We have arrived in Picton. What is much more important is that my camera has gone on the bugle. I am reliably informed that it is the battery. I am stunned as the camera is less than 4 months old. What could I have possibly done to cause this. I hope one of the wizards on board knows how to rectify the situation and soon.


Calm and warm day in Timaru looking south from the bridge.

In the meantime, since my last missive we have visited Timaru, Akaroa, Wellington and today Picton. We have been tracking a large area of low pressure that has been battering the west coast of the South Island for a few days. These systems tend to unsettle the atmosphere and one usually leads to another. One was responsible for the unsettled weather in Stewart Island and Port Chalmers and another is brewing. We did manage two days of fine and settled weather for Timaru and Akaroa. Timaru in particular is a small port and really requires fine weather to navigate into and out of. We were blessed. For on the day the weather was calm and still whereas the night before we arrived it was blowing 30 knots from the North East. We arrived and anchored in Akaroa harbour at 7:30. The sun rose at 06:30 and the warm morning light gave the entrance cliffs a pink hue.

Akaroa - 6

Akaroa harbour entrance in the early morning sun.

Akaroa - 3

The navigators view of Akaroa harbour entrance.

Akaroa - 2

Looking out to sea from our anchorage in Akaroa harbour.

It was a beautiful day here. We tendered the guests ashore in our boats and by all accounts they had a superb day.

From here we went up to Wellington. In the evening we started to feel the influence of the next large low pressure area building in the Tasman Sea. By the time we entered the SE entrance of the Cook Strait the wind was gusting to 50 knots and although there was little swell the sea was quite rough. Our pilot boarded at 8am and we berthed ahead of the Sun Princess and spent rather a pleasant day in the harbour. Yes, it was windy but we were tied up alongside and it was a bright and sunny day. I had lunch with an old friend whom I had not seen in nearly 20 years. He is a Captain on the Interislander ferry that connects Wellington to Picton now. We were in Stena Line ferries on the Irish Sea many years ago. Captain Jonathan Birdsall was looking very well.


Two old friends after 20 years apart.

When we sailed at 23:00 for Picton the wind had dropped and I thought that we would be spared the worst of it. When I woke up the next morning for the run down Queen Charlotte sound I was wrong. It had risen to 45 knots again from the North West. Once in the shelter of the Sound we made good time and by 07:20 we were at the port entrance. I decided to anchor instead of docking for the forecast was such that I could get the ship berthed but may not get off again, pinned to the wharf by the wind. I was glad I took that decision for the wind was strong and gusty all afternoon. The tenders ran successfully all day and we used the engines to provide shelter for them once they came alongside. So here we are, swinging around pour anchor with gusty winds blowing and warmish weather.

Mark Dexter 2015