MAGICAL STEWART ISLAND

Thursday 4th February, evening weather forecast indicated good winds for sailing to Stewart island.  The last few miles before Stewart Island showed light winds so I expected we may have to motor to complete the trip.  But no time to waste, the dinghy was stowed on deck and everything made ready for an evening departure.  I decided to go in the last of the daylight out to Taiaroa Head and make the turn southwards just before dark.  We had to buck the last of the incoming tide but it seemed the right thing to do.

We let go from the mooring buoy just after eight and headed out, it felt good to be moving again and exciting to be on the last leg of our journey south.  At ten in the evening we were around Taiaroa head and headed south, motoring south in a lumpy sea and no wind.  Gradually the wind filled in and half an hour later the engine was off, we were sailing slowly south with a light N’Ely wind.  By midnight the wind had dropped and could barely fill the sails that slatted back and forth as we rolled in a lumpy sea.  Frustrating.

By four in the morning a better breeze had built up and I had the Yankee poled out to starboard and the main with three reefs lashed out to port.  Wing on wing we sailed, the breeze gradually building to the forecast 20 knots.  All morning the breeze built and by noon I struck the main as we were getting overpowered, with just the Yankee poled out we were averaging over 7 knots in sparkling seas and spectacular scenery on the coast.  By 18:00 the wind was blowing hard and with the Yankee half furled we were hitting over 8 knots and surfing down the building seas.  Exhilarating sailing, but I really didn’t want any more wind.

As we approached Stewart Island the swells built up with breaking tops, coming from astern.  No doubt the shallow water of the Foveaux Strait and east going tide contributed to the turmoil.  Mickey was working overtime and held a good course as we surfed down the swells and held us up from broaching.  Stark Bros in Lyttelton has done a great job on the repairs, thank you.

Just before midnight we turned down to Paterson Inlet and entered calm waters.  The wind had taken us all the way, the light winds predicted didn’t arrive.  In complete darkness I motored past Ulva Island and anchored in Jacky lee Bay.  Engine off and complete silence, I was happy to have completed this part of the journey.   Twenty-six hours from Taiaroa head to Paterson Inlet was very good going considering the slow start.  Ngozi handed me a beer, I am not sure I finished it before falling into a deep sleep.

Truce anchored at Glory Cove, Paterson Inlet. Photo Ray Penson
Truce anchored at Glory Cove, Paterson Inlet. Photo Ray Penson

Saturday 6th February and a lazy morning and a late breakfast, brunch really, eggs, beans, tomatoes, toast and the works with fresh coffee.  Paterson Inlet was tranquil and majestic, a feast for the eyes.  Early afternoon we caught some Blue Cod for dinner on the way down to Glory Cove to anchor for the night.  Once anchored we took a trip ashore for a walk and gathered some mussels.  In the evening we had mussels and a feast of Blue Cod.  To cap off a great day we had sundowners in the cockpit in the warmth of the setting sun.  Once the sun sets it gets chilly very quickly, requiring a retreat to the cabin.

Sunday 7th February and more good calm weather.  We took the dinghy ashore and walked through the bush to Ocean Beach.  A beautiful wild beach, we watched a sealion messing around in the surf.  Kiwi are reported to walk on the beach at night foraging for food.

Ocean Beach. Photo Ray Penson
Ocean Beach. Photo Ray Penson

After returning to Truce and lunch we headed over to Ulva Island, stopping on the way to have a look into a small bay known as Sailors Rest.  This bay is a very protected anchorage with stern lines rigged ashore for those times it does blow hard.  At Ulva Island we anchored in Sydney Cove and took a dinghy ride ashore.  Ulva Island is a predator free environment and birdlife is abundant, as soon as we landed a nosy Weka came up to us and checked us out.

The Cove, Ulva Island. Photo Ray Penson
The Cove, Ulva Island. Photo Ray Penson

We realised that our boat shoes were not suitable for the long walk around the island, so we postponed that event for tomorrow.  Instead, we walked along the beach, relaxed and had a cold beer, reflecting on the scenery and the magic of this place.

Sydney Cove and refreshment, Ulva Island. Photo Ray Penson
Sydney Cove and refreshment, Ulva Island. Photo Ray Penson

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