EXPLORING PATERSON INLET

Monday, properly attired, we stepped ashore again on Ulva Island, this time for an explore. As soon as we landed a cheeky Weka popped out the bush to welcome us, pecking around our feet. 

Weka. Photo Ray Penson
Weka. Photo Ray Penson

The weather was good, we decided to walk around the island.  The tracks are very well maintained and clearly signposted so not much possibility to get lost.  The birdlife on this predator free island is prolific, the birds mostly ignore the humans around them and carry on their activities.  The Black Robins for some reason seem to like interacting with humans and pop out of the bush as soon as you approach.  They will hop around you without any fear.

Black Robin. Photo Ray Penson
Black Robin. Photo Ray Penson

After our leisurely visit to Ulva Island we headed over to Kaipipi Inlet for an overnight anchorage.  This is a good sheltered all weather anchorage but really not that attractive scenery wise.  Late in the afternoon the heavens opened, it rained, serious solid rain.  We hunkered down and had the Dickinson heater on during the evening, it was cloudy, wet and cold.  How quickly the weather can change in this place.

Tuesday continued with persistent rain, although not as serious as the previous evening.  After a morning restricted to the cabin we decided to break free and walk to Halfmoon Bay and the town of Oban.  Midday saw us ashore with raingear and walking boots, heading down the track towards Oban. 

Track sign to Halfmoon Bay. Photo Ngozi Penson
Track sign to Halfmoon Bay. Photo Ngozi Penson

The track was well formed but the rain had turned parts of it into a mud fest.  By early afternoon we wandered into Oban, wet and bedraggled.  We visited the four square store to stock up on nut bars for the return trip and bought a fresh loaf of bread.  Then we headed over to the bar at the South Seas Hotel for warmth and refreshment.  Suitably fortified we headed back towards Kaipipi Bay along the track, finally trudging into Kaipipi Bay just before six in the evening.  Once back on board the Dickinson heater was flashed up again and a hot meal prepared.  It had been a good day out and far better than sitting waiting for the rain to stop.

Wednesday opened with a slight drizzle but quickly cleared to a bright sunny morning.  Today we headed out of Kaipipi Bay and across to Millars Beach.  This is a pretty sandy beach with the added attraction of a swing rope that Ngozi took advantage of. 

Traditional Beach Sport. Photo Ray Penson
Traditional Beach Sport. Photo Ray Penson

From this beach there is access through to the site of an old Norwegian dockyard for  repairing whaling ships, the Kaipipi Dockyard.  This site was once a bustling hive of activity, with full dockyard facilities for  repairing steam powered chase boats for the whaling industry.  This place had now been designated an Archaeological site and is protected.  I found the site fascinating.  There are bits of old shipyard scattered around, the old slipway, steam boiler, propellers and old machinery.  The self-belief and resourcefulness of those who built and worked at the site is almost beyond our modern comprehension.

Kaipipi Shipyard Plaque. Photo Ray Penson
Kaipipi Shipyard Plaque. Photo Ray Penson

 

Propellers on the beach. Photo Ray Penson
Propellers on the beach. Photo Ray Penson

 

Propellers in the bush. Photo Ray Penson
Propellers in the bush. Photo Ray Penson

The forecast for the evening was not good with strong westerly winds forecast.  We anchored in Little Kaipipi Bay, thinking it may be sheltered enough for the upcoming winds.  After a couple of hours we decided to move back into Kaipipi Bay proper before darkness where we knew we could get good shelter and holding for the anchor.  On the way into the Bay Ngozi saw deer on the foreshore, they disappeared as we approached.  We anchored and made sure the anchor was well dug in and then paid out more chain to give us a nice long scope.  As the saying goes, ‘chains no good in the locker when it turns nasty’.

All evening and the next day it blew hard from the west as a storm warning was issued for Thursday.  We were happy to have decided to come back to this anchorage, however drab it may be.  On Thursday morning the boats barometer was standing at 980 Mb, by late evening it had risen to 1000Mb as the intense low to the south of us moved away to the east.  By midnight the winds were a mild 10 to 15 knots.

Friday morning opened fine, cloudy and calm.  Everything on deck was sparkling clean but soaking wet.  The dinghy was half full of water, wonderful for a shower if it was not so cold.  Today was definitely time to say goodbye to Kaipipi Bay and head for new grounds.  In calm waters we motored around to Halfmoon Bay.  We were lucky to be offered a mooring just off the main wharf by Fluff, a fine gentleman who runs Leask Bay Charters.  I had the pleasure of going on one of his fishing charters with Steven a few years ago where we caught and ate our first Blue Cod.

Truce on Mooring at Halfmoon Bay. Photo Ray Penson
Truce on Mooring at Halfmoon Bay. Photo Ray Penson

Once on the mooring we had some boat business to complete, refilling gas bottles, topping up diesel jerry cans and water jugs before we could relax.  With the chores out of the way and happy we were topped up for the next part of the voyage we relaxed and did very little around Oban in glorious sunshine and warm weather.  The ghastly weather of the past days eradicated from memory.

In the evening we dined at the South Seas Hotel and had an excellent meal.  It seems the further south we get the better the food seems to gets.  We ate and drank too much of course, returning to Truce in the evening well satisfied and headed for an excellent night’s sleep.

We have been thinking about our next moves.  I am quite keen to move further south and have a look into Port Adventure, Lords River and Port Pegasus.  However, our time is limited, Ngozi has to return to Auckland by the end of February and I would like us to visit Fiordland together.  Also there seems to be a weather window opening up for the trip westward across the Foveaux Strait to Preservation Inlet and we well know weather windows should not be squandered in this part of the world.  We shall see.

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