Settlement Bay

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 14 Feb 2021 08:39
Position: 47 09.29 S 167 42.06 E
At anchor Settlement Bay, Port Pegasus
Wind: calm Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: overcast, mild
Day’s run: 60nm

We experienced a variety of conditions on our way to Port Pegasus with the occasional fresh breeze requiring a reef in the main. So the windvane did get a little bit of a workout, though I will not really know whether the new mounts are up to scratch until they have been through some rougher weather. One is of course disinclined to deliberately seek heavy weather but it occurs to me that a front is due to pass through over Stewart Island tomorrow and this is perhaps a good opportunity to test the windvane in slightly more challenging conditions. Here at least we are relatively close to service facilities where further modifications can be made if necessary, rather than hoping for the best and risking possible failure mid-ocean, which could be bothersome in the extreme.

Our short passage also had several periods of calm where we either motored or drifted. There was little hurry and, as it was, we arrived off the main entrance into Port Pegasus at 0130 this morning. Not wanting to seek an anchorage in unknown waters in the dark when feeling fatigued and judgment can be poor, I chose to reach along the coast back to the east then alter course so as to enter the waterway at first light. At 0630 we found ourselves drifting once again with no wind so I flashed up the BRM and turned back towards Port Pegasus. Given the calm conditions I chose to enter via the narrow entrance called Whale Passage on its eastern side, thereby saving a bit of time and fuel. As mentioned in this morning's post, I initially chose to anchor in Bens Bay because it described as an all weather anchorage but once I had dropped the anchor and surveyed the situation I decided to head for Settlement Bay instead. Bens Bay was pretty and well protected but given its small size it required lines to be run ashore and while there was a buoy provided for this purpose, on looking at the shore there did not seem any trails that might allow for a bit of a leg stretch. Settlement Bay, on the other hand, is described in the Stewart Island cruising guide as a fair-weather anchorage only with poor holding, but there were some ruins of an early tin mine settlement, hence its name, and a waterfall that was described as "worth a look". Given that the weather was fair, I got the anchor in and motored the short distance to where we are now.

Once settled, I got the dinghy in the water and proceeded ashore to the ruins of the old settlement that used to be a post office, general store and hotel serving the miners back in the late nineteenth century. There is little to see in the way of ruins apart from some concrete foundations, but someone has rigged up a hose from the running stream to allow boats to obtain water. I had taken a couple of water containers with me for this purpose; however, as is often the case in these environments, found the water to be stained with tannins. While it is good for washing, I will not be putting it into Sylph’s water tanks.

After unloading the water containers back on Sylph, I proceeded to the head of the bay to look for the waterfall. It was indeed worth a look. Though not particularly large, perhaps thirty meters high and about fifty meters wide, it was certainly very active with great volumes of water cascading over its rock precipice. I attempted to climb its side to have a look at what lay above the waterfall but the stones were slippery and hand and footholds few. Not wanting to get myself into any trouble in a remote location, and reluctantly accepting that bones and joints are not as supple as they once were. I decided to be sensible (I look at the words in near disbelief!) and gave up on the attempt.

Back in the dinghy, I then explored the eastern side of the bay. The guide details a hike up to the old tin mine and I went looking for the start of the trail up a narrow inlet. I think I found it but it was none too obvious. I returned on board and contemplated the hike but, again, given the cruising guide’s warning of its high level of difficulty and that it is a seven hour return trip for a fit hiker, and not to mention feeling a little weary after being up for most of the night, in the end the starboard settee berth won out over the hike.

So now, after a refreshing snooze, a wash and dinner, we settle in for what I hope will be a comfortable night, though I can hear the wind starting to whistle outside. Oh well, we have inspected Bens Bay so, if needs be, we can always move back there if we start to drag.

All is well.