Stuck in Port Levy in a N’ly gale was depressing and I was feeling a bit despondent.  I have given myself a mental talking to, snap out of it and harden up.

After studying the weather, it looked like I had an opportunity to head for Wellington or the Marlborough Sounds.  The forecast indicated I would have a 15 knot S’ly first, followed by light airs, then a 15 knot N’ly, then a 15 knot S’ly followed by a 15 knot N’ly before a 50 knot S’ly storm.  The weather is all over the place thanks to fronts, troughs and ridges bombarding the South Island.  The plan was to arrive somewhere safely and beat the S’ly storm.

I motored out of Port Levy on Sunday morning.  A couple of miles out the autopilot gave up, expired, RIP.  Without autopilot the trip was going to be tedious, I don’t like steering.

The S’ly wind didn’t arrive and I motored into the early evening before an easterly wind sprang up about twenty-five miles before Kaikoura.  The east wind became a S’Ely and we had great sailing, wind vane doing great work, until one o’clock Monday morning when the wind died away.  Then back to motoring and hand steering again.

The forecast was now predicting 35 knot N’ly winds in Cook Strait, headwinds of course.  The 50 knot S’ly storm was also creeping up behind us.  All morning we motored in light airs and by lunch time we had rounded Cape Campbell into Cook Strait.  I hoped I had beaten the 35 knot N’ly in Cook Strait, but soon the wind started building, it was going to be a hard upwind slog.  With triple reefed main and staysail we started to make progress but the southerly stream out of Cook Strait was setting us down to leeward.  Motor sailing helped us point higher but not enough.  Down came the staysail and we motored at full RPM into the sea and wind towards our destination.  Hectors Dolphins came and played around Truce, on one occasion there were about six putting on a show.

It took seven hours to motor the final twenty-six miles into Port Underwood where I anchored in Oyster Bay.  The peace and quiet when I shut the engine off was deafening.  I was feeling quite tired, lots of hand steering, although I had managed to use the wind vane a bit when motoring, quite a delicate balancing act.

Quick noodles for dinner and a beer followed by a deep sleep.

This morning was clear and cold, The sun soon warmed things up, a beautiful day.  Today the news is all about the lockdown in New Zealand to try and contain coronavirus spread.  In the afternoon I went ashore and practiced my first social distancing with a guy I met on the jetty.  Quite weird, standing in the middle of nowhere talking to someone from a distance, no hand shaking of course.

Sunrise in Oyster Bay Photo Ray Penson
Sunrise in Oyster Bay Photo Ray Penson

I think I will stay in Oyster Bay for another day.  I want to try and get some diesel tomorrow and top up fresh water from a tap on shore.  Then I plan to head around into the Marlborough Sounds and up to D’Urville Island.  It’s pretty remote up there and social distancing should be hard not to achieve.

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