ARRIVAL PRESERVATION INLET

Monday and moving day.  The weather forecast looks favourable for a move north across the Foveaux Strait to Fiordland.  The weather models all agree and the Met Service backs it up, although they do have a gale forecast for the northern sea area Foveaux.

After a final visit to the pub in Oban and a walk ashore we steamed out of Paterson Inlet at sunset and quickly had sail on a fresh S’ly breeze.  With triple reefed main and yankee we were romping along in calm waters up the coast at 7 knots, occasionally hitting 9 knots in the puffs.  A great start to the trip, for once we had that rare wind, ‘the right direction and the right strength’.

Of course, the wind died shortly after midnight and we were motoring by one in the morning for a couple of hours in a sloppy sea.  The wind filled in again and made sailing difficult as it was the ‘not enough’ wind.  Eventually we got settled on a course with the yankee poled out to starboard and the main lashed out to port.  The logbook records ‘rolling like hell’ so it must have been uncomfortable for a while.

By sunrise there was a steadily building breeze from the SE, we dropped the mainsail as the wind increased and continued under the poled out yankee alone, making good speed and much steadier.  The wind continued to build, the seas increased and by mid-morning we were surging along with half reefed yankee, averaging over 7 knots.  Very nice sailing in sunshine and sparkling waves.

Rounding Puysegur light and entering Preservation Inlet was exciting.  The wind was now shrieking at 40 knots, with just a small scrap of yankee we were flying along, Mickey still in control although the windvane was fluttering horribly in the strong wind.  As we looked ahead at the Otago Retreat entrance to Preservation Inlet all we could see was a line of breaking surf.  This was quite disconcerting, I wondered if the narrow entrance could be untenable in this weather.  My plan B was to haul around to the north and enter Preservation by the wider channel north of Coal Island.

As we approached closer the entrance to Otago Retreat became obvious with the heavily breaking water to our starboard side.  Just after 14:00 we entered the calm waters of Otago Retreat; we had arrived in preservation Inlet.  It had been an exciting ride in, Puysegur point doesn’t have the reputation as the windiest place in New Zealand for nothing.

Entering the calm of Otago Retreat. Photo Ray Penson
Entering the calm of Otago Retreat. Photo Ray Penson

An hour later we were anchored in Cuttle Cove and settling down with a cold beer or two.  The trip across the Foveaux Strait had taken seventeen hours, I was happy to have crossed this notorious stretch of water in good time.  We have now turned the corner and will be heading north again, up the West Coast.

Heading to Cuttle Cove. Photo Ngozi Penson
Heading to Cuttle Cove. Photo Ngozi Penson

Next we will start to thread our way north through the sounds, taking the coastal hops between the sounds as weather permits.

Ngozi has eaten the Pigfish and declared it excellent, I am not so sure and will wait to see any effects it may have on her before trying it myself.

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