) so I doubt we'll get much time off the boat. Tomorrow morning we may take a third line across the bay on the stbd side as a precaution. We have little room for error. In looking over the nearby anchorages none have good protection from due east where the weather will come except one anchorage and basically you can't enter in lotsa wind. So we learned a lesson. With the calms of the past days and the good protection in the north arm anchorages we didn't take the precaution to check the weather. Had we have done so we wouldn't be here. The last anchorage in Waterlily is beautiful with good dinghy exploring but no hiking. So we moved. Duuuh. (Mary just checked the barometer. Its dropping like a rock.) Great.
Now to mis amigos. Hopefully a few of you took our advise, picked up the phone and did the deal. These Smart Folks will probably spend the long weekend pouring over their old issues of Passagemaker, Yachting, Soundings, etc, re reading Voyaging Under Power and dreaming of Your Time soon to come. Some others of you may already be boating so enjoy. And for the balance, you'll just have to keep dreaming. Enjoy the weekend. Ciao.
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.