Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula
Diana has put in some epic kayak explorations already, along the rocks in Flea Bay on Banks peninsula where the cute little Blue Penguins perch under the rocks and baby Fur Seals flop about in confused excitement.
After a day hiding from the southwest wind and rain in Takamatua Bay, we spent a sunny day in Akaroa walking up a hill lined with small wooden houses to the “Giants House,” where a purple haired mosaicist and sculptor (don’t they all have purple hair?), Josie Martin, spent a lifetime creating a magical inspired garden. The expressiveness and joy of her work was dazzling, full of color and peopleness.
We’re still adjusting to the sea again. Remembering little things about Allora that we forgot. Relearning things we may have come to take for granted. The first leg of our first passage in two years, the winds were light but steady and graciously allowed us to sail to windward with out tacking. The shelter of the shore, never more that twenty miles away, kept the seas mild. It was chilly, but our foulies are pretty bomber and it was a lovely day.
The wind died to nothing under a full moon, after some mechanical glitches right at dusk. At dawn the wind returned for a nice broad reach and then wing and wing downwind all the way to the end of the south island passing “the Nuggets” to enter Foveaux Strait.
We motored through the night, anticipating 15 to 30 knots on the beam by sunrise, but that never materialized. The famously rough Strait was calm – though with strong, swirling currents that confused our brief attempts to sail. The wind came up like a long slow meditative breath and then relaxed to glassy seas as the sun rose spectacularly and we approached Rakiura/Stewart Island.
We’re learning that anchoring in mud and weeds isn’t the same as sand. Diana used to say we should package the fine, fine powdery pink stuff that came up with the anchor in the Gambiers, and sell it to spas. I haven’t heard that comment about the pungent muds of Rakiura (Stewart Island). Maybe a different brand (“Glory Bay Green Lipped New Zealand Muscle” brand) for the truly hardcore mud bather. It also hasn’t been holding us quite the same way. Not sure to do with the full anchor of weeds that came up the first time our anchor did a little dragging in 30 kts wind.
Becoming more familiar with these mid latitude winds is going to take a while, too. The basic idea is becoming apparent — fronts every few days followed by strong SW blows, and then they spin around and do it again. Locals have been complaining about a dearth of rain with these fronts, the filmy ferns in the understory are feeling it, rolling up shop and hoping for a change. It’s possible that La Nina is to blame. That doesn’t mean summer is warm here on the edge of the Southern Ocean, even when the sun shines.
Here in Paterson Inlet, after the wind blows itself into a calm, it has been glassy as a lake sometimes. Ninety-Eight percent of Rakirua is conservation land, with trails and huts along some of the bays and coves, and otherwise, lush wilderness. The bush grows slow but lush, and the winds carve a limit to the canopy.
Blue Cod, with their delicious white meat seem to be ridiculously easy to catch. A little jigging provided us, after quite a few small fish, with a keeper for fish tacos. Reminded me of the one taco, two taco, three taco sea bass of the Sea of Cortez.
We’re re-learning, too, that it is not, and never has been, all fun and games. The carburetor on the outboard has used up a few hours on a couple of different afternoons. Despite being ‘fixed’ at great expense in Christchurch, the gummed up high speed jet closed up and our outboard carburetor is compromised. We’ll have to be extra careful and baby it. Since we depend on that motor so much, I’m afraid to try to drill out and replace it with the spare jet we have. If it doesn’t go right, we’d be stuck. The closest replacement carb is in Japan and weeks away.
Predator free Ulva Island was a particular treat. We walked with a guide, a woman who came here in the 90’s as part of the effort to rid the island of predators, particularly rats, to save the birds. Kiwi, Robins, Bellbirds, Riflemen, Kaka and Kakariki (including one rare Yellow-Crested), huge Wood Pigeons diving and soaring in noisy acrobatics for mating season, and a beautiful extremely rare Saddleback with russet shoulders. Ulva Island has never been logged, and the native trees were breathtaking, Rimu, Totara and Miro . One grand old giant estimated at 1200 years old, with a whole ecosystem of her own thriving in the higher branches. ~MS
These pics were all taken with my iPhone, as one of the first things I managed to do was tip my kayak and lose my beautiful Sony. A lesson in attachment for sure.
This will be our last cell coverage for at least a month as we head further south, down to Port Pegasus and then on to Fiordland. Starting tomorrow (28/2/22), we’ll move over to our Inreach and Iridium systems to communicate! (You can see those details on the Contact Us page.) Be well, friends and fam. We’ll be breathing you into our hearts! ~DS