ARRIVAL MILFORD SOUND

Very early on Friday morning I weighed anchor and sailed out of Anchorage Cove, the outgoing tide and stream from the George River helping us on our way.  A slight S’ly breeze barely filled the sails and we slowly sailed out of George Sound to the sea.  The sky was clear, the stars shining bright, the breeze carrying earthy smells from the land.

Before three in the morning we were clear of George Sound and looking forward to a nice sail up the coast on the predicted twenty knot S’Wly wind.  The wind didn’t arrive, it was a hoax.  With light and variable winds we slowly closed the distance to Milford Sound.  Apart from lack of wind the weather was brilliant, the coastal scenery stunning.

Truce was accompanied by two Albatross all the way.  Often, they landed close by and followed, paddling fast to keep up, when they dropped astern too far they took off again, circled a few times and then landed close by to repeat the process again.  Albatross are wonderful birds and I never tire of watching them.  In all the time I have observed them I have never seen them eat.  They must eat a lot, they are large birds.  But when they do it, I have no idea.

Approaching Milford Sound. Photo Ray Penson
Approaching Milford Sound. Photo Ray Penson

Sailing into Milford sound was a long process in light, almost nothing wind.  Finally, we were anchored in Anita Bay with a sternline ashore just before eight in the evening.  Anita Bay is not a good anchorage, just acceptable for a temporary stop in calm conditions.  The bay is littered with cray pots and finding a clear spot to sail into and drop anchor was a challenge.

The night at Anita bay was calm enough but uneasy as the swell found its way in and strong currents circulated.  In the morning I retrieved the sternline and picked up the anchor only to discover that I had somehow snagged a craypot around the prop.  I dropped anchor again to hold us in position and tried to free the line from the prop, this proved impossible with the strong currents running.  I had to cut the line free and then secure an old fender to the line so the fisherman could retrieve his pot.  I also managed to retrieve his float and attach that as well.

With the excitement over I sailed out of Anita Bay, happy to be clear of the place.  The sail up Milford Sound was a slow process until a strong sea breeze set in, we were soon sailing fast through spectacular scenery, the tourist boats heading over and passing close by as a yacht sailing in the sound is apparently a rare sight.

I sailed through the narrow channel into Deepwater basin where I tried to find a berth.  Nobody seemed interested in talking to me.  I anchored in a shallow spot and went ashore to find someone who could help with a berth.  Eventually I was advised to pick up one of the tourist boat moorings.  Picking up the anchor again I sailed across and picked up a mooring as directed on a very large steel buoy with a black rubber fender around it.

With the currents in Deepwater Basin and the fickle winds Truce would not lie quietly at the mooring, she sailed up each side of the mooring and then managed to get the mooring line between the keel and skeg.  The second time in the same day she has managed this trick, what a clever yacht.

After untangling the mooring line from under the boat I went ashore again and found someone with a phone connection.  There is no cell phone coverage here but the tour groups have access to a phone network.  I called Ngozi and let her know where I was.  Of course, she already knew as she has been following me on AIS with Marine Traffic.

Back on board I settled in for a good nights rest, happy and secure on a mooring.

The following day Truce had black marks down both sides of the hull where she was riding up on the mooring buoy during the night.  Its only cosmetic but looks nasty.

Not wishing to remain on the big mooring I sailed across to another mooring and secured to it.  This seemed better but I had to spend some time experimenting with the line length to make sure we could not sail over the mooring and get the rope trapped again.  Once happy with the mooring I took the dinghy ashore and walked up a track besides the Cleddau River to the Milford Lodge.  The Lodge has internet for sale and a Venison Sandwich for lunch.  Nice to have red meat again and the venison was excellent.

In the late afternoon when I returned to Deepwater Basin there was another yacht at anchor.  Turned to be Phil, Lynda Christieson on the yacht Windora, quite a well-known yacht.  They knew the previous owners of Truce and we had a good chat.  Then I returned to Truce for some baking and supper.

During the evening the wind picked up as a front is passing through.  By three in the morning the wind was starting to howl, the rain was lashing down.  I got up and removed the outboard and oars from the dinghy.  A refreshing task that blew the cobwebs away.  In daylight the scene was spectacular, wind was bombing down the steep sides of Deepwater Basin in huge gusts.  Waterfalls had sprouted everywhere, gushing down the rock faces adjacent to the boat.  The noise was tremendous.

Rain Brings Cascading Waterfalls. Photo Ray Penson
Rain Brings Cascading Waterfalls. Photo Ray Penson

Thankfully, in the early afternoon the wind and rain had eased off sufficiently for another trip ashore.  The barometer had bottomed out and was starting to rise again, I figured there would be a few hours until the backside of the front came along.  I walked up to the Milford Lodge, had a coffee and snack and used the internet.  I returned to Truce as the wind was starting to pick up again.

I settled back onboard and lit the fire.  Warm and cosy in the cabin and waited for the weather to pass.

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