George Sound to Thompson Sound
Prior to departing for the sailing trip the first time, Claire had written out on paper a poem. It was for placement in a bottle to be thrown overboard somewhere down the West Coast – a message in a bottle.
An empty Isacs Cider stubby was chosen as the appropriate vessel to contain the message, purely because the words ‘Nature Intended’ were endorsed on the outside. It made me feel better when opposite Caswell Sound, Longitude 45°00.022’S Latitude 167°04.374’E, as I tossed it overboard to litter someone else’s backyard.
All I remember of the poem was some reference to ‘If found, please contact etc, etc’ as I nearly fell over-board throwing the damn thing. It would have been what I swam for to cling onto for dear life had I plopped in because at least if I was found holding it, someone would have known where to return me!
Puttering up Thompson Sound, we disembarked the yacht on a spit of land to walk up to a Department of Conservation (DOC) hut only accessible by boat. What a fantastic shelter surrounded by dense native bush. The visitors book evidenced from time to time, hosting mostly kayakers from Doubtful Sound. We too left our entry.
A Weka appeared from beneath the undergrowth to approach to within a metre or so from where I sat, pecking at the ground. Keeping still was near impossible as the sand fly infestation searching for spots on the face to land and suck the red stuff meant continuous swatting. They tasted terrible as I would have because I had smeared open flesh with Bushman’s Insect Repellent – the green bottled one that had 80% Deet. Or was it the repellent I was tasting! I wondered if Weka were bothered by the bloody things.
Another mooring under darkness to the sound of cascading water from a waterfall. Couldn’t see it, yet it certainly muffled the sound of our cascade of fluids when peeing over the side.
Thompson Sound to Dusky Sound (Via Breaksea Sound)
As dawn lifted the shadows it revealed a small island hosting a building and jetty quite close. Our sea charts showed being able to refuel with fresh water at the place and as we were about to reverse from the overnight mooring, a clunk from below didn’t sound normal – as did the no reversing under the motor. The end of the cable had snapped meaning disengagement of gears.
Three of us were now needed to manually operate engaging the gears forming a chain of command to barrack instructions. With Max at the helm, me standing at the base of the steps and Wayne’s butt protruding from the engine room, it was a team effort to pull up alongside of the jetty and building that read, ‘Blanket Bay Hotel and Jail House Cafe.
Although lifeless because it was located in the middle of no-where, it showed signs of having been frequented, obviously a spot for fishing crews to hold up at in crappy weather conditions. The Cafe was shut for our patronage too!
Thompson Sound connects with Doubtful Sound having similar landscape to Milford except less boat traffic for which I rate. Less tourists means more untouched.
The next Sound to rest our heads was Breaksea Sound. Zig zagging up the Ancheron Passage was where we encountered Dolphins. Hundreds of them and they were huge, some with battle scars on their fins, some were albino coloured. They skimmed and darted our bow wave for ages talking with each other in squeaks. Or perhaps they were singing.
Dusk was setting as we were mooring for the night at Stick Cove, meaning we could still see the bottom. Not only that, but we also saw the rock that the stern floated into causing some raised voices of calm panic. With the gears still being engaged manually, additional lines were affixed to the shore to reduce another squeak from a further rub up.
It wasn’t long before we were singing the praises of some number 8 wire Kiwi engine-uity at repairing the gears. Hope we didn’t keep the Dolphins awake with our vocals.