Farewell New Zealand, we fell in love …

We thought about this moment for so crazy long! Even with half her face hidden under a mask, and after nearly 3 years of absence, we SAW Maddi! A flooding of love was pretty evident in that small KeriKeri airport. Anyone with PDA issues must have fled the scene.
Travelin’ clothes.
After a protracted amount of clinging and crying in the airport, we drove a few miles to a cafe and continued with more of the same.
I pretty much always want to be an octopus, but would have especially liked more arms to wrap around Maddi on this joyous day!
We’d been watching the weather and had little time to get quite a lot of preparedness items checked off the list. Maddi jumped right in and sewed a tough sail repair.
Beautiful AND strong! (The repair AND Madison!)
Here we go! Foulies on, this is HAPPENING!

Passage to Fiji

Words we used to describe this passage upon arrival in Fiji when asked by the manager of Vuda Marina (pronounced Vunda): boisterous, lively, bumpy, rambunctious. Our passage was probably pretty typical, as good as you could reasonably expect from Opua to Vuda Point, Fiji. We left on the very day our fourth consecutive visitor’s visa finally expired! New Zealand took such good care of us throughout Covid, but the time comes when even the most charming guests need to be encouraged to abandon the couch and find some new friends. We departed on the end of a passing front, which meant strong (up to 42kts) SW winds kicking us on the tail. Diana posted these notes via Iridium to our tracker.

“You would have thought we were eager to leave NZ – the way Allora shot out of the gate and rode the tail end of a ‘low’ with 3+ meter waves and up to 42kts of wind! We’re now 24 hours and 175 nautical miles in, and the seas are showing a trend toward easing with the wind. Currently on a port tack paralleling our rhumb line. The guitars have just come out and “I Can See Clearly Now!” Highlights: bioluminescence, Albatross, slightly warmer temps and Maddi as crew (just one night watch each, woohoo!”)

Must have been strange for Maddi to have just flown in to NZ not a week before, and then to be sailing away? It was such a kindness on her part, to use her precious down time to help us get Allora to the tropics. As for us, this moment resonated somewhere deep inside and both Marcus and I processed this significant Aotearoa goodbye quietly. It was almost too big to put words around. New Zealand took dear care of us both.
Indeed, every time I looked at our chartplotter and saw the symbol of Allora inching away from NZ, and Haley and Liam, I felt a mini gut punch.
Conditions were big at the start since we left Opua on the tail of a system, taking advantage of the associated winds. When it’s like this, it’s time to connect with the rhythm of the ocean, not battle it. Maddi and Marcus tend to be able to handle just about anything the sea dishes up without needing meds. I was ‘patched’ up!
What a treat – hot cuppa tea, thanks Mad!

Passages are so good for the soul. Where else can we slow down quite like this? It’s almost a meditation retreat, with a little core workout thrown in!

Homemade Roti?! Oh, yes, we would, thank you!
Marcus rigging fishing lines since we were expecting a period of calm water.

We hoped for maybe a day of wind to push us along, but we were lucky as the winds held out for almost two. You hear about the occasional passage with wind the whole way, but the horse latitudes aren’t called the horse latitudes for nothing… well actually there seem to be a quite a few theories about why they’re called the horse latitudes, only a couple of them to do with the paucity of wind. The basic idea is that this is where the easterly trade winds peter out, but is also the normal limit of frontal systems and westerlies in the mid-latitudes. Makes sense if the wind is going to switch from West to East that there should be some dead space between. We motored for just under twenty-four hours (we thought it might be as much as two days) using our 80 horses to get us through. We’re not big on running the engine (the noise gets tiresome and makes guitar playing tough), but we did enjoy the calmer seas, and the increasingly warmer night watches.

Offsetting the sound of our engine with a little music on the deck.
Our Kevlar, light wind sail, the Code Zero.

Hard to get my fingers moving freely enough in the brrr, cold!
These two have always enjoyed conversation over early morning coffee.
Navasana – supported boat pose on a moving boat!
PhD thesis work in becalmed seas.
Nice to still be enjoying green crunchy things at this stage of the passage. One benefit of the cool temps!

On my watch, just after dawn, just as I was about to shut the engine off and rally the troops to hoist the code zero, the engine made a loud screech and shut down without any warning beeps or anything. What followed was a gorgeous day of sailing in light beam winds with the big sail out that was a bit sullied by time spent trying to figure out what was going on with the engine. We suspected a transmission problem as there have been signs of impending doom for a little while, but we didn’t want make things worse and break something further, by trying to start it up until we could eliminate the possibility of water in the cylinders. I exchanged a few texts with the Yanmar guy in Lyttelton, Brian, who by good fortune happened to be at his shop on a Sunday, and he talked me through what to look for. Our mechanically minded sailor friends Ian in England (previously mentioned in this blog as the man with a plan) and Mark from Starlet both responded promptly to our SAT phone email with gearbox advice that was invaluable. I’m sure anyone can imagine how good it feels when you’re hundreds of miles out to sea, to have friends like this to turn to. Later, the Fijian mechanic showed us pictures of the main bearing in the gearbox which had literally blown up (which more than explained the problem.) Why is a longer story, which I’m happy to share with anyone interested in the gory details. I promise not to take the fifth. Luckily, we didn’t need the engine until well inside the reef at Fiji. By some miracle it held together long enough to get us into the marina.

Not too fun to troubleshoot engine issues underway.

Such joy!
Maddi made an inventive, phenomenal curry tweaking an Ottolenghi recipe to adapt to what we actually had on hand. Memorable!

The rest of the sail, the wind was on the beam or just ahead of the beam, consitently over 20 knots with 3 to 4 meter very confused seas for the first day, which slowly moderated a little (though the wind did not) and became more regular.

Comatose, ear plugged and cocooned in pillows, Di utilizing the patented ‘foot hook on the lee cloth’ method, no pea would hinder this sleep! NEVER too many pillows!! There are no words to adequately describe the heaven that it is to be allowed your off watch slumber! Of course, with Maddi on this passage, our shifts were MUCH easier than our previous couple passages, so we felt seriously indulged.
Running the sheet for the code Zero from the bow back to the cockpit, Maddi’s also tethered to Allora along a ‘jackline.’
Music, music everywhere!
A splashy sunrise kind of morning.
I missed capturing the full wave over her head, but you can see the dousing on the cockpit floor. Mad’s coffee even got salted! Good Morning!

Maddi posted this note for Day 5:

“Poseidon has changed his mood, with boistrous seas catching us abeam and wind aplenty. With our course now set for Nadi, the Allora crew has spent the day either laying down or holding on tight. It’s incredible how tasks that were easy in the weekend calm have now become ludicrously challenging: making coffee, putting on pants… just want to take a pee in peace? Good luck! We keep thinking things are calming down, but perhaps it’s just our imaginations (and wishful thinking from unsettled tummies). Allora, for her part, seems to bounce joyfully over the boisterous seas, carrying us northward. The warm air, puffy trade wind clouds, and occasional flying fish among the leaping waves remind us that we’re back the tropics. We managed to brave the splashy cockpit for some music today, and only one of us took a full dousing! Heading into the night a salty crew, with gratitude for the wind and hopes for mellower seas tomorrow.”

Ok, this MAY be a re-enactment of the real scene, but it’s truly how we move about down below to avoid getting thrown from starboard to port!
Rigging the preventer so we don’t accidentally jibe!
Seconds later, I got swamped by a wave, but my inner super hero showed up and I saved the guitar!
We kept trying to sit on that side because it was easier, but time and time again, we’d get soaked! Time to get THERE – we’re getting punchy!
‘Land Ho!’ Always two mighty fine words!
Our track from A to B! We were hoping to make a stop at Minerva Reef (S), but the engine troubles made that a no go.

Though our speed through water was usually pretty stunning, it was all such a sloppy mess that our actual distance made good suffered. Still we logged a couple days over 170 miles, coming in at 7 days for the whole passage. After a rowdy, tumultuous, brisk and challenging ride, the calm water inside the lagoon felt surreal, the welcome song at the quarantine dock seriously touched our hearts and the Covid tests brought actual tears to our eyes!

Allora tied up at the Quarantine dock in Vuda Marina, Viti Levu, FIJI!!! It was here that about 25 crew came walking down to greet us, guitar and flower wreath in hand, singing their BULA welcome song! What a way to arrive in a new country! We had filed tons of paperwork before leaving NZ, then called when we were a ways offshore letting them know that we’d be actually arriving on this day, 7/7/22. We didn’t wait long at all before a series of lovely officials came and cleared us and Allora into the country. Quite a bit nicer than standing in those long airport lines!
We had to take a Covid test before we left NZ and upon arrival in Fiji. Once clear of that, we had biosecurity come and take any of the items I was silly enough to offer up (read: too many), we let go of some honey, nuts, grains and fresh vegetables … anything which could have pest issues. Being vegetarian helped, as they’d have confiscated our meat, too, if we had any. Customs and Immigration also made their stops and within about an hour, we were all cleared in, cruising permit in hand.
Miles and miles of smiles and memories – ta, Mad.
Vuda Marina (pronounced, ‘Vunda’). Lots more about this neat little marina in further posts. We ended up spending almost a month while waiting for our engine replacement parts to come from the States. During this time, we also secured a cyclone pit here for the upcoming season, from Nov. to April.

Maddi’s time in Fiji was already going to be pretty short, after waiting in Opua for weather, so we just couldn’t stand the idea of hanging out in the Marina, working engine or not, even though that would obviously be the prudent choice. We hadn’t seen the blown bearing yet, so blissfully ignorant, we decided that we would sail out to the reef for a couple of nights. We picked a spot that looked like we could sail onto anchor, and off, if we had to. Namo (our dinghy) was also standing by to push us along if all else failed. The wind cooperated (which is lucky because the engine quit again just after we got out of the marina and got our sail up), and though we didn’t have to sail onto anchor, we did have to manually drop it since the rough seas of passage had managed to drown a supposedly waterproof fuse box on the windlass. 

Our ‘Obi Wan Sknobi’ survived the passage!!!! She rocks! We had her in the gimbaled oven so she wouldn’t get tossed around quite as much as we did, since we heard they don’t like being ‘agitated!’ Who does?! Anyway, we are still able to have our daily Kombucha, yahoo!!! Scoby Doo!!!
We have 2 guitars, a uke and now a RAV VAST drum on Allora!
Another boat on a mooring off Namotu Island in the Mamanucas.
Namotu Island Resort has just 11 ‘bures’ and caters to surfers; the world famous ‘Cloudbreak’ is just offshore here. We watched some spectacular launches off these impressive waves and stuck to snorkeling with ‘not enough time,’ as our convenient excuse! This particular resort chooses to keep exclusive and they ask that ‘yachties’ don’t come ashore, while other places seem to welcome the extra company and business and go out of their way to be inclusive. Either way, we were free to enjoy the surrounding waters and just enjoy being on anchor in the fresh breeze.
Being on anchor at sunset is probably one of the most obvious things we missed while living in the marina in Lyttelton, NZ. It was sweet, too, but just not the same thing.
Maddi’s always keen to get on the paddleboard, making us glad we have it still.
Time to relax – after a lot of paying close attention to all things boat safety related. Thanks for being so mindful, Captain.
Thought she might go right on into the orange spot!

Maddi watched this Banded Sea Snake for awhile as it exhibited some strange behavior, almost trying to get aboard Allora. We learned later, they’re highly venomous, but generally don’t strike unless provoked. No temptation there.

The night before we had to take Maddi back for her flight, I woke up feeling pretty sick. Diana was feeling a bit off, too. She thought it was the rolly anchorage, I thought it might be bad food. By morning I was slammed. So Diana and Maddi brought Allora back without my help.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a scrap of wind, so they motored the whole way, with Diana in deep psychic communication with the Yanmar 4JH80, to keep it together until she could get all the way in the narrow marina entrance and tied up to the circular quay at Vuda. I watched from below – first the palms of the channel drifting by and then our neighbors’ masts as she wedged Allora into her spot, bumper to bumper with boats on either side. Flawlessly executed. We realize we really need to trade jobs now and then, just to practice for occasions like this. ~MS

The minute I pulled Allora in to the dock, I felt a flush of sickness and within minutes I realized I was actually quite sick, too. I kept thinking of that Rilke quote: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going.” Maddi had to see her parents gravitationally challenged on her last day, and she was the only one who could ‘keep going.’ She tended to us with grace and positivity, then took a cab to the airport all by herself and was off, whoosh, back to Bozeman. Marcus tested negative for Covid and we both felt fine the next day so I didn’t even bother checking. Bizarre end to some sweet days. Go well, Mad. You are lit like bioluminescence and we miss you big already!


Passagemaking: Milford Sound to Abel Tasman National Park, South Island/NZ

It was a bit spooky sailing out of Milford at midnight without a moon. We had our inbound tracks on the chartplotter to follow, but it’s pretty amazing how disorienting darkness can be, even for feeling whether to turn to port or starboard to follow a line. Also with the steep granite walls, we didn’t feel 100% confident in our GPS. Diana went to the bow, and I stepped away from the helm to try to orient myself every few minutes, as we moved cautiously down the fiord. Though the GPS did seem to have a decent idea about where we were, it was also reassuring to have radar confirming the distance to the rock walls on either side. But what helped me relax most at the helm, was when Diana shouted that the dolphins had come to escort us out. I leaned over the rail and could just see and hear them splashing off our port headed for the bow. It was hard not to feel like they’d showed up intentionally to reassure us.

South Island of NZ and our sailing track. We spent 3 months in that lower SW corner and then dashed up the whole island on the west side in 3 days!

One of the many challenges of the passage from Milford up around Cape Farewell into the Cook Strait, is that there is only one place you might possibly stop, but that requires negotiating a river bar entrance at Westport (just north of Cape Foulwind!), which is safe only in decent weather. Otherwise, it’s a solid three day run (if you keep your speed up), which just barely fits into the cycle of weather shifting from South to North. The weather window that presented itself to us seemed pretty typical, catching the end of a southerly, motoring and motor-sailing through variable winds in a race to meet the Cape with relatively light winds rather than the usual NW or SE gale.Leaving sooner, we’d have had more wind to sail with, but we’d risk arriving too early for the switch of winds at Cape Farewell.

Diana took the first watch just after 2 AM after we cleared the hazards on the north side of the entrance to Milford and could head more directly north. “Really cold, icy hands,” she wrote in the margins of the logbook. “Overcast skies heading further out to clear Arawua Point/Big Bay Bluff.” Just after sunrise on my watch, I got a glimpse of the mountains south of Mt Aspiring, which reminded me of Wyatt’s 100 mile run the length Aspiring National Park. I wondered if he could have seen the Tasman Sea from any of those lofty ridge lines he traversed?

NZ’s wild west.
Hard to sail away from that remarkable corner of the universe. Allora always seems up to the task, even if we’re a bit reluctant.
I’m afraid we have a stowaway!
He looks about as eager as I did for this passage.
His ‘foulies’ are cooler than ours!
There are mountains in them thar clouds!
Sunrises and sunsets don’t go unnoticed out here.

Also in the logbook, I see a lot of scribbles in these notes about fuel rates, and estimates of actual fuel burned for miles ‘made good.’ Allora carries 190 gallons full which is more than enough for the distance as long as the weather is reasonably cooperative, but it makes a difference if you’re burning 1.5 gallons/hour or pushing the engine and burning 2.5 gallons/hour. The extra gallon doesn’t double your speed. People better at the maths would probably be able to calculate exactly what fuel rate is most efficient. I settled upon 1.6 or 1.7 as an nice compromise of efficiency, speed (to make our date at Cape Farewell) and comfort.

We had rain. We had current steadily set against us. We had dolphins streak by in the night leaving comet trails in the bioluminescence. We fussed about the wind, almost-but-not-quite-enough to sail, ever creeping up on the nose. We almost lost a batten in the mainsail. Then later, Otto, our autopilot made a sudden decision to turn hard to starboard out of nowhere. The switch for the high pressure pump on the watermaker heated up and set off the smoke alarm (naturally at night-while I was off watch). We saw no other boats besides the occasional fishing boat working closer to shore. We caught a glimpse of Aoraki (Mt Cook) at sunset, and at Cape Foulwind a couple of seal lions waved as we passed by.

And my lil’ camera could not capture how stunning this scene was!

On the last night, as seems to be a theme lately, Diana drew the toughest watch of the passage. There was just no way to completely avoid a patch of heavy winds slated to meet us as we approached the Cape, straight on the nose. We tried to time it for the least possible, but Poseidon wasn’t going to let us off feeling too clever. For her whole watch, Allora slammed into 20 knots on the bow clawing her way up the last bit of coast to Cape Farewell. Finally, after calling Farewell Maritime radio to try to find out whether it was generally considered advisable to cut the corner at Kahurangi shoals (which they weren’t really able to commit to), we decided it probably wasn’t, so we slogged on. Diana went off watch and very soon after, we were able to fall off the wind. Just five degrees made a big difference. Pretty soon we were motor-sailing and by Diana’s last sunrise watch she was able to shut the engine off and sail along Farewell Spit, an amazing 25km sandbank off the northwestern corner of the South Island at the opening of Cook Strait. The winds were light but sweet. Finally! ~MS

We had to ‘hot bunk’ which (sounds better than it is), means sharing the same berth in shifts because the boat is heeling too much in one direction to utilize the other side. I left Marcus a chocolate on his pillow to further sweeten his off watch experience!
Gotta love modern times – ship captains of yore didn’t used to provide their first mates with latte’s as a wake up! Feeling grateful …
First light on the last day of our passage.
Oh hello dawn, we see you!
The same sunrise unfurling.
Allora and her crew get some sweet, smooth motion before finally rounding Farewell Spit and finding an anchorage.
Allora seems to keep a steady pace, but her crew at this point can feel like horses heading back to the barn, anxious to just GET THERE! It’s definitely a lesson in savoring what IS!
Before we even tucked into Abel Tasman, my phone started ‘bleeping’ frantically, the first Wifi messages in nearly 3 months came flooding in. I have to say, both sides of the phone equation are awesome – putting it away, disconnected from the world and then THIS! Siblings reunited for the first time in 3 years! Love in pixels!
And Grandma Elizabeth sandwiches are always delicious!
Marcus’ reaction when I shared these pics.
Bark Bay, our first anchorage in Abel Tasman. We contemplated getting Namo off our foredeck and exploring that little sweet beach, but instead, we just sat on deck and savored the stillness.
This gull landed as we were just feet away on deck.
Grey skeletal remains of wilding pines (invasive conifers in NZ).


Magical Milford Sound/Piopiotahi! – Fiordland

The seaward side of Sutherland Sound is blocked by a sand/gravel bar, so deep draft vessels can’t venture far ‘inside,’ and there are no recognized anchorages for yachts.
Couldn’t resist slipping in to Poison Bay/Papa Pounamu, just to take it in.
These would have been the calm conditions described in our book as being necessary to spend the night in Poison Bay, but we didn’t have the time, sadly.
The very dwarfed looking Stirling lighthouse at the entrance of Milford Sound where it meets the Tasman Sea.

Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) resonates with awe and leaves us speechless, like the Grand Canyon or Machu Picchu, or the Magellanic Clouds on a vividly starry night at sea. The sheer mass and scale, the soaring beauty, each breathtaking turn. Words just pour out, but fail to capture what it feels like to sail into this magnificent fiord. The day we spent in this unique-in-the world place, was blue and lit with sun, the water impenetrably deep, granite walls towered over us, beyond imagination and comprehension, the waterfalls gushed bountifully without end. Apparently Captain Cook missed Milford on his first pass, and actually that’s not entirely surprising. Approaching from the sea the fiord begins rather humbly and then builds and builds in its symphonic crescendo of magnificence. A bit much? Not really. Every time I stepped away from the helm and out from under the dodger I caught my breath as I looked up and up. ~MS

The tour boats run in a clockwise loop around Milford, and there were probably FAR fewer than in non-Covid affected years, (saw maybe 12 all day), but we were able to stay quite clear of them just by scooting to the middle or going the other way – basically we had the luxury of no rules! But who’s looking at boats with these sheer rock faces in our midst?

Excited visitors to this breathtaking sound are at risk for ‘Milford Neck Syndrome.’ By the end of the day, my neck wouldn’t support my head anymore – had been looking up too much!!

There’s a resident pod of Bottlenose Dolphins in Milford – they dashed over eagerly to welcome Allora!

Heading up toward Deepwater Basin, the tourist concession. Milford is the only fiord that can be reached directly by vehicle and because of that, it normally receives up to 500,000 visitors per year! When we went via car (with Wyatt) in April 2021, ours was the ONLY car in the massive parking lot. Now, a year later, tourism is inching its way back.
Iconic Mitre Peak, 1683m
Some people book their big Milford trip a year in advance and then get one of the 182 rainy days/year. Feeling such gratitude to the weather gods!
Bowen Falls adorned by a rainbow, as if it needed more?!

We had to keep Allora off shore just enough to avoid a full shower from the downpour of Stirling Falls. She drops 150 meters (a 35 story building worth!)

We were both giddy all day and so so glad we made this quick but rich visit!

Real Journeys offered up their mooring in Harrison Cove since they wouldn’t be using it. This saved us figuring out how to find a suitable anchoring spot in otherwise super deep water.
So EASY! No kayaking multiple lines to shore anymore!
Low light on Donne Glacier, but there’s a GLACIER in our anchorage?!!!
Last light on the peaks.
Wyatt left NZ for the States on this day. Something about that fact coupled with our sort of ceremonially special last hours in Fiordland left us feeling a bit stunned. We fell asleep super early and woke back up at midnight to start our passage up the West Coast. At 12:15 am, we left Harrison Cove in such pitch blackness that we were grateful for the silhouetted ‘steep as’ granite walls and the resident dolphins which escorted us out with an utterly magical and hushed Fiordland goodbye. Haere rā!




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!

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.


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.


Dagg/Te Ra Sound, shared only with Wapiti in the ‘roar.’ – Fiordland

Heading north along the west coast of the South Island, soon to turn east into Dagg Sound!
The sun started making an appearance, highlighting the seemingly endless layers unfolding into … infinity?!
We both saw a crazy optical illusion as we headed out of Breaksea Sound – of breaking waves in the distance ACROSS the entrance/exit. Turns out, the path was clear and calm, but some light bending effect had us both pretty focused and ready to retreat back to Stevens Cove if necessary! In general, the chart plotter and real life conditions both need our attention. We found our Navionics charts to be thankfully accurate in Fiordland, though still a fair amount of erroneous depth readings and the occasional goofy moments when small islands would be charted which weren’t there.
Approaching the Dagg Sound entrance.
Always a nice exhale when we cross from the ‘outside,’ to the ‘inside!’
The ‘grotto’ beneath this waterfall must have been gorgeous?! I wanted to drop the kayak and go over there, but we had an anchorage to go find.
Dagg Sound is 8+ miles long and branches into two arms. We first chose
‘Anchorage Arm’ and had glassy calm conditions. Instead of trying to find shallow enough depths in the middle to anchor in, we snugged up super close to shore utilizing some fishermen’s lines which are rigged in place. Wonderful protection from winds, mellifluous creek sounds and voracious sandflies!
Such a little creature to cause so much mischief!
My armor: fleece onesie, scarf and balaclava/hat (ready to be dropped over my whole face when, after about 7 seconds of being outside, every sandfly in the universe descends on me. Haha, unless Marcus is out there too!)
Caught this Albacore on the ‘outside,’ just seconds after videotaping Marcus setting out the rod and line, and commenting that I wasn’t sure I wanted to even catch a fish because of the large swell!
Went out on Namo with MS to explore the colorful shoreline at the end of the day.

We moved to the southern arm of Dagg to the ‘All weather anchorage’ since bigger winds were predicted and we liked the idea of a swing anchorage instead of being tied so close to shore.
Always fun to see what’s around the corner!
New spot!

Something happened when the twenty North American Wapiti Roosevelt gifted to New Zealand in 1905 found their way into the heart of Fiordland’s steep and impenetrable wilderness. Maybe there’s a perfectly rational scientific explanation (maybe it has something to do with crossing breeding with Red Deer?). They got a bit smaller than the fat and happy elk of Yellowstone (which certainly makes good sense given the dense rainforest) but they also changed their tune, no longer bugling with that iconic, haunting call that resonates across the frosty parklands, lodgepole forests and granite peaks of the Rockies. Our visit to Daag coincided with height of the “roar.” It’s a sound that does not “belong,” but also feels so fitting, as though giving voice to the thick ferny jungle of that unpeopled wilderness. Deep, guttural, plaintive and haunting (in their own way) – their roars echo across the still water and ridiculously precipitous canyon walls. You can hear individual stags make their way up and down the steep shore, and we paddled Namo as stealthily as we could manage along the shore hoping for a glimpse, and though they often seemed very close, we never saw them. We could only imagine their antlered heads tilted back, belly’s trembling as they gave voice to the wilderness.~MS

There’s a 1 kilometer trail between Dagg and Doubtful Sound, so we set out (too late) to try to dash across, but only got halfway and had to turn back, both because of light and falling tide.
One of the many amazing things about the bush is that there are very few ‘pokey’ things. I am in the occasional habit of ‘greeting’ the ferns as I walk by, but I found one that didn’t want to be touched.



We had one day and night which was cloudy and rainy; the water became very brown with loads of fresh on top, heaps of forest debris floated around us and new, gushing waterfalls sprouted everywhere! Most folks agreed that these conditions were more the ‘norm’ and that we’d been having wild good fortune to experience a of almost non-stop glorious conditions.
Guess we’re playing music!


When the weather cleared, I went on a ‘playdate with nature’ hike across to Haulashore Cove/Doubtful Sound, while Marcus went out on Namo to perchance catch sight of the Wapiti which roared in ‘surround sound’ most of the time we were there!
Ok, wanna go have a close look?!
Seaweed on shore, looking so ET!

Last sight of Allora for a few hours.
Even a ‘dead’ tree stump is quite full of life.

The kōtukutuku, also known as ‘the tree with the peeling bark’ or Fuchsia, is one of the most easily recognisable trees in the New Zealand bush. I must have been hungry, because I saw artisan CRACKER!
Most of this short trail is in dense forest, but occasionally I’d pop out and see these peaks.

Too many years of berry bewareness to feel free enough to nibble these, however tempting!

Just seein’ if you’re paying attention!

Classic ‘Tarzan’ vines following their twisty, viney nature! And Spanish moss/Tillandsia usneoides is not a moss at all, but a bromeliad, which means it is in the same taxonomic family as pineapples and succulent house plants!

Although Spanish moss grows on trees, it is not a parasite. It doesn’t put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.

Known for it’s friendly, ‘cheet cheet’ call and it’s crazy flying antics, the Fantail or Pīwakawaka often follows another animal (and people) to capture insects. Time and time again, though, they acted as guides; when we were off track in the woods, they’d appear, chirping energetically, as if to say, ‘no … not that way, THIS way!!’ I learned to always follow them!


Some fungi fun: I haven’t had the time to research ID’s on most of these, so write me if you know and are keen to share?!

These ‘nurse logs’ are fallen trees which become garden beds for new life with the help of insects, microbes and fungi, eventually turning back into rich humus.

REALLY want to learn about this ‘web,’ which was considerably thicker than any spider web I’ve ever seen and the filaments looked to be made of the same ‘stuff’ as the mushroom?! Anyone?!

My very favorite find! In a process called, ‘gutturation,’ the mushroom will ‘weep’ excess pigmented moisture!!

Quite late by the time I got back to shore.

Marcus had dropped me off, so I hailed him on the handheld VHF to come retrieve me – thankfully he could get across the ‘bar’ in what amounted to no usable light.
Our red half way track and my green, very distracted by flora track. A 1 k hike turned into almost 6 round trip! I didn’t get any interesting pics from the Doubtful Sound side, but that’s our next Fiord, so there will be PLENTY!
Eagerly heading out of Dagg … Why? Because Doubtful is our next Sound and Wyatt is joining us there!!!! Allora scoots along with a bit of extra oomph!
Formations near the exit of Dagg Sound.
Wonderful little ‘nook.’
On the outside now, through the pass. Last look back at Dagg.






Vancouver Arm: Head of Bay, Third Cove, Stevens Cove, Breaksea/Te Puaitaha Sound – Fiordland.

Bathymetric chart of Vancouver Arm – gives an image of the size, shape and distribution of features underwater.
We just spent one quick night at the head of the bay in Vancouver Arm. We had plans in place to meet Wyatt in Doubtful Sound, 2 north of here, so we had to strategize our short stays with the weather predictions and what protection each anchorage might offer.
Third Cove Anchorage. We worked hard finding suitable depths to anchor in here and ended up dropping in 25 meters (83′), which is quite deep, but the mud bank at the head of the bay was also tough to see and the edge of it fluctuated, so all in all, challenging. Our ‘guidebooks’ didn’t say anything about where other ‘yachties’ would anchor. First impressions: amazing birdsong and echoes in this biggish bay!
I wonder if we were hideous even to the flora/fauna …?!
… ok, I feel better now. This flora is pretty ‘warty!’ We had heaps of fun checking out the very colorful intertidal zone. Started at higher tide, but it was dropping really fast, so we had to be sure Namo didn’t get stuck ‘high and dry.’ Not sure what these are, but they were ALL OVER!
You can probably imagine the smell that went along with this falling tide and exposed sea creatures?
Marcus found this one shell just sitting in this position. No others about.
Then we made it to the very spongy and lush forest. We’d been told there was a waterfall to be found, but we never found the ‘trailhead.’
No matter, there’s plenty of water and wonder right here!

The Audrey Hepburn of the plant world – playful and elegant, both.

These little ‘webs’ of water droplets were everywhere!

One version of an Umbrella Moss.
This whole area had a playful feel about it. I took a million pics, very sprite like and Marcus had the good sense to keep track of how we were going to actually make our way back to Allora. Gratitude on all counts.
Sticta Coronata.

Dr. Seuss land
A cello leaf.

NEED to put these in my INaturalist/ISeek app to find out what they are, besides so wonderful?!
Clever seed design!

Allora, free swinging in deep water, but staying put, thank goodness! (Imagine leaving your home for the afternoon and wondering if ‘she’ll’ still be there when you return?)

It seems to be an autumn thing that massive schools of Kahawai, Kingfish, and other predators chase the baitfish up to the heads of the sounds and gleefully spend their days slashing and crashing and feasting upon them. It starts at dawn and continues until dark. At completely unpredictable moments the water will suddenly boil with feeding fish only to disappear within a few moments. The first Kahawai I caught was with a spinning rig, which is well suited for frantic Hail Mary casts into the abyss. I will admit that catching that fish was closer to an accident than anything premeditated. One fish nearly chased the lure right into the boat. As we traveled through the fiords, the fairly constant surface action was nearly impossible to ignore, and sometimes the predators would use the boat to trap the bait and Allora would find herself at the center of the melee. Finally, at the head of Daag Sound I couldn’t stand it anymore; I rigged my 8 weight and propped it next to the dinghy ready to go at the next irresistible provocation. What ensued was pure madness. The fish would pop up, I would zoom over with the outboard roaring, then kill it as I coasted in, frantically start casting and get maybe one quick retrieve before the fish disappeared. As I zigged and zagged across the fiord, I’m probably lucky that we were certainly the only people then in Daag Sound so that no one arrived with white straight jacket and concerned expressions to intervene. Back and forth I dashed, tangling myself in my line, frustrated at the utter futility of stripping the fly back with the dinghy still moving forward. Once every tenth attempt, everything would work out, I’d even get in a second or third cast, and manage to get my fly to move fast enough to get some attention, and a slash maybe, a miss and back to the frantic game. I was exhausted and my shoulder was on fire by the time all of the crazy variables aligned and a willing fish slammed my fly and headed straight for the bottom of the Sound. The seriously outsized strength of that fish made me instantly regret picking my lighter 8 weight over my sturdy 9. In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to break the rod. What a relief it was to release that fish and release myself from any future notion of fly fishing for Kahawai. A River Runs Through It, it was not. ~MS

We let this Kahawai go since at that point, we weren’t even sure what it was! Turns out it would have been within regulation size to keep, but we already had a dinner plan in place and it always feels good to release them.
Cityscape in the rocks (a bit dystopian).
And mountains, too!
One lone dolphin came cruising through the anchorage and did a rather quick loop around us. We kept thinking there must be two because he’d go under and then come up much farther along than we’re used to seeing, but we never saw more than the one.
Moving from Third Cove to Stevens Cove!
We stopped to fill up Allora’s water tanks at a little floating hut which is used by fishermen during the season. Our watermaker worked fine in this mix of fresh and salt, but it’s always nice to get quick, free fills.
Another (power) boat queued up for a water fill after us so we got to talking and they shared a small Pāua (abalone) which they’d just harvested and described how to prepare it. I read that there’s a place in Hong Kong where they charge $2k per person for a Fiordland NZ Paua dinner! It was ALOT of work and yielded very little to massage this muscle into a source of protein! It would have been at least 5 years old.
The name wasn’t the only thing compelling about Stevens Cove. It was super close to the entrance/exit of Breaksea Sound, so we’d be poised for a quick transit up to Dagg Sound when ready. The only thing is that it’s such a tiny spot that we had to hope we’d fit in there! The opening can barely be seen in this picture near the turquoise water.
It was our trickiest maneuvering/anchoring to date, but we settled in to our little namesake anchorage quite sweetly. This is normally used by power boats/fishermen since it’s so close to outside and they squeeze 3 little boats in here.

There were these two ‘keyholes’ inside Stevens Cove where you could see the main Sound which would cover over at high tide and I could squeeze the kayak through, theoretically, but my kayaking happened at lower tide, so no go.
View of Allora from the Sound.
Time to go check out the ‘archipelago’ of nearby islands!
New forms to take in!

Tried to see this Chiton better, but the surge was quite strong and I really didn’t want to tip.
Then I just got into the abstract of it. I could feel myself shift from trying to make something ‘clear’ to allowing it to be simply light and color.

Shadow play.
The ocean is miraculous!

One of my favorite pics. See the green sea worm?! (Going to look that up, too!)

The water at sunset.
Preparing to slip away from Stevens Cove, the birds regaled us with some riotous farewell songs! Dagg Sound, here we come!


Broughton Arm, Breaksea/Te Puaitaha Sound, Captivating! – Fiordland.

Drying out the PRADA on Allora’s lifelines!
Moving from Wet Jacket Arm to Breaksea Sound.
Being at sea, on the sea, there is always a close and present awareness of the line which divides the landed world and the underwater universe, though normally, the waves demand our attention and keep that parallel universe well hidden, and away from our thoughts. The eerie sense of depth creeps in at odd moments when something reminds you of the rocky bottom and the multilayered world of fishes below. In tropical water sometimes the bottom is visible at enormous, ludicrous depths, as the time we motored into the Gambier on a glassy sea and Diana could see sharks clearly in the pass a hundred feet below us. But in Fiordland, the water is usually hundreds of feet deep within just a couple boat lengths away from the “shore.” The water is not murky but light barely penetrates. Stillness is legendary here, also the shimmering layer of freshwater floating atop the tide, that looks like heatwaves in the desert. You can peer straight down and see golden leaves tumbling in the current above the darkened depths. But most of the time, the Sounds keep their secrets well hidden and the water mirrors back the soaring peaks and luxuriant waterfalls and exuberant beach and fern forests, doubling the awe. As stunning as it is, the obvious trick of the mind is to delete the bottom half of the image as “merely” a repetition. Sometimes I had to be reminded to see it another way. Perhaps because she was photographing these landscapes, Diana learned to see these reflection even more vividly, to delight in the ubiquitous natural Rorschach.~MS
Neat that this stunning landscape so often gets a glimpse of itself!
Wile E. Coyote
One of the handful of times we were able to actually pull a sail out – too much or too little winds to work with.
We’re not in the islands anymore!
‘Real Journeys’ run tour boats through some of the fiords. They never stay put for long.
Approaching the ‘head of the bay,’ to anchor, we’d have to be really cautious about the typically steep sided, silty sandbank which gets created by the river outflow.

We were primed to love Broughton Arm. Tony, a New Zealand sailor we met in Tonga (from an Auckland sailboat building family) got there ahead of us and posted his impression, the humbling sense of privilege he felt to be in the remote presence of such mighty granite walls and peaks. “Paradise found!,” he exclaimed. It’s hard to think of a way to convey the heart sense of moving through pristine and unpeopled areas like this, the sense that goes beyond the imagery, the waterfalls, and magnificent trees, the wildlife. The sense of living stone and water and place. You look at one of the these peaks soaring above the the fiord continually stunned by the mass and energy represented there, and then by the bounty of life exuberantly, vividly greening those granite flanks. And water, water, water everywhere. ~MS

When the sun shines overhead, the sandbank (and its’ creatures – see the ray?) are super visible and too shallow for Allora’s 2m draft.
We found a deeper edge (50′) where we dropped our Australian made Sarca Excell anchor. Started with one shore line and added another later when the wind picked up.
The fog came flooding out of the canyon head early in the morning and I ran out (coffee in hand), jumped in Namo and started rowing into it to take some pics. Didn’t realize I was still in my warm fleece onesie and had no sandfly protection. Totally worth it.

The sun reached the highest peaks and it only morphed the fog into yet more beautiful iterations.

This is a close up from the lower left corner of that last photo!
And the last wisps were seen at 11:15!
Whitebait are eaten whole with the head, tail guts and the lot still intact – most often fried, the tiny, delicate nature of the fish make them a highly sought-after dish. We were generously given these and they were described as if they were a truffle, so I was hoping they’d taste like lobster!
Been vegetarians for a couple years, but pescatarians, really, since we live on the sea and can catch FRESH fish. These were only attempted because they were a gift.
RoShamBo: fish beats butter, sadly.
Prepared/Disguised as described by the local fishermen, in eggs, but they were a no go for me. Marcus ate them but said he wouldn’t walk across the street to get some more.
My kakak excursions were often 2-3 hours and almost a meditation with the slow movement and extreme focus on details. Instead of covering distance, I got into just looking closer and closer at EVERYTHING!