Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

We had a great sail from Lyttelton up to Kaikoura, once the wind arrived.  Much of the day was spent under spinnaker.  The Kaikoura peninsula sticks out of an otherwise featureless coast and provides the only anchorages between the Banks Peninsula and Cape Campbell, at the front step of Cook Strait.

Kaikoura is that strip of illuminated land just under the sail.

We came in as the light was failing.

And then, just after we rounded the peninsula, the Kaikoura coast guard hailed us on the radio to offer their mooring for the night.  Someone from the coast guard came down to the wharf with a handheld VHF to talk us into the mooring.  That's one big side of South Island En Zed in a nutshell.  The place is very very friendly, which is always an important quality for travelers.

The next day Alisa and the boys went ashore.  There were New Zealand fur seals everywhere.

The place is beautiful, but the anchorage is, alas, far from all-weather.

I stayed on board Galactic and ended up moving anchorage twice during the day.

A front brought snow to the mountains in the afternoon.  Alaskans love seeing snow!

The next day we had a booming sail up the coast, watching the albatross and fluttering (Hutton's?) shearwaters, catching barracuda and letting them go (we really should try eating one), and catching glimpses of snow on the higher peaks.  This is the first proper snow we've seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

And this was our anchorage for the night - Cape Campbell.  It looks pretty improbable from a distance, but turned out to be great.
Once we were settled in, with crew fed and boys asleep, Alisa and I looked at the practicalities for getting across Cook Strait the next day, into Wellington.  A look at tide table and current chart showeed that we'd have to pull the anchor two or two and a half hours before sunrise to beat the tide.  That didn't sound like heaps of fun - setting off before first light with 30 knot southerlies behind us.  Luckily, we happened to look again at an old email from our friends Jon and Babs on New Zealand Maid, which described Wellington in terms of its drawbacks for a traveling boat - wind, expensive marinas, poor access.

Wellington was cast aside on the spot and now, with a relaxed start to the morning behind us, we are setting off on the overnight sail to Napier.


  1. We are wondering whether you have encountered the famous and miserable sandflies yet? We made it to Christchurch five days after the earthquake in 2011 and left there three days after the Fukushima earthquake struck Japan. The central area in Christchurch was cordoned and we weren’t allowed in the city.

    A great book that I recommend while you are there is called “Station Life in New Zealand.” It describes early colonial life on a sheep station and was written by a woman named Lady Barker. The first chapter describes two months at sea and I think the book would be a super read-out-loud for you guys!
    Deborah Carver

    1. thanks for that book recommendation, Deborah.

      And, yes, we have run into some sandflies, though in nothing like the biblical-plague scale that you hear about. I like to think that Alaskans are tough to impress when it comes to biting insects, but it might be we just missed the worst of them.