Saturday, April 13, 2013

Southern Ocean Mojo

Hmmm...was it really only a month ago?

Our trip to the Auckland Islands wasn't at all Southern Ocean sailing in the classic Bernard Moitessier, Beryl and Miles Smeeton way, all graybeards and lonely expanses and coming to the end of one's self.

But... it was enough - enough of a chance for us to dip our toes into higher latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, where the game seems to be so different from the northern environments where we're at home.

To begin with, there was Bluff - gateway to the New Zealand subantarctic.  We checked into the country there, and then returned after our fortnight at Stewart Island so that we could be checked by the Department of Conservation before heading south.

Kiwis (and visiting sailors) love to bag on Bluff.  And it's true that there's not much there.  This is the view of the CBD from the century-old wharf where we tied up Galactic.

Said century-old wharf is a big part of why sailors love to watch Bluff disappearing over the stern.  There are all the rusty bolts and old tractor tires to tie up to that you could want.  When the wind blows southwest it pins you to the dock, and the tide runs like a river.

Here we're using five fenders and two fender boards to make peace with a stack of tires.

There's also a two-meter tide at that dock, so you leave the boat squeezing the air out of the fenders in the morning, then come back to find her out of reach in the afternoon.

Carrying rubbish to town.

The outfitting choices aren't so great in town, either.  We realized that Elias had grown to the point where there was a gap of bare skin between his boots and warm pants...all we could find to solve the problem was a pair of rugby socks at the op-shop.

Luckily, he thought they were just the thing.

So the amenities of Bluff were a bit short of the mark.  But - oh, man.  The people there are friendly friendly friendly.  They set a standard that the rest of (very friendly) New Zealand would struggle to meet.

We finished our business in Bluff...and then there was nothing to it but to head out for the Aucklands.

You'll remember that I was feeling pretty indecisive about the trip.  That hesitation is all about the kids - if it were just Alisa and me on board, I think we'd get up to all sorts of highjinks afloat.  But with the kids in the mix, I'm pretty happy to keep our ambitions in check.

But as it turned out, the passage south was everything that we could have hoped for.  Sun hats in the roaring forties!

Royal albatross.

Black-bellied storm petrel.

After a day and two nights at sea, we pulled into Port Ross at dawn.  Gale- and storm-force northwesterlies were on the way.  Our weather window had closed.

I had, of course, been up much of the night, and was dying for sleep.  But we were here!  The dinghy clearly had to be launched, and a tour of the bay taken, whatever the weather.

Whatever the weather!

More soon.


  1. Great photos Mike - looks freeeeeezing in the last few!!!

    1. thanks, Rae - yep, it definitely wasn't Queensland conditions!

  2. Nice Post. Really boat fenders australia works very good. You should try this.