Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Breaksea Sound (Fiordland)

[Kyle]As we were getting ready to leave Blanket Cove at dawn, the helicopter arrived, breaking the silence. Our fishermen companions had left their mooring at 3am and arrived back at the dock just after the helicopter landed - quickly transferring the morning catch to the helicopter which just as quickly departed, leaving a cloud of spray, without even shutting down the engines in between.

They have this system nailed! As we dropped our mooring lines to depart, they waved us over to pick up a “feed of crayfish” as they put it. Then they handed us three big Spiny Lobsters, which they said weren’t pretty enough for retail sale. We tossed them some fancy chocolates in return as well as a few other things they might have a hard time getting.

The locals get a very early start and we get a gift of lobster dinner! THANK YOU!

Lobster is a great gift, but it’s also what my Mom’s friend Scott calls “a box of work”. Now we had ‘em, what were we going to do with ‘em?

Our main (Maine –HA!) problem was that we don’t have a pot nearly large enough to cook one of them whole. That meant we had to resort to other measures to dispatch the poor creatures before we could remove their tasty tails for cooking.

It was gruesome. Lobsters are fairly primitive animals and as such don’t have a very centralized nervous system. This means the recommended backup method to boiling of stabbing them in the brain does not cause a clear and immediate end like it does in fish. This led to simultaneously comical and horrifying episodes where our poor victim was left staggering around our cockpit with the murder weapon sticking out of his head while we chased after him trying to retrieve it. We’re now the big scary monsters in the niche genre of Lobster Horror Films.

On our third and last try, Maryanne figured out she could don a heavy waterproof glove and dunk the lobster’s head into the boiling pot while holding onto the tail. Two seconds later, with hardly a twitch, the animal is out of its misery.

{Maryanne: Actually I was all for putting them in the pot head first from the beginning - the traditional cook and kill method - but Kyle is a little scream-ish on such things and for him I thought it may be 'nicer' to give them a clean instant kill. I've done this before with UK and Maine Lobster, and 'The Joy of Cooking' cookbook we carry aboard even has instructions. I proceeded with my trusty knife, but it didn't result in the quick kill I was expecting - just a zombie lobster walking about the cockpit with a knife in its skull - after several attempts the crayfish was still defending himself - I felt terrible! Next time - straight to the pot!}

Sailing from Doubtful to Breaksea - another grey but atmospheric passage

As I focused on the sailing to Breaksea, Maryanne cleaned up from our little slasher movie (we didn’t actually film it) and went about trashing and un-trashing the galley in an attempt to make a few meals out of the lobsters. We ended up with too much meat to just eat, so Maryanne made a lovely meal of some of it with pasta and vodka sauce. The rest, she made into a yummy chowder.

Just about the time she finished all of that, we pulled into Breaksea Sound and headed up a few miles to Second Cove, which not surprisingly is the one after First Cove. When we came around the corner, we were surprised to see a big motor yacht on one of the two moorings. Another boat! We picked up the other mooring and for the first time, we had to deploy the dinghy, but just to get our stern line to the pendant on the fixed line that was already there. It was close enough that we could rig our line as a loop so that all we would have to do to leave in the morning was pull it through.

Since the dinghy was down, we decided to spend a couple of hours rowing around the cove. We saw lots of things we didn’t expect, like sea stars and even stingrays. It’s amazing how many interesting things you can find by going somewhere slowly and taking the time to look closely and watch things unfold.

On our return, we stopped at the big motor yacht to say hi. It seemed like it would be a little weird being right next to them and to not say anything. It turned out there was nobody there. It looked like the boat had been there for a while and it was probably being stored there long term. On closer inspection, the fancy boat was looking a little sorry for itself.

That meant we still haven’t seen another cruising boat the whole time we’ve been in Fiordland.

Fellow cruisers? If you are thinking of a trip to Fiordland - see our Tips

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