Part One


Sailing to Fiordland:

Golden Bay







January 30, 2012

Anchorage Bay:  40 57'.19S  173 03'.44E


A weather window was opening up and it looked like 4 to 5 days of light winds and slight seas was approaching the west coast of New Zealand.  There would be enough time to reach Golden Bay on the northern end of the South Island.  If we were lucky, we might even make it all the way to Milford Sound.

We left Opua on January 14 and spent the first night at picturesque Roberton Island in the Bay of Islands.  The next night in Whangaroa Harbour was our last on the North Island. 



It took the better part of the day on January 16 to get around the tip of the North Island motoring in 2-8 knot winds.  They increased to 12-20 as we rounded North Cape, sailed west to Cape Reinga, then south down the western coast. 




Smooth seas turned slight then grew to moderate before flattening back to smooth again over the next three days.  Sometimes it was sunny but mostly it was cloudy and warm with winds in the single digits.  What a gentle passage it was! 




A large low was headed toward Fiordland and it wasn't certain we could beat it so we ducked into Golden Bay on Day 4.  The forecast was for for 30-35 knots in that part of Cook Strait but we had nothing above 27 during the night.  We pulled into Tarakohe Harbour at 1300 on January 20.



Port Golden Bay / Tarakohe Marina is a small and pleasant place built at the site of a now defunct cement factory. Odd shaped limestone towers rise above the masts while densely forested mountains loom behind the expansive bay. The weather is often balmy here and it was gorgeous during our stay.




There is a small live-aboard community of young people who are quite friendly and helpful.  Our jib began to delaminate in Cook Strait and we asked Alan, the harbour master, if there was a sailmaker in the area.  He pointed to a guy down the quay and said that Darrell could help us out.  Soon Jim and D had the sail spread out over several banquet tables in the yacht club sewing and taping it back together.

Daniel, on the pretty wooden boat next door, offered us the use of his car to drive into the charming, artsy, slightly bohemian town of Takaka 14k away. We were in luck, there was a county fair going on.




We spent three days in Tarakohe before moving down to Anchorage Bay in Torrent Bay.  Located in the southern end of the Abel Tasman National Park, the scenery is absolutely stunning.  Cobalt and turquoise water surround bush-clad rocky islets and lap fine sandy beaches backed by lush wooded hills and high, green peaks. 

The only way into the park is by boat or by foot. The coastal track is a popular tramping route and several companies offer single and multi-day kayaking trips.  We took a three day trip last year and had a blast.  Now we were thrilled to be back here in Tenaya.  Not a bad place to be stuck waiting for weather!
















We love our new Sea Eagle Fast Track 385!  In the calm bay I practiced using it as a stand-up paddle board.  It's a bit challenging and a real thigh burner if done very long, but nice to know it works.

We paddled all around the bay and up a river.  Sometimes we had the seats in and other times we left them out.  It's very versatile.  When a swell came rolling through, I paddled the stern anchor out.  That was easier than dealing with the dinghy which was still tied onto the bow.



There are several tracks in the area.  One day Jim and I hiked out to the end of the point and over to some other bays. 




Another day we joined the crews of Paikea Mist and Jackster for a hike to a waterfall with wonderful pools among the granite boulders.  Gloria couldn't resist a dip in the cool, refreshing water and I was right behind her.




As we relaxed in the cockpit one afternoon a serious looking cat with lots of antennae approached.  The police.  They questioned us and the other two foreign-flagged yachts about our status and plans in a very pleasant manner.




Over the weekend our watermaker started acting up and Jim couldn't figure out the problem.  We headed to Nelson to find a repairman, buy some bottled water and some jugs and things to fashion a water catchment system if necessary.

As we rounded the point at the entrance to the bay we saw a yacht stuck among the rocks.  Apparently he'd tried to come in the night before and his GPS was off. This is the second time we've awaken to find a yacht on the rocks.  It reaffirms our belief not to enter strange ports or anchorages in the dark.



Local yachts sail into the harbour at Nelson but we didn't know what to expect so motored up the river to the marina. The proximity to town and a plethora of boat services make this an ideal location. 



Nelson is a lovely town with plenty of restaurants and shops and we took the opportunity to top up our fresh shores.  When I mentioned I'd be rolling a trolley full of water bottles back from Countdown, the supermarket nearby,  the nice man on the boat next to us tossed me the keys to his ute.  I said, Thanks, that's awesome! By the way, my name is Katie."  He was living here now; he'd had enough of the shaking in his hometown near Christchurch.

After we were flush with water related supplies the watermaker started working.  We think the faucet might have been accidentally tightened and caused pressure to back up in the system. The clue?  The faucet popped up high above its normal position above the sink and hissed loudly before spitting out water again.

It looks like several days of nice weather will settle over the area so we will sail to Fiordland on February 1st. 



Go to February Part 1: Sailing to Milford Sound


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