Marlborough Sounds 41:16.0S, 174:02.3E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 5 Feb 2022 09:26

The Marlborough Sounds are a series of sea drowned valleys, the main sounds being Pelorus Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound. They are steep sided, wooded with numerous bays, they are also deep so we are using moorings rather than trying to find anchorages. The local cruising clubs have about 100 moorings in the sounds which will hold between one and five boats, as members of Mana Cruising Club we can use these moorings. Our routes around the sounds take into account the mooring positions and the protection we need from the wind.

Having entered Pelorus Sound we were making our way to Havelock one of the two places in the area where it is posssible to restock with food. Havelock is a small town with a large shell fish industry, the marine farms which are found all round Pelorus Sound produce large quantities of Green Lipped Mussels.

Pelorus Sound, Havelock is bottom left and Tennyson Inlet top left. Our various stops.

We had arranged a marina berth for a couple of days so moved to Putanui point mooring to give us a short passage into Havelock, the entry channel almost dries at low water so we have to go in on a rising tide. This mooring also gave us access to a walking track, the first shore access we had found in the sounds where a lot of the shore above the HW mark is private.

View North from the Putanui Ridge

Havelock marina has very easy access to the town with its small supermarket and various eateries, mainly closed in the evenings due to the fall in tourist trade caused by Covid restrictions. The Captain’s Daughter public house was open and we had a good supper of Fish and Chips there, the Green Lipped Mussels looked amazing but neither of us are really into shellfish, it always seems a lot of trouble just to get a small amount of protein.

Looking out of Maori Bay. We had to come in around the marine farm, a series of buoys from which strings of mussels hang and grow.

Moving on from Havelock we next wanted to visit Tennyson Inlet said to be a particularly beautiful area, so leaving at about HW we made our way out into Pelorus Sound again and spent nights in Long Bay (very small, but super bird song and a short walk available), Maori Bay, Stafford Bay, Waitata Bay and then when the conditions suited Deep Bay in Tennyson Inlet. Every night that we have spent on mooring buoys we have been on our own, there seem to be very few boats around at the moment, school summer holidays are over but even the weekends seem quiet.

Serenity moored in Long Bay with about a metre of water under the keel at low water, and it felt like you could reach out and touch the bushes

Deep Bay is situated between two bays easily accessed by road, with launching ramps, so these attract people with small motor boats, canoes, paddleboards and jet skis, we saw very few in our bay. There is a coastal track here which we were able to walk in both directions to Elaine bay one day and Penzance Bay the next, a couple of hours of exercise each day. It would have been nice to swim here but the water seemed quite dirty, closer inspection showed some of the cloudiness to be small jelly fish so perhaps this is a jellyfish spawning area! Also, at night there was a lot of phosphorescence in the water.

Penzance Bay was a popular spot with families in boats and on paddleboards

Looking out to Pelorus Sound from the walking track in Tennyson Inlet


On to Queen Charlotte Sound

There was a forecast for severe weather approaching down through the Tasman with gusts of up to 40 knots and days of heavy rain. We had plenty of warning of this and had to decide where to go and sit through it. We decided we would rather be in a marina at this time than trusting to anchor or moorings, it was time to move on round to Queen Charlotte Sound. We were able to book two nights in Picton and then five nights just round the corner in Waikawa Marina. Going into Picton, which is a larger town than Havelock and the ferry port for the Cook Strait crossing meant it would be easy to top up supplies, Waikawa Marina is just four miles from Picton by road but has no food shops nearby.

The route to Picton means going out of the sounds around Forsyth Island, Alligator Head and Jackson Point. We stopped overnight in Ketu bay (1), Hickoekoea Bay (3) and Kaipakirikiri Bay (4)

Leaving Tennyson Inlet we had the wind on the nose so slowly tacked out, as is typical in these waters, with high hills around, the wind keeps changing direction as it funnels down the valleys and along the sounds making it quite unpredictable but it was a great passage to Ketu Bay where, with the wind forecast to go from NE to SE overnight, we picked up a mooring in the SE corner. The wind of course then gusted down the hillside and gave us a noisy night. By morning we were ready to move on the short distance to Hikoekoea Bay and a very sheltered mooring in a very open bay. Luke and Amy on yacht Crusoe were on one of the moorings here, we met them in Homestead Bay when we first arrived in the sounds, and we were able to catch up with their experiences round D’Urville Island. We had a very peaceful night here and enjoyed a swim in the warm clean water, Tuesday was likely to be 30+ miles of motoring in light winds round Cape Jackson, where you pass between a small island with a lighthouse on it and the mainland. The tide can reach 4 knots through this gap with disturbed water so timing is critical.

A seal washing his whiskers alongside us in Hikoekoea Bay 

The tide turned fair at Cape Jackson at about 4pm so it was a bit of a lazy morning and we left after lunch. The wind was light but useable and we actually sailed all the way into Queen Charlotte Sound making good speed. We passed Cape Jackson about an hour before slack water but there was no disturbance worth worrying about. The wind picked up in the sound and we were quite soon having to shorten sail, with such variable winds we motored the last 10 miles to moor in Kaipakirikiri Bay.

Wednesday we moved the short distance into Picton and moored on a pontoon very close to town. Mark, the marina manager was very helpful, taking our lines as we arrived in blustery winds. After two days here, we have now moved to Waikawa Marina to wait out the forecast 40 knots of wind and heavy rain.



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