Monday, February 11, 2019

On To Thompson Sound (Fiordland)

[Kyle]We had another long sail planned, so, as usual, I was up in the darkness before sunrise to have time to do one last check of the weather before we left. Looking into the cockpit, I noticed that all of the sandflies were gone! On closer inspection, most of them had died and fallen to the floor, but the others were just gone. They really do just disappear at night!

We had breakfast and made the last of our preparations so that we could leave as soon as it was light enough to safely navigate our way out into the fiord. When we left the cabin, maybe half a dozen flies were listlessly buzzing around us. By the time the anchor was up, there were great frenzied clouds of them trying to get at us. Ha! We had already decided that our new policy was to never leave the cabin with any exposed skin, so we were ready for them.

Early start means we get to enjoy the sunrise views... Kind-a OK I guess.
More dramatic views as we continue south along the coast and approach Thompson Sound

We had big tailwinds and a fast sail down the coast. Maryanne was keen to try to have a look at the penguin colony on Stays Island at the entrance to Caswell Sound, so we diverted toward the fiord. As we got closer, it became apparent that the seas were way too big to approach the island safely. Any penguins ashore would certainly also be on the leeward side away from the crashing surf. Oh, well. We tried.

When we got to Thompson Sound, we gave up flying any sail whatsoever and let the thirty knot winds push us along under bare poles. It was very pleasant. The big seas were gone. We were still going five or six knots and we didn’t have to worry about sail handling. We could just stand on deck and watch the view slide by. At Thompson, we saw the first other boat we had seen since leaving Milford – a commercial fishing boat working at the entrance. The winds were also too much for the flies, so we took the opportunity to open the hatches and change the steamy air in the boat for a fresh, dry replacement.

Deas Cove, Thompson Sound

The overgrown trail led us to the more exposed Neck Cove

We tucked into protected Deas Cove and were pleased to find that someone had run a line from a mooring ball in the bay to the beach. Instead of anchoring and rowing long lines to the beach in the dinghy, all we had to do was pick up the pendant on the mooring and attach a stern line to the beach line. That left us with enough time to go ashore. It was still windy, but it was coming from the beach, so I figured if I could get us there, it would be an easy ride back.

We were in the cockpit making the last of our preparations to leave when the wind just stopped and the bay almost instantly calmed down and became beautiful and reflective. We had about twenty seconds to enjoy it before the flies arrived from wherever they had been hunkered down. Auuugh! Fortunately, our policy saved us, but I had really been hoping for a break.

There wasn’t much to see ashore apart from a DOC hut that was in a much better state than the last one in George. We poked around a bit looking for a trail to the beach on the other side of the ridge, but found they all dead ended in boggy marshland. In our comings and goings, we did meet an adorable little fantail who seemed absolutely determined to befriend and entertain us. Every time we passed by, he would come down right to us to tweet away and show off his tail. When we would leave, he would even follow us for a bit before giving up. The last time we passed his section of the trail, I swear I almost got him to land on my finger so he could tell us all of the day’s birdy gossip. He was right next to me and every time I offered my hand as a perch, he studied it hard. Once, he even started to hop over from his branch, but chickened out midway and flew back.

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

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