The 05:33 morning forecast predicted the 25 knot S’ly breeze would die out in the morning leaving variable 10 knots behind in the afternoon. I wanted to pick up the diminishing S’ly breeze (not the 25 knots that can mean 30 knot gusts) to take me around the south and east of Banks Peninsular.
I sat at anchor and tried to figure when the wind would start to reduce. By nine I could wait no longer, the anchor was stowed and we were on our way down Akaroa Harbour into a stiff S’ly wind and short chop. The wind didn’t decrease and the short sea became deeper as we motored down harbour, shipping spray over the bow, at one point were reduced to 3.5 knots on full power. I reasoned that the harbour was acting like a wind funnel and outside it had to be better. It took an hour and a half to cover the six miles out of the harbour.
Once outside the harbour the sea was very rough, the wind not strong enough to keep the sails full as Truce was rolling and pitching wildly. I hand steered as we motored around the south of banks Peninsular, it was a wild ride. Once on the east Coast the sea evened out a bit and a Southerly breeze started to fill in. By one in the afternoon we were sailing again and I was able to engage the wind vane and take a break.
Hectors Dolphins were swimming around as we went down Akaroa harbour and kept showing up all along the route today. Usually I just see one or two at a time, they don’t show off much. But, this afternoon I saw three for the first time and they performed a perfectly executed synchronised jump out of the water for me. The Albatross were also around today, giving an imperious look down as they glide past.
As we continued around Banks Peninsular a strange thing happened, the wind continued to blow from the south and started gusting down from the hills and inlets between. It wasn’t forecast but I wasn’t complaining as we sped along on a reach, alternating between 3 and 8 knots depending on the gusts. The wind was too gusty and unpredictable in direction for the wind vane so I hand steered and adjusted sails as we went along. By the time the wind died we were only eight miles short of our overnight stop.
I motored the remaining distance into Port Levy and at six in the evening anchored in the South East corner. A position I hoped would provide shelter from the N’Ely gale forecast for tomorrow.
Today’s run was only forty nine miles but it was pretty full on and hard work all the way. I guess that’s coastal sailing in New Zealand, lots of variety.
Port Levy is a quiet place, a few mussel farms on the way in and a small settlement at the end of the bay, with a few more remote houses dotted around the hills overlooking the harbour. Just ashore from where I am anchored a picnic table has been set up on the shore. A great spot in nice weather with wonderful scenery. Not sure I will get the weather or chance to use it.
There is of course no telephone signal here, I am cut off from the world for a while. Fortunately I can still receive the weather forecast on VHF radio.
I will sit here and wait out the N’Ely expected tomorrow and look for the next window to sail north.