WESTPORT TO TARAKOHE

After a wonderful restful sleep overnight I awoke to a nice calm day alongside in Westport.  It took a couple of minutes to get my bearings and figure out where I was.  I had breakfast and coffee and then went ashore to organise some diesel fuel.

The fuel dock was occupied by fishing boats discharging their catch and restocking.  The jetty was typical fishing boat standard and I didn’t fancy putting Truce alongside the exposed piles to take fuel.  Instead, I opted for getting fuel in jerry cans from the nearby gas station.  By mid-morning I had sufficient diesel on board to get me around the top of the South Island.

I met up again with the harbourmaster and he informed me of the upcoming installation of floating pontoons to accommodate leisure vessels.  The pontoons will have proper security and be serviced with electricity and fresh water.  There will also be showers and toilets ashore.  This will be a huge improvement to the facilities in Westport for visiting vessels, no more scruffy fishing boat pens.  Westport will also be a convenient stop between Milford Sound and the Nelson area.  Just be aware that its not a place to go for shelter when the weather is already bad.

Careful study of the weather indicated that a window was available to get around Farewell Spit between one S’Ely flow and the next.  If I missed this opportunity the wind could be blowing from the north down the west coast for a few days.  I took the opportunity and departed from Westport early afternoon.  Destination Tarakohe Harbour in Golden Bay.

With Mr. Yanmar powering us along we made good time up the coast.  The engine seems to have healed itself but I am still cautious and super sensitive to any change in engine sound.  All afternoon and evening we motored.  The following morning we were still under diesel power on a flat calm sea.  By noon we had eventually reached the end of Farewell Spit, it seemed to take forever!  Once past the shallow end to the Spit we turned to the south for the last couple of hours run down to Port Tarakohe.

By Three in the afternoon we were secure alongside in Tarakohe Harbour.  Finally the engine was off and I could relax, cracking a beer in the lovely afternoon sunshine.  I was in T Shirt and shorts, its been a long time since I have been this warm and able to wear summer gear.

As I relaxed in the cockpit I had a look around at the other boats berthed at the dock.  I saw a boat that looked familiar and on closer inspection was surprised to see it was our old yacht ‘Rangatira’.  She looked good and I wandered over to have a closer look.  The new owner, Richard, was on board, he welcomed me with the words ‘Good afternoon Mr. Penson’.  He had been expecting me as he was tracking Truce around Farewell Spit on AIS.  We had a good chat, it was great to see the old boat in good hands and looking well, she is a good Kauri planked boat and will be around for many more years to come I expect.

I could not relax for too long, Ngozi is arriving tomorrow afternoon.  There is a stack of laundry to process and my personal presentation and hygiene needs a bit of work after almost a month without showers.

By late afternoon I was well on with the laundry, had a haircut and shower, almost presentable again.  In the evening a few mussel farm boats came into Tarakohe.  These are the front runners of many more as the mussel industry offshore in Golden Bay is being expanded significantly.

Tarakohe port is an interesting place.  Originally built adjacent to a limestone deposit to produce cement for the growing infrastructure needs of New Zealand.  The cement company ‘Golden Bay Cement’ in its heyday produced vast quantities of cement for the Manapouri Hydro Scheme.  One of the ships, a purpose built cement carrier called the ‘Ligar Bay’ hauled cement from Tarakohe around to Deep Cove in Fiordland for the hydro scheme.  Ligar Bay is a small bay adjacent to Tarakohe Harbour.

The Ligar Bay was built is 1964 by Henry Robb in Leith, Scotland.  She was later sold to F.T. Everard & Sons in the UK, a company I worked for many years ago coasting around the UK.  Anyway, in 1985 I delivered the Ligar Bay from London to St. Martin in the Caribbean for the West Indies Cement Carriers, a small company run from a motor yacht anchored offshore somewhere between the Dutch and French jurisdictions.

The trip on the Ligar Bay is particularly memorable as we hit a nasty storm in the Atlantic after leaving the UK.  Our only communication was an old Sailor SSB radio that chose to pack up as the weather worsened.  I spent twenty-four hours figuring out how to fix it before successfully contacting Miami Radio, callsign WOM in those days.  I was not certain we were going to make it, the ship was well loaded and struggled in the seas, I just wanted to get a message off so someone knew where we were.

Fortunately, we made it through the storm and put into Madera for fuel and wine.  The remaining trip to the Caribbean was peaceful and cheerful.  Henry Robb, long since closed down, was a good shipbuilder.  My first command in the North Sea was a Norwegian design built by Henry Robb.  Built like a brick outhouse and never any concern whatever the weather.

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