Dusky Sound to Preservation Inlet
Dusky is the largest Fiord at nearly 40 kilometres in length and is considered by many to be the most attractive. The Maori name is Tamatea (Captain of the Takitimu Canoe) and in 1792, New Zealand’s first house and boat were constructed there.
Inside the Fiords, depths could drop to over 200+ metres however, three nautical miles off shore and the depth was 20-35 metres, go figure!
When an Albatross flew into our fishing line, our immediate attention was to save it without injury for which we swung the yacht about to face in the direction we came. Pats of achievement on the backs as we bore witness to the gigantic bird running like Forrest Gump to pick up speed and eventually hoist itself into the air. The fishing lure now shines on the bottom and our fishing was halted temporarily so as not to repeat the incident. Sautéed Albi wasn’t a preferred menu item this trip.
Puysegur Point light house came into view and although it wasn’t beaming due to it being daylight, it signalled Preservation Inlet, our stop for the night. Could it have got any better in spectacular views than what we had experienced? You bet. It was just stunning as the calmer waters silhouetted the mountains and sun’s reflection with awe. Doubtful and Milford Sounds now came runners up to this part of Aotearoa’s paradise.
Slalom sailing crayfish pot buoys to drop anchor beside a helicopter pad on an old ferry boat and sunken fishing boat wreck ‘Te Waipounamu’ at Weka Island went smoothly, all the Chiefs on board the Chieftan in alignment. As we laid our heads down to sleep, the plan was to depart at 4.00am the following morning as the push to Stewart Island was a big one.
It would take us around the Sou’west corner of New Zealand. The weather forecast was favourable although not so good a day or so out, hence the early start. Better to be safe than sorry, on a good night’s sleep.
Preservation Inlet to Port William, Stewart Island.
A movement within the cabin at 12.42am – Max decided to change the plan and set sail trying to give some comfort that he could manage the sail out of Preservation Inlet solo. Yeah right, the yacht needs to draw 2 metres of water so as not to scrape the bottom with part of the route to be sailed out of the inlet ‘Otago Retreat’ going to be touch and go at the best of times. Sailing solo wasn’t in tune with the agreement neither that there should be two at the helm under darkness sailing.
De-bunking half asleep made for grumpiness but half awake, it made for hands on deck with eyes peeled to GPS and depth finder alertness. Only when we had cleared Puysegur Point with the bulb flashes from the lighthouse behind us ease the cabin fever. And, who parks a tanker in the middle of the ocean down that way as well? All the more reason two up top in case one slips into shut eye so as to navigate around – the tanker wasn’t budging it sleep pattern!
Sunrise on the eastern horizon with no land in-between positioned us on Fouveaux Straight. Dawn sky with pinks and crimsons and oranges and yellows created an imaginary fireworks of celebration that we had completed one of the down and around parts of the journey – Stewart Island was now an outline. Eating humbled pie to give Max credit for his early start was called for, half awake outweighed the half asleep by far.
As daylight strengthened, Stewart Island increasingly crept larger and larger. The surface became still as the wind eased to display the charging on the yacht by 1000’s of porpoises. They swam with us for nautical mile after nautical mile taking turns at leading and having me snap more photos of animal life than before. Raw and un-staged nature drove emotional passion for life to the highest of emotions – it was a time to feel homesick and longing to be around the loved and the dearest – family and friends both locally and globally.
The lady at the other end of the of the radio advised us to moor up at Port Williams. We had witnessed the setting of the sun on the western horizon and it was amazing – a complete reverse of the sunrise.