Sunday 7th March and the forecast is good for sailing up the coast, a good S,Wly breeze of thirty knots and easing to fifteen later. At six in the evening I let go the mooring and departed the anchorage in Precipice Cove. This is an excellent anchorage with a good strong permanent line rigged to Macdonell Island to secure alongside. Very sheltered, it would be good for storm conditions, one of the best anchorages in Fiordland.
Thirty minutes later as we were happily motoring along Bradshaw Sound, in flat calm, with not a care in the world, Mr. Yanmar emitted a terrible and alarming knocking noise. I shut the engine down and checked over the side to see if anything had fouled the propeller, it was clear. I started up again and the noise was still there, now smoke was coming out the exhaust. I shut down again and investigated. Nothing seemed obviously wrong. Whatever, it’s not something I can fix now. If I use the engine there is a likelihood of causing (more) serious damage, so its sailing only from now on until the engine is fixed.
Unfortunately, it was absolutely mirror calm, sailing was a slow business. Water is too deep to anchor and wait for some breeze. We ghosted through the night trying to escape Bradshaw and later Thompson Sounds. Very frustrating to know that there was good breeze outside the sound just a few miles away. Eventually, at seven in the morning, some thirteen hours after leaving Precipice Cove, we cleared the entrance to Thompson Sound. As we ghosted out of the sound the rocks off Sharks Head looked particularly menacing to leeward before we picked up a light breeze, heading further offshore to clear the rugged coast.
The wind offshore was good and steady fifteen to twenty knots but the sea still rough. Sailing up the coast was excellent with the wind astern. Not our best point of sail but I have found that with the yankee poled out and the reefed main lashed out on the opposite side we do very well. Though its downwind, windvane Mickey can steer comfortably in these conditions. I use some bungee on the tiller to prevent it swinging too much as we roll down the swells. We romped along, relieved to be free and sailing again. I even had a couple of cat naps as we went along with Mickey in charge.
The sky is still stubbornly overcast but at least no rain offshore. I contacted Carol (A very helpful lady) at Fiordland Fishermans Radio, she passed a message onto Ngozi to let her know where I was.
At one on Monday afternoon we rounded into George Sound, the sun came out and the wind disappeared. Wonderful, the first proper sun we have seen since entering Doubtful Sound eight days ago. I peeled off layers of clothing, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun. Power trickled into the batteries from the solar panels, I switched on the fridge to ensure the beer was cold for arrival.
Inside George Sound it was good motorboat weather. The sail up to Anchorage Cove took nearly four hours to cover the six miles. A sea breeze wafting in eventually to help us along. There are two other more protected anchorages further up George Sound that would be easy to reach with a motor but I want to avoid hours trying to sail out of a possibly windless sound if I can.
Once anchored I cracked a nice cold beer, it drained away into my body like a sponge, I quickly needed to crack a second. It had been a long wearisome day.
Tomorrow N’ly winds are forecast and strong S’ly on Wednesday and Thursday with rough seas. I may take the S’ly the following day to move up to Milford Sound. In the meantime, I will enjoy George Sound and read the Yanmar engine manual.