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Impressive

What boat ?

Was 68 days long enough ?

Looks like you looked into Fiordland abit

Where was the greatest highlight ?

Clockwise or anti ?

Not enough do this IMHO

 

 

Chathams next ?

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Boat is a 42ft Lidgard Regardless design.We went anticlockwise from Auckland starting 16th Jan. I don't think I would start earlier as several people we talked to had strong winds. We were told by the locals it was was one of their worst summers. It was wet at times and cool but most of the time winds were in the acceptable range. Others complained about rough weather but I think that is because of time pressures. We watched the weather very carefully and did not have any timetable ie did not pick up any crew. We saw and did plenty but another couple of weeks in Preservation, Dusky and Pegasus would have been good. We could have stayed longer but tended to move on in suitable weather windows as you can get trapped. Anchorages were generally excellent. We had 55m chain plus rope which we only used once. We did use cheap polyprop rope for sternlines a lot. Webasto heater was a boon to keep interior and gear dry. Sandflies are definitely an issue so you need good screens and repellent and head nets and long clothing otherwise they drive you nuts - not a problem at Stewart Island. We went into Kaipara for 5 days to avoid a cyclone and enjoyed that and also stopped at New Plymouth and Westport for adverse weather. Westport was great and easy to get into at LW 4.5m but not in northerly swell or after heavy rain - phone the harbourmaster- he is very helpful. We also liked Jackson Bay. to be continued !

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Shame we did't catch up. Crossed the bar through the south channel just after LW with about 1m swell and minimum depth 4.5m. You do need a bit of local knowledge though. Got up to Port Albert River just on dark and went on to Pahi the next day and south to Helensville the day after that where we stayed 2 nights and then a night at South Head before heading out at daybreak just after HW and with about a 2m Swell which is probably about the maximum you would want to try it in but no real problems at all. Caught plenty of snapper and gurnard !

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The Kaipara and local knowledge go together, we used the North channel both arriving and leaving, you could spend a year in there and sleep in a different bay every night. We may follow in your footsteps next year, The key is not to have a fixed timetable.

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The South Channel is the way all the charter boats from Helensville go. The advantage apart from being closer from that direction is that you don't have to go sideways on to the swell. I have in the past used both entrances but prefer the south. The interesting thing is that the waypoints I used for the south channel have not changed much in 20 years, so much for shifting sandbanks ! We found that inside the harbour the chartplotter was very accurate even though the navy survey is probably more than 20 years old now. The only exception we found was the Lady Franklin bank has grown a bit and extends further south. The main thing in the Kaipara is to travel with the tides to reduce travel times and to be vigilant in watching your chartplotter when the tide is going out or you could end up on a big lean for a very long time ! Having said that the harbour is very safe with practically no rocks apart from the odd ballast heap from sailing ship days in the Kaipara and Port Albert rivers. As you said you could spend a lot of time gunkholing the Kaipara and living off the seafood !

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I definitely agree with you re having the seas (sweepers, they come in sets of 3 ) coming at you on the beam several times on the way in or out. We turned into them which made it into an exciting switchback ride. I have the co-ords for the North channel but not for the south one, could you possibly post them? Being a centreboarder with a sit upon bottom the sand bars didn't alarm us as it would if we had 6' plus draft. Our neighbour has a Lidguard 42, but he's not keen to bring it around to the Kaipara.

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I hope you carry on with the trip CG, I'm fascinated by your account so far.

I also remember your very good information and thread about going into Parengarenga. You had some terrific screen shots of your estimated track in there.. any chance of the same for Kaipara?

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This whole undertaking involved about 6 months preparation and was not a cheap exercise as we equipped the boat to pretty much Cat1 standard, but it was definitely worth it. We travelled approx. 2900 miles and used around 900 litres of diesel. We motor at about 6.5-7kts (60hp Yanmar running at 2000-2500rpm driving a 3 blade Autostream prop.) We refuelled at Helensville, New Plymouth, Westport, Milford, Deep Cove, Oban, Dunedin (Careys Bay) and Akaroa. Often this was just a top up of say 60 or 80 litres. I estimate we probably motored a third of the distance due to our preference to avoid bad weather and the difficulty of finding fair breezes in the Fiordland area. Having said that we did have some good winds northward bound on the east coast with 24hour runs of between 170 and 180 miles. Most legs were only overnighters because of the weather we struck except the last leg where we did 4days straight between Akaroa and The Mercury Islands.

Fiordland is an amazing place but not without its difficulties, the toughest being the rugged terrain and thick bush making walking or exploring difficult and the sandflies are a challenge. Our first week in the area was blue skies but after that it was often damp and cool so hypothermia could easily set in should you get lost as almost happened to two of our crew. You need good quality wet weather an d tramping gear. They did have an Epirb and in the event did not require it but it was a close run thing. That was our only slight drama for the whole trip so we were happy with that. Milford was interesting for the spectacular scenery and notable for all the activity with planes, helicopters, tour boats and cruise ships in abundance. Our first night was in Anita bay a fair weather anchorage with good fishing and the next night on a mooring in Harrison Cove which was pretty special looking up at snow covered mountains and glaciers – this is what we had come all this way to see! We then stayed a few nights on a mooring in Deep Water Basin in company with 3 other cruising yachts courtesy of the Fiordland Lobster Co and walked part of the Milford track to the Giants Gate Waterfall. In the rest of Fiordland and Stewart Island we saw only around 6 other cruising boats and not a lot of fishing boats or other activity. I understand things do get busier a bit later when the cray season starts and the deerhunters arrive for the roar.

We then moved on to Bligh Sound and explored the Wild Natives river by dinghy. We did go up quite a few of the rivers at the head of the fiords and tried to time it near high water as the river mouths tended to be quite shallow with the odd rock and tree trunk to avoid. Navigating in the fiords was relatively easy using our 7inch Lowrance chart plotter/sounder at the helm station. I still think it is a better option than any tablet or computer setup especially with the amount of moisture around. Sometimes depth measurement was a bit disconcerting as the fresh water interface must have been affecting the echo. Having said that we did not hit anything and I think with a careful watch on the plotter there is little risk. We did not have radar or AIS. Fog was not a problem but I guess at times it could be. There were no ships on the west coast and only a few on the east coast of the North Island.

After Bligh the next fiord was George sound where we walked to Lake Alice and to Lake Katherine, both worth a look. The next stop was Charles Sound and exploring the Irene river which has a very nice waterfall up a tributary on the left side going up. In Thompson sound we stopped at Deas cove where there is a DOC hut. The fishing was excellent, Blue Cod and Terakihi. For the whole trip we did really well without trying too hard for fish crayfish and shellfish which were generally several sizes larger than at home. We spent a night in Precipice cove, Bradshaw sound (good anchorage) and then explored the Camelot River in the Gaer arm. Our next move was to Blanket bay in Doubtful Sound where we topped up with water at the “Hotel” . The crayfishing here was excellent ! We then moved to Deep Cove onto a mooring allocated by the manager of the hostel who was very helpful with laundry facilities and showers. There is no rubbish disposal but there is a skip in Deep Water basin Milford. We did not have a watermaker but used a deck rainwater collection system which worked well in Fiordland so showers on board were not a problem. We walked quite a few of the trails in Deep Cove and a couple of the crew did the power station tour. To be continued.

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I have included a track of our crossing of the Kaipara Bar as requested. Just remember any bar crossing is not to be taken lightly but it is definitely doable in settled weather with a less than 2m swell and incoming tide. If you are serious about doing it contact one of the local charter boat skippers for up to date information.

Kaipara bar crossing.jpg

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