George Sound/Te Hou Hou, (‘Georgious!’) – Fiordland

Logbook entry says, ‘Choppy Sloppy!’
Marcus usually smiles and hand steers through the rough stuff!

The run outside between Caswell and George Sounds is around 14 miles. We left early to try to beat some forecast rain and gusty NW winds, and almost made it. The rain started just as we made our turn in. Diana logged the max wind at 27.2 knots, then went down and crossed it out to a revised 29 knots. By the time the wind had blasted us another two miles down the sound, Diana had crossed that out to record 42 knots. Looking on the chart with the wind howling behind us, we were concerned if Anchorage Cove would be able to offer any shelter from this angle of wind, even though it’s listed as an ‘all-weather anchorage.’ We worried it might be too gusty to safely negotiate the narrow spot between the river bar and small rocky island. We decided to poke in and check it out if we could. Right away the wind dropped into the low twenties then the teens, which still felt like a lot to try getting into the tight spot where fishermen had set up a line we could theoretically side tie to. The rain hammered down as Diana watched from the bow for shallow rocks off the island and I maneuvered Allora in, ready to back out if we needed. Despite whitecaps just outside, the winds this close to the little island dropped to near zero and Allora was able to hover effortlessly while Diana (in the kayak) quickly tied lines on the bow and stern, getting absolutely soaked in the process. It was a kind of a crazy feeling, the sudden stillness and security of that spot with gusts in the forties not half a mile away. We wouldn’t have guessed even from a couple hundred yards out that it was worth chancing. ~MS

Super tricky spot to get Allora tucked up into, it required getting sidled alongside the fishermen’s line while keeping Allora out of a couple way too shallow spots. We sat in 6’8″ of water at low tide and we draw 6’6″!
Good thing I love RAIN! (less so, freezing rain!)
We were tied between an island and the very close shore, with all sorts of debris having also been deposited in the relatively calm cove.
Weather’s clearing! The George River valley as seen from our small spot called, ‘Anchorage Cove.’
A new day dawns!!
Heading up with Namo to explore the George River (Marcus with fishing gear, me with a camera, both with awe).
Might we hear Wyatt saying, ‘watch your back cast Dad?!’
Luscious landscape!

I meandered along the trail in the woods while Marcus ambled upriver casting. People often ask about how we manage to find alone time living on a boat – this is one way.

When I saw this ‘rock of plenty,’ I knew I’d not make it too much farther up the trail!

Found this online: “Nurse logs are described as offering a verdant opportunity to contemplate the passing of time, the generational handoff, and the support we can offer each other.” HERE, HERE!

I was right there with this and still don’t know what it is I was seeing?!

No fish, still smiling – tough day on a beautiful river.
Heading back out of the river just in time for some new rain to fall. Allora is just there on the other side of the river bar.
Before we left this anchorage for another, I had designs to see if the existing water hose was flowing so we could fill our tanks. My outfits are devolving, but my motivation was intact!
This was the waterfall right near Allora which was off color from the recent downpour, but the hose would have been buried far above in cleaner water (I hoped).
Sadly, the hose wasn’t producing more than the faintest trickle. There was a fair surge in this little cove and the thick, heavy hose was all entangled in the exposed low tide rocks. Got that cleared but still no water. After some soaking wet, slippery scrambling a ways above the falls, I found the other end of the hose and ‘yahoo’, all I needed to do was secure it back in the water! I was PRETTY tickled with my own cleverness and couldn’t wait to tell Marcus about my heroic efforts (yeah, I’ve been reading about the role of the ego, yeah, I still need to read more!) but you probably can sense the anticlimax here – it didn’t work!!! UGH. So sad. I was exhausted and deflated, but thankful that I’m also reading about gratitude so I could be appreciative of our water maker!
We moved down to the end of the sound, poked into a somewhat famous (for sandflies) anchorage called, ‘Alice Falls,’ but didn’t stay because we were itching (pun) to sit at an old school free- swinging anchorage, which was also an option at the head of the bay.
More typical weather for Fiordland.

Little Blue Penguins seem pretty tiny to handle what Fiordland must dish up?!
My mom moved from southern to northern California while we were in George Sound. Thank you, dear siblings, for manifesting such an effort! Wish we could have helped, but know that we were sending soggy hugs from Fiordland! Weird to be on the other side of the planet when bigger life changes occur.

The rain eased but the wind came up in our free swinging yet exposed anchorage, so we moved back over to Alice Falls – tucked back in a very sweet cove offering lots of protection. Believe it or not, besides the prolific sandflies, this place mainly gets complaints about the noise from the roaring falls!

The next morning, we had glorious sun!
Good thing, because EVERYTHING was wet! Scenic laundromat.
We took Namo over to the George Sound DOC hut, to take the hike up to Lake Katherine.
Again, mainly a hunter’s cabin, but it was past the season, so we found it empty.

This hut is mainly used by hunters during the season. There is also an ‘expert’ rated 18 km (one way) tramping (backpacking) route from Lake TeAnau to George Sound, but it’s seriously overgrown and described by Wyatt as ‘burly.’ We hiked up just 2k (one way) to Lake Katherine and it took AWHILE on some very soggy but ‘georgeous’ trail!
Nicer hut than the Caswell 2 person.

One of the first things we had to do was something Marcus had hoped to avoid entirely – a classic 3 wire bridge with no netting or boardwalks. These are being replaced almost entirely by swing bridges or suspension bridges, but some remain in Fiordland. This river was just too high to try to wade.
So many glorious hours spent traipsing through Fiordland’s grand forests. In Japan it’s called, ‘shinrin-yoku,’ or eco-therapy forest bathing. (It was our most frequent bathing!)
Noticing the wee ones.
Textures, too.
And oh so fresh mountain water!!!! (Consider that we normally drink reverse osmosis water from our de-salination system).

Some Root Beer gummy worms?

Had hopes of seeing this Wapiti at the lake since this track was so fresh.
Lake Katherine.
Look what showed up just as we arrived?!
Sweetly imperfect.
Colorful plate mushroom.

Our return. More my kind of thing – I’d have paid to go on it!
Idyllic scene, lovely day.
It’s entirely unnerving to send that drone up and off the deck of Allora. I give Marcus huge credit for being willing to face the tummy tumult -maybe he’s tempted by the comfy clothing?
He uses the screen and I watch the actual drone, just in case.
So worth it, right?!
We tried scrambling up the true left side of Alice Falls the next day to maybe reach Alice Lake, but neither of us had what it would take!
After 5 nights in glorious George, we set out on a ‘splitter bluebird’ day for Bligh Sound. Too cold for sandflies on this sunny am!
And LOOK WHO accompanied us, smiling all the while?!
Thanks for the mighty sweet escort!

Caswell/Tai Te Timu Sound – the 45th parallel – Fiordland

Pretty little welcome rainbow as we get set to enter Caswell Sound.
There are a number of rocks studding the entrance to this fiord and caution was definitely on our minds. Often we can see that there’d be gorgeous coves to explore, but not in Allora!
How do you REALLY feel about that entrance, Marcus?!
Shirley Falls, dropping 365 meters from Lake Shirley on Caswell’s southern side. There is supposedly evidence of an old marble works that ran between 1882 and 1887 here, but I suspect it’s quite overgrown!
Ooh, let’s go look at THAT one?!!
And then this sweet, unnamed waterfall, one of a zillion that show up after each deluge. Thank you sun, for lighting her up!
We may have chosen to skip Caswell were it not for the Stillwater River at the head. It’s a gorgeous fiord though, with steep shores and rugged peaks and we spent 3 lovely nights here.
This boat, Ponowhai 3, came by to offer us some fresh fish, and I missed the shot where they were holding up the enormous Grouper (they say Groper here in NZ, same fish), but they passed over a downright SLAB which ended up being 4 meals for us two. Gratitude to the boat folks AND the grand fish.

Big Fish

a big fish lived here
under this rock
in this sound
70 meters of water
down down down
finning the murky fathoms
there must be something it is like to be
a big fish
broad tail to the tide
jaw slowly moving, gills filtering
oxygen and salt from darkness
listening to the strange whirr of a prop churning distantly overhead
scent in the current
vibrations of much younger, much smaller, more foolish fish
everyone makes mistakes
joy to the world!
big fish on!
the breathless mystery of something deep
that unremitting pull of an invisible line
uncompromising bite and stick and metal barb
is there hoping it might break free
what is it like
to be another’s flesh and dinner?
exhausted thrashing on the surface
searing bright light and fierce dryness
the gaseous, ethereal world
where white birds like cherubs flitter and follow
where albatross glide like shadows of another understanding
what is it like, big fish?
now that two men hold you in firm hands
knife wielding hands
careless hands
is this the dance?
waves surge against the rocks
seaweed starfish worms green saltwater alive
o’ fish shaped wave
these men call you big fish
men who came to find things to take
big trees all in a row
is there something it is like
to be a man holding a gray dead fish
for a picture
flesh stripped from her ancient bones ~MS

 
‘Stay put,’ we always say as we zip off to check out the Stillwater River on this grey and soggy day.
Our big adventure: get Namo upstream just far enough to pick up the scenic track along the Stillwater River which leads to Lake Marchant. We had to be tide conscious though, as there were 9′ tides here!
This is the two bunk hut run by the Department of Conservation (DOC), mainly used by hunters, but we were there just past the season, so were able to burn a bit of our paper trash in the fireplace before setting off toward the lake. Caswell sits on the 45th parallel and Wyatt’s NZ friends/roommates, Tanya and Ben had just been there in February raising funds and advocating for women suffering from domestic abuse. They scrambled, ran and traipsed the entire 45th as it crosses the South Island in NZ, from where they were dropped via helicopter at the ocean entrance to the sound to Oamaru on the east coast. We had heard from Wyatt about their effort and knew that they had planned to be exclusively off trail, but ended up coming down off the staggeringly high ridge to seek shelter from a massive storm for 3 days in this hut. The river, just below in this pic, was so high – they were worried that it would flood and the cabin might be washed away. Indeed, we were there just following a big rain, and the flow was anything BUT a still river! It would have been terrifying to be in their situation, truly. You can read about it here: https://runliketanya.com/athlete/challenges/the-45th-parallel-traverse/ I think Ben might be putting together a documentary on their arduous mission? We found their entry in the logbook which all DOC huts have and made our own, too. ~DS
The most humble DOC hut we’d ever seen.

Such a happy place.
Gorgeous hiking!

Perchance some fish thoughts, hmmm?

Nearing the lake, we had to slog through some boggy ground.

Plenty of water to be had and squeezed from our clothes!
Marcus had to be super sneaky and crawl around so as not to be seen by the fish at the glassy lake edge.
Stealthily casting to fussy fish.
Fish on! I had to run from this vantage point all the way slopping through the marsh to get there for a pic!

Several nice fish in the shallow water’s edge, but they were super spooky.

 

Brown Trout from a brown lake – not easy to spot! This one took a small nymph.
Back at it! Tying on a fly in sandfly country means there are sacrifices which must be made and sometimes you just have to hope it’s a male that lands on your face and finger (the females are the biters).
Neat place to be just hanging out. I heard the ‘pffft’ of a startled deer as I was taking some pics in the grasses, but never saw it.
Thistles throw a gorgeous flower to seed.

Going to have to do some research to learn about this fungi?!

Oh, I see your whimsy, Nature!
And your complexity, too.
Sweet spot, captivating to us both.
Another exquisite purple.

Took our face protection down for a pic and see, I’m just about to get bit. Their sensors are spectacular!

Through the droplet glass.
Moody and broody and time to go back!

Allora just waiting for us!
We saw no real wind here but got plenty WET. Waterfalls appeared all around our boat!
Had to bail Namo out and secure her up on the davits with the drain plug open!

Leaving Caswell in sloppy conditions, but arguably easier than Ben and Tanya’s method!

 

 

 

Northward to Charles/Taiporoporo Sound, Mesmerizing – Fiordland

We glided through Thompson Sound early in the am so as to avoid forecasted weather and seas on the outside.
On our way out to open ocean. Had to go check out this unusual formation?!
What looked like snow was actually bare white stone under shallow rooted vegetation (including trees) which ‘slide’ in big rains.
This mauve color was authentic and WOW!
The rocks at the fiord ‘mouth’ are always treacherous and we keep PLENTY of distance. This weather is more characteristic of the area than the gorgeous month + we’ve been wildly lucky to enjoy.
Of all the fiords, we only skipped Chalky Inlet and Nancy Sound. This was the narrow entrance to Nancy and although you can’t see it in this pic, it looked sufficiently tight and rough to make us feel ok about our earlier decision to give it a miss (based on our need to get to Picton for some much needed boat work before our Fiji passage in June).
Charles Sound/Taiporoporo. It had rained the day before, and often we are on the lookout for debris, but this downright tree wasn’t going to be missed! Later, we did hit a log at full speed and never saw it, just heard the dull thud on Allora’s hull 🙁

Charles Sound doesn’t have quite the extensive ‘tentacles’ as Doubtful or Dusky – there are only two! We chose Gold Arm and found such a dear spot for Allora just through this narrow gap, behind Catherine Island. There was a fisherman’s line in place, so we pulled right up alongside it and secured Allora at all 3 cleats, Voilá! (No anchor.)
Birdsong and sandflies aplenty!
The shoreline of Charles is entrancing!

Seaweed left high and dry on display at low tide.

Abstracts

My favorite of Diana’s photographs from Fiordland are the “abstracts,” which she discovers by looking in a very careful, unique way, at the tidal line along the rocks, that magical transitional space between the hidden world underwater and the green, vibrant life-on-fire world above. Bare stone, stained and painted with time and color, bent and reflected by the still, secret, freshwater shimmering over the tide, the infinite, creative capacity of nature. Diana uses framing to share this vision, to point out Nature’s mastery of abstract art. It’s no surprise (and no accident) that these images feel so profoundly connected to her mosaic work. Most of the time these photographic expeditions are her solo meditations, which she shares with me when she gets back to Allora (after hours in the kayak!). But I’ve also been with her, paddling Namo gently into position, sitting right next to her, appreciating the wholeness of a beautiful place but without quite seeing what she is seeing. These images, for me, represent a particular (and particularly magical) collaboration between Diana and this very, very special world we are navigating in Fiordland.~MS

 

We heard dolphins exhale RIGHT beside Allora, so donned our goofy outfits, lowered Namo off the davits and went out around the corner to see if they’d still be about. A visual feast: the bush, the shoreline, dolphins and the water, ahhh!!!
There were 6, and they were nonplussed by us. (I just went down a Wifi wormhole reading about how ‘nonplussed’ is a contronym!)
See the dorsal fin shape in the intertidal zone, too?!

After that glorious evening light, we settled in for what would be torrential rain all night. We saw 38.5 knots of wind as our max, but from the N/NW – a good direction for this location.
In the morning the water was chocolate colored and there were gushing waterfalls EVERYWHERE!

We had hopes of taking Namo up the Windward River at the head of the bay, but it was a raging ‘NO!’

Sinuous lines, ‘tidelines’ of foam where two currents meet.

Instead of moving Allora over to Emelius Arm, we left her tucked by Catherine Island and ventured 5 miles with Namo in the FREEZING early morning! Visibility was almost nil, but we went slowly and visualized a log free path!
By the time we arrived at the head of Emelius Arm, the sun had started coming up over the peaks, so we knew we’d be warm soon! It’s always harder than we imagine to find where the river (which comes from up high in the canyon ) flows into the sound. Sometimes our guide books showed an approximate position, but not always. We were tempted to follow these shadow arrows, as they seemed to be pointing the way!
Found the Irene River, though at this early stage it was as still as a lake. Our plan was to take Namo up as far as we could and then hike up beyond that until the tide dictated we return.
Hallelujah for the sun!
Sun makes us all so warm and fuzzy!
Through a narrow little offshoot, trees all around, we took Namo back and in (following the sound and a glint of white water) and look what we found?!

 

Looked it up on our favorite (offline) app, NZ TOPO 50, and learned that this beauty is Marjorie Falls!

 

Super hard visibility for seeing the myriad snags. It was gorgeous, but took intense focus getting upriver.

Time to hike/fish and let Namo rest.
And to the cicada’s surprise, two new creatures showed up!

Happy to get in the forest on foot and lay some hands on these wise elders!
Marcus didn’t end up seeing any fish, but it was such a pleasure: gravel beds, a reasonable trail on the true left bank, deer sign and a sun dappled forest.
I left this for Marcus so he might see it on his way back down river. Glad I took the pic, because he didn’t!

A fine, fine day!
Had to tear ourselves away and still we left about 1.5 hours after our intention, so the water was REALLY ‘skinny’ for our return.

We negotiated snags the whole way and had to walk/pull Namo out the last 200′!

What a beautiful sight, to see Allora peacefully resting just as we’d left her! Phenomenal day!
Left Charles Sound at 10am – 3 days of solitude and bliss.

 

Doubtful/Patea, aka Gleeful Sound – Fiordland

Dash from Dagg to Doubtful:

The relatively short distances between sounds along Fiordland’s rugged coast allow for mad dashes timed to brief calms, but you can’t really read the ocean’s mood sheltered in the steep granite walls of the fiords. Often the designation, “all weather anchorage,” means that fishermen have figured out that even in the worst conditions, certain spots are spared. The only way to know when it’s time to go, if you don’t have the benefit of years of local knowledge, is to study the weather models that we download twice a day from PredictWind. Because they are downloading via Iridium satellite, the resolution of the models cannot be higher that 50km. So there’s a bit of an odd effect as the models average how much the wind on the Tasman Sea is slowed down by the mountainous Fiordland coast, giving the appearance of lighter winds close to shore. They probably are a little lighter compared to what they are 20 miles out at sea, but our experience is that the models generally underestimate what it’s like on the outside and overestimate what we’ll experience once inside.  Wind or no, gale or no, the seas are almost always a mess, particularly where local winds funnel through the openings of the sounds. Schedules are well known as the bane of sailing but in the land based world they are unavoidable, and Wyatt had a particularly narrow window of time to squeeze in a visit to us amid preparations to leave New Zealand. So we considered ourselves unreasonably lucky when the wind that pinned us down for a couple of days in Daag, relented in perfect time for us to make the dash. We arrived at the opening of Doubtful with what Wyatt would call a ‘splitter bluebird’ sunny day. ~MS

We saw the full flow of waterfalls after the previous day’s rain as we left Dagg Sound. By the time we got to Doubtful, they were less vigorous, heading into their ‘elegant’ phase!
The clouds came and went, as they do; a reminder that Wyatt would soon join us and then be off again. Even these monolithic mountains, seemingly in stasis, are ever in flux.
We scooted directly on up to Deep Cove so we’d be all set for Wyatt’s morning arrival the next day. SO EXCITED!
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Allora on a mooring (all by herself) in Doubtful Sound, tucked right up next to the roar of Helena Falls. Evening spent getting the aft cabin clear of STUFF to welcome Wyatt the next day. Here, I don the particular ‘happy parent’ expression, just moments after snagging Wyatt off the bus!
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Yep, the same one!
Triad of smiles.
Wyatt made a fairly long journey from Wanaka to meet up with us: ( 4 hours via car to Manapouri via Queenstown, Ferry across Lake Manapouri to West Arm, Bus via Wilmot Pass Road).  We hardly paused before whisking Wyatt away on the last leg of this long adventure toward Hall Arm.
Oh, how we love VISITS!!!
It was a dramatic day, light wise. Sometimes it’d be broody and dark and then beams of sunlight would break through and highlight just one sliver of the mountainside.

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Think we would have been happy gathering anywhere, but this is most definitely Wyatt’s giddy inducing environment!
I have interspersed Wyatt’s pics throughout this blog post – and used ©WS to indicate his shots.
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These two …
We had to stay ‘on our game’ to keep anchoring strategies as thorough despite Wyatt’s being with us. Thankfully, the weather cooperated, with the max wind being 21 knots, and Wyatt always has a good sense of being responsible to the situation, anyway.
Anchoring – We never did buy the ‘marriage saver’ headphones which might be a bit softer in the decibel department for communicating between bow and stern. But in this steep sided environment, sometimes our voices would even echo! (Fun for music playing, too!)
Found our spot! Hall Arm is actually breath-taking!!
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Oh yeah, this’ll do!
©WS We anchored in 68′ of water – so pretty deep – with all our rode out.
I think all 3 of us held a quiet awareness around how hard our next goodbye would be, as Wyatt was planning to leave NZ after spending 2.5 years building community in Wanaka and sharing some real quality time with us.

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Ok, let’s go EXPLORE!!

©WS Snagging one of these close ups sometimes involves a bit of scrambling! (Wyatt was too busy grabbing me from the icy water after I slipped and fell in to take a picture!)

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Ha, Wyatt caught us both entranced!

We have experienced a profound cumulative effect traveling through the wilderness of these southern fiords, as we mash through the tangled forest or glide like a whisper through glassy, watery mountain reflections. We feel a growing, deepening awareness of the liveness and power of this unfettered place. Every day Diana peers a little closer into the magical profusion of the rainforest, its tiniest creatures (or the smallest we may perceive) all this abundance of life fueled by fresh water, gray stormy clouds, shifting rays of sunlight, massive stone faces fading softly into the distance. The boundless imagination of nature is vividly accessible here, free of scheming human interference. Inexhaustible, effortless celebration. We feel blessed to feel like we belong, to participate at our particular scale, with our particular way of perceiving. Gratefully reconnected as dolphins come to play alongside Allora, turn and smile and look back at us with familiar eyes, into our own delighted gaze. As the sky softens at sunset, or looms heavy with rain before the storm, as water gushes from waterfalls that were not there before the deluge, thundering into the fiord, as williwaws tornado in wild rainbow mists across startled coves, how delightful it is to be alive, a part of, this marvelous, miraculous world. ~MS

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The layout of Doubtful/Bradshaw/Thompson Sounds. You can see why they’re called ‘arms.’
©WS We moved each night because Wyatt had just 5 with us and although we KNOW ‘more isn’t more,’ we couldn’t resist! Also, weather necessitated we seek certain protection, so we had THAT excuse (wink).
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Gaer Arm up Bradshaw Sound is a famously hard spot to set anchor, normally only a daytime or fair weather anchorage. The Camelot River is at the head and offers great potential for dingy/kayak exploration at high tide, so we strategized and came up with a plan since we had some moderate winds forecasted.
Anchored off the mud bank of the Camelot at the head of the arm.
Just starting up the Camelot, Allora barely in sight. We timed our Camelot River foray and left two hours before high tide, towing the kayak behind Namo. We crept up 2k carefully avoiding snags and rocks until reaching a clear ‘no go’ spot for Namo. At that point, the guys hiked a couple more kilometers up the gorgeous river and I turned back toward Allora with the kayak, so as to be on the boat for the predicted winds.
Learned something about how cloudy days can actually be more subtle light for shooting.
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I turned back toward Allora while Marcus and Wyatt fished upstream.
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Making my way back to Allora in some pretty ‘skinny’ water. There were sulphuric smelling hot water bubbling spots all across the shallows!
Allora nicely sitting just where we left her and in very placid conditions. The wind did end up picking up, but not in any significant way and our anchor stayed set nicely.
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We moved across Bradshaw Sound to Precipice Cove/MacDonnell Island, an all weather anchorage.
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Still quite giddy about having one on one time with Wyatt before he flies back to the States.
Wyatt went off on a long kayak while we heard word about our long awaited boxes of pre-ordered ‘fresh’ veggies! Real Journeys offers the service in collaboration with a grocery store in Te Anau. It’s kind of a miracle and although it didn’t go flawlessly, we were more than happy to jump through a few hoops to get celery and lettuce and carrots, oh my!
The Milford Mariner, a boat run by Real Journeys, called us on the VHF and said they had our 3 boxes of veggies! We were expecting them to arrive the day we picked up Wyatt, but they kept going missing. Anyway, we zipped over to the head of the bay and their lights made them look even more angelic in my eyes! The first ‘freshies’ since leaving Oban a good two months ago! I definitely did a vegetable dance!
Instead of the 45 knot winds which were predicted, we saw only a few mild gusts but LOTS of rain, enough to almost fill both of our water tanks (200 gallons!).

Before heading to Crooked Arm, we went a bit farther on to see some of the waterfalls at the head of Precipice Cove.
©WS Yeah, it DID rain A LOT!
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Marcus was super generous to be helmsman while Wyatt and I ran around gleefully taking pictures!
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Looking down into Thompson Sound from Penoulo Reach.

A frisky band of Bottlenose Dolphins took to leaping in the wake of a Real Journeys boat which whizzed by us. We weren’t even sure if the folks on that boat saw the antics because they just kept on keeping on. Meanwhile, we stopped and spent over an hour and a half with these VERY social and smiley creatures! All of these dolphin shots are Wyatt’s. My camera fogged up and he needed an SD card anyway, so I just spent the whole time giggling!
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Always and already …
We spent our last evening at the end of Crooked Arm, just 1 mile as the crow flies to Dagg Sound. I was sure Wyatt would want to run across, but we didn’t arrive till quite late in the afternoon and we were cherishing our last time for sweet conversation.
And what an evening it was! Fiordland showed off a wee bit.
We shot this when we thought Wyatt had the possibility of extending his stay one more day, hence the smiles. We learned soon after that we had to rush in the morning to get him back to Deep Cove for an earlier bus because they’d cancelled the other option. 🙁
One last kayak outing.
Leaving Crooked Arm and working our way back to Deep Cove, Marcus maneuvered Allora right up next to these stunners.

Last things to say. This appears to have more lightness and less tears than I remember?
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Back at Deep Cove. We ran Wyatt over to the place where we’d picked him up and we saw his bus leaving – 15 minutes EARLY! It was against my better interests, because I’d have loved to KEEP him for 2 more days, but I screamed my throat raw, the driver stopped and he made the bus. No Italian style protracted goodbyes though – he was off in an instant! OUCH, rip the bandaid! (Was glad we’d had that heart to heart in the morning!) Ciao bello!
Marcus and I took a walk, hardly talking, just savoring the blissful blur of the 5 past days traipsing all over Doubtful Sound with our baby!
The light was even a bit melancholy.
Never too disheartened to be lit up by a new mushroom find!
We found a trail right up to the base of Helena Falls.
Last light of the day along the tail-race looking in the direction which Wyatt headed, starting this new chapter in his life.
We had to fuel up Allora and do some laundry (real life after sustained play), so we stopped one last night in Snug Cove/First Arm of Doubtful before heading northward.
Almost like a dream …

 

Doubtful we’ll ever forget this.

 

Wet Jacket Arm, not just any Arm – Fiordland.

Our wake was the only disturbance as we slinked up Acheron Passage toward Wet Jacket Arm.
Did the whole Astanga practice in sandfly attire on the foredeck, underway but oh so calm.

In our past experience, being this close to shore would NOT feel like where you’d want to be in a big blow, but when in Fiordland …
We’re tied every which way!
Lavishly colored intertidal zones.
It’s always fun to explore after we get Allora all set and secure.
Not sure if the sandflies avoid us because we’re covered or just too dorky.
Me if we stayed in Fiordland much longer.
We just kept cracking up at our ‘get ups.’
These teensy charmers were just about a half centimeter!
Nature has some clever solutions for seed distribution.
Walked up this creekbed for a ways. In general, we managed far more hiking than in most places, despite the clear challenges.
Possibly another lichenized fungus, but I’m not sure?! Will research!
Let the rain begin …

We ended up with buckets of rain and big winds from the west. At night there was bioluminescence as the raindrops hit the water!!!
The next day there were waterfalls everywhere, and the creekbed we had walked up was a river!

Lots to captivate ~ lingering rainbows, new waterfalls, breathtaking bush, dolphins and surreal reflections while moving up to the end of Wet Jacket Arm. I wrote these words in the logbook from that day: ‘OH MY GOODNESS – A VISUAL FEAST!’

A group of maybe 12 Bottlenose cruised along the shore, paralleling our movements for :45!

Called this my ‘surfboard.’
Such a pretty palette
Sphagnum magellanicum, commonly called Magellanic bogmoss.

Another stunning move to our next anchorage NE of Oke Island. Happy me.
While trying to decide if we’d head out on an afternoon hike at Herrick Creek across the bay, this rainbow arched directly over the access point, so our decision was made!
We should most definitely look up to them.
As if ‘normal’ colored mushrooms weren’t rad enough already?!

And THESE?!!! (I’ll hope to edit in some names later).
Classic Fiordland.

An altar in the woods.
Heard there are no poisonous berries in NZ, but we didn’t dare.
Lush habitat.
Okay, THEN we came upon THIS!!!
Time time time
the blink of an eye
this old tree stands
long passed her prime
twists and turns and bends
green and tattered limbs
once a luxurious crown, thin and brittle now
built a mighty trunk
roots bound to ancient stone
deep fissures of wisdom
etched by sun and boundless sky
age like vines creeps in
dancing with cruel and gentle winds
obliging every whim
mist and storm, drought and deluge
now these wooden branches 
broken and hollow 
hang as open arms
rings within rings
home of a million creatures
grateful or indifferent
loss and love make her beautiful
mother to a forest ~MS
Phenomenal, truly.
Cohabitation.

 

Symbiotic joy!
A shelf mushroom with the same myriad colors as our magic tree.
These water droplet patterns reminded me of molecular structures from Chemistry.
We reached the lake!
No context, just expression!
There are more. Message me if you want the full repertoire?! I kept thinking that our Magic tree might know just what was being communicated here.