Tasman Bay at Last
Well after what feels like multiple attempts we have finally made it to South Island. We departed early last Saturday from the Bay of Islands Marina, but as we motored out into the bay we realised that the alternator was not charging at all. So after some debate we pulled into a sheltered bay and dropped anchor to investigate.
There was nothing obvious, but having just changed the regulator and having spent an hour on Whatsapp chatting to one of Ash’s friends, Cam, who is a whiz on all things electrical, we became convinced it was the alternator that was the problem.
|The offending alternator|
We contemplated giving up on heading to South Island and instead heading down the east coast to Marsden Cove, where we knew there was a good electrician who we trusted. But, that all seemed a bit defeatist and so, not without some trepidation, Pat decided to change out the alternator for the spare one. It took about three hours and some mildly blue language, but by midday it was done and seemed to work. So at 1230 we hauled anchor and set off north for Cape Reinga.
We had good winds to start with and sailed out of the Bay of Islands beautifully. However, it soon died off and we ended up motoring until about 0400. As we rounded the Cape the winds started to pick up in true Tasman Sea style.
|Harry the Hydrovane steering us down the west coast of New Zealand|
We headed down the west coast and were able to maintain a direct course all of the way to Tasman Bay, with the wind on our beam or just behind the beam for much of the way. After two days we ran into the centre of a high and very light winds which meant that the engine came on for about 24 hours. It’s annoying being on the engine but does give us a rest from living at an angle.
As we crossed over the 40 degree latitude the roaring forties lived up to their reputation and the wind built from force 2 to force 6 gusting force 7. We furled away the headsail and had one reef in the new mainsail which performed very well in these conditions, driving us along at 7 knots although this was not really what we needed on our final night at sea!
We arrived in Tasman Bay at around midnight and once in the shelter of Farewell Spit the sea state improved and eventually the wind eased. We headed into our anchorage in Torrent Bay extremely carefully as it was very dark and it was hard to work out all the lights. With Pat on the bow with the searchlight and Debi helming we managed to avoid a number of unlit buoys and dropped anchor at 0400, 3 days and 16 hours after departing from the Bay of Islands. The champagne came out and we celebrated our arrival. On reflection the trip went well and the weather was pretty much as forecast, except for the last 12 hours!
At 0730 we were delay awakened to the sound of someone shouting “ X-Pat, X-Pat”. It turned out that Torrent Bay is a very popular tourist destination, with water taxis and commercial tour operators bringing people into the bay daily to walk and kayak. We were anchored in the middle of the main channel for these vessels! It was no big deal and we just hauled anchor and moved a few hundred meters out of the way and then went back to bed!
Having recovered over the rest of Wednesday and had a good nights sleep, on Thursday we inflated the dinghy and went off to explore Abel Tasman National Park. This a beautiful coastal park with lots of native bush and wildlife. We had a nice walk to Pitt Head and then across to Pukatea Bay. We walked along the beach here and to our amazement found a completely plastic free beach! Despite some fairly close inspection along the tideline there was no plastic to be found. Our experience over the last two years has shown that this is almost unheard of, but was nice to see.
|A plastic free beach at Pukatea Bay|
We continued our walk heading for Watering Cove and then back to Torrent Bay. We managed to identify a few birds including the Western Weka, the Silvereye and a very friendly Pied Fantail. As we have seen in much of New Zealand, the authorities are waging war against what are regarded as non native species and the bush was littered with traps aimed at killing invasive rodents. There was even a stand of pine trees which had been killed as they are regarded as invasive.
|Intrepid explorer and a view over Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman|
|The Anchorage at Torrent Bay is a busy beach during the day|
|Exploring the sheltered Inlet in Torrent Bay|
This morning (Friday) we left Torrent Bay and had a short motor around to Adele Island. This is a conservation island where they have managed to kill off all the rats and re-introduced a number of rare birds. We had planned to investigate in the dinghy but the wind has been blowing 28 knots in our so called “sheltered anchorage “ so we’ve given up on that idea.
Thankfully the wind has died down now, just in time for sundowners!