Tasman Sea and Nelson NZ 41:16.1S 174:01.3E

Blue Hound
Phil Marks & Rosy Jensen
Fri 20 Mar 2020 06:52

Lymington friends on their travels - Breezy and Lou - met us in Eden for supper before we left for NZ. Then there were a few repairs as we changed our sailplan from tradewind to NW European (gulp)!

Our passage across the Tasman Sea was challenging, wet and cold. After the first day motoring and the enjoyable wildlife (see earlier post) we were hit by gale force winds before we had completed the first 24 hours at sea. This set the trend for the next 12 days where we had strong winds and confused seas, a few down the companionway, and many across the fore and aft deck and finding gaps in the hatches.

During one manoeuvre the steering chain broke but fortunately Phil the engineer was at hand. The engine also played some tricks, but the sails held together.

Having arrived in New Zealand water we were scheduled to check into Picton, another 100 nm round Stephens Head, but an easterly gale made this impossible, so we sought shelter in Tasman Bay, where we loitered overnight as we were not allowed to anchor before clearing in.

A radio call from the authorities next morning (apparently we were a suspicious vessel, loitering overnight) allowed us to proceed to Nelson for check in. It’s a sizeable town (68,000 pop) where we have had an enjoyable week recovering, with some socialising. We were lucky to get in only 4 days before the borders were closed to foreign yachts - corona virus.

We spent an interesting and pleasant day with US sailing friends we met in Sicily, who now have a small holding where they breed their own meat and grow all their fruit and veg. Lunch was their 'home kill' beef and goat (no muscovy duck or chicken that day) and Dan's tremendous array of vegetables with 6 varieties of tomato.

Next day we were kindly invited to dinner by Richard and Jacqui, a couple of seasoned sailors we met at the Tasman Bay Cruising Club. We enjoyed New Zealand hospitality at their lovely home overlooking Tasman Bay.

We are now sailing leisurely on to Queen Charlottes Sound and Picton, a stage at a time as the wind is so changeable and the Cook Strait notorious for gales, strong tides and big seas (8 metre waves are not uncommon according to the pilot book).

Last evening we got our timing right for French Pass – 50 m wide and currents of up to 8 knots – just after slack water and saving a likely boisterous passage of 45 miles round Stephens Island.

Today I caught a 2 kg Kahawai (Australian Salmon) – beats the Hurst Narrows mackerel although the Kahawai do not make the best of eating – we’ll see tonight (I checked the web for recipes)! Phil is not excited about the prospect.

Tonight we are anchored in the lee of Alligator Head ( 40:59.1S 174:09.4E ). We’ve been without an echo sounder for a few days which certainly makes anchoring interesting, but Phil’s fixed that now – phew!

The weather is pleasant – sunny but windy – and quite cool with 3-4 layers of clothing required in the day at sea. I went shopping for extra layers (not having expected the cold) and last night I dreamed about a heater!

Plenty of wildlife to report but I'll do that in a separate post - watch this space!