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OMG! and other words

Mon Sep 21 2020

I am not one to normally use this rather overworked acronym but in this case it really fits the bill.
I am right now in Deas Cove, Thompson Sound, tied up to a large mussel float mooring. I am consoling myself with a mug of tea and a large slice of my sister’s ultimate fruit cake, baked to a secret recipe but reputed to contain an entire bottle of brandy . I need it. I got here an hour ago - two hours ahead of my ETA.
Remember I mentioned the pole?
Well things were going swimmingly as I surfed down the coast, passing Sound after Sound at high speed. There were in fact five. About three miles out from my destination of Thompson Sound the quick release shackle on the pole topping lift decided to release quickly. All hell broke loose. The pole dropped into the sea, only restrained by the foreguy as the genoa flogged madly and the topping lift swung in ever increasing arcs as we rolled until it wrapped itself around the top of the genoa.I frantically furled the genoa while yelling,“Don’t break, don’t break!” to the pole. Just as I got the genoa under control and prepare to race up to the foredeck the pole broke - or at least the parrot beak at the mast attachment snapped off. I retrieved the pole and lashed it to the rail and set about catching the wildly swinging topping lift. This took considerable time as the boat pitched and rolled through the rough sea but eventually I snagged it with the boat hook and led it round and round the Genoa till it was back in its rightful place.
I made it back to the cockpit and promptly threw up.
Feeling better I steered into the welcoming entrance of Thompson Sound. The wind however had other ideas. Funneled by the high peaks on either side it increased exponentially. Soon it was blowing well over 50knts and the sea was being ripped up into sheets of spray. I was doing 8 knots under a triple reefed main and could barely keep control.It was sailing on a knife edge; we were dead downwind with no margin for error. If a gust backwinded the main, the preventer would stop a crash gybe, but I would lose control and potentially blow the sail or worse. I barely made the point that led into this harbour - passing the rocks at the end with twenty metres to spare. In the lee of the point was a tiny patch of calm. I swung up into it and dropped the main, running quickly forward to lash it down and then dashing back to reverse us away from the rocks, only meters ahead. In the howling wind and rain it took me four attempts to get a line through the buoy and secure us for the night before I could collapse exhausted through the hatch.
The wind is screaming through the rigging and it is supposed to get up even more. The heater is lit and the patient pending Ultimate Wind Deflector is doing its job.
It’s good to be here.

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Holy cow this is turning into a true adventure story in real-time. He should write a book afterwards (I’d buy it). I’m also with the others here who now feel this guy has more than earned a donation to the trust. Anyone know how to do that?

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20 minutes ago, Aleana said:

Holy cow this is turning into a true adventure story in real-time. He should write a book afterwards (I’d buy it). I’m also with the others here who now feel this guy has more than earned a donation to the trust. Anyone know how to do that?




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Latest instalment:
Well that was not a restful night. The wind was like a fearsome beast prowling around the boat all night. It howled and screamed in the rigging, it shook the mast and banged the halyards, it shoved and rocked the boat and tried it’s best to pluck us from our mooring. I was worried the line might chafe through and break at which point we would be flung off into raging black night. To that end I prepared as best I could. I had the anchor cock-a-bill, ready to drop and the radar on all night to give me eyes in the dark. The plotter cannot be relied on. When entering the bay in daylight yesterday it showed me tracking along the rocky shore. The charts are at least one hundred meters out here and this cove is only two hundred meters wide. (If you switch to the satellite option on the tracking page you can zoom in and see the location).

I slept (badly) in my clothes, boots and coat ready. I figured in ten seconds I could be up the campanionway, starting the engine on the way, and get control of the boat if we broke adrift. Hopefully I would have enough power to turn against the wind and then feel my way ib the pitch dark with the radar and sonar (which gives me a lovely 3D rendition of the seabed around me) and anchor in a spot I had already marked on the radar. I would then run out almost all my 85 meters of chain and hope the anchor would hold.
Thankfully I didn’t need to do any of that and the mooring line, although showing signs of chafe, is still holding. I eased the line to “freshen the nip” as the saying goes and declared a hut day. The Sound outside the narrow entrance of this horseshoe cove is still a churning mass of white water and I have no inclination to go out there until it calms down.

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1 hour ago, 1paulg said:

I love his writing style and the way he deals with everything thrown at him...a great read

Agree. Which is why I think he should write a book. It would need minimal editing and be a great mini-story.

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One tuff sailor and one tuff boat.

A dash to shelter

Tue Sep 22 2020

By three o’clock I had had enough of the incessant wind and decided to look for a more sheltered position. The best option was Blanket Bay down the end of Thompson Sound and at confluence of Doubtful and Bradshaw Sounds. It looked protected from these winds by the 1200 meter Mt Grono and had a series of little coves with established stern lines for mooring to.
So I slipped my overworked headline and motored out into the Sound. Of course it hadn’t calmed down at all from yesterday. In fact the wind was even stronger, but being under motor it was much easier to control the boat. For once I could enjoy the raw power of the wind as it came ripping down the long reach, a white wall of spray leading each gust, the meter high waves turn into long foaming streaks as we surged down them . For interest’s sake I slipped the propeller to neutral and we continued on under bare poles at 5 knots.
The wind gusted to 60 knots and everything went white as the air filled with spray. Waterfalls were ripped sideways and an unfortunate gull went tumbling past, beak over tail, unable to fly any longer.
Close round Common Head and we came into the lee of Mt Grono, or at least some sort of lee compared to the madness back in Thompson Sound. There are gusts coming from every direction and water spouts dancing crazy jigs across the water. Looking ahead I could see a number of crayfishing boats rafted up in Blanket Bay, all no doubt watching my approach with interest and wondering what sort of a hash I was going to make of mooring up. Well I didn’t disappoint them. Mooring in these gusty conditions, when you are on your own, involves a lot of running - or rather clambering over sheets, preventers, load binders and the inflatable on the foredeck - to get to the bow just in time to realise you have been blown off the buoy and are rapidly approaching the rocks. Reverse sequence and gun the engine to get out of danger and have another go. Repeat. Repeat. And for maximum entertainment value finally get hold of the buoy and find yourself locked in a tug of war with the wind against five tons of boat and you, your face pressed against the rail in a contorted grimace as you summon your last reserves of strength to heave the slimy line on board and make fast. I could hear the applause through multiple wheelhouse windows as my audience graded my performance out of 10 and then returned to their beers and card games.
Repeat collapse down companionway, cup of tea and large slice of fruitcake.

Talking of Van de Stadt designs I like the Forna 37.


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Making a break for Breaksea

Wed Sep 23 2020

It poured with rain last night but that meant a blissful sleep as it heralded the end of the relentless wind. I was woken by the sound of a helicopter landing at the Blanket Bay “Hotel”. This is the name given to a rudimentary shack on a little island about 200 meters out from where I am moored. The crayfishing boats moor up there and transfer their catch to the helicopter. When I finally poke my head up through the hatch the half dozen boats have all gone and I am once again alone. I motor over to the “Hotel” and tie up. There is a permanently running hose on the dock, sourced from a stream on Secretary Island and I fill my tank with what is reputably “the best drinking water in New Zealand”.
Watered up I am on my way out through The Gut to the open sea. I am taking advantage of another short weather window to get down to Breaksea Sound.
Behind me the steep walls of Doubtful Sound, wrapped in fleecy white clouds, recede into the distance in ever darkening hues of purple grey until they are lost in the mist.

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Puysegur Point to port

Fri Sep 25 2020

A change of plan.
I was going to spend the night at Otago Retreat, the shallow channel between Coal Island and the Puysegur Point lighthouse depot landing. The idea was to have civilized night at anchor and then catch the NW wind in the morning.
So the wind filled in early after dying from the South. With such a good breeze behind me I wanted to get a jump on the next weather system and use it to slingshot me round through Foveaux Strait, up the Catlins coast and on towards the Otago Peninsula. The big advantage is that the wind will be blowing off the land so I shouldn’t have anything like the horrendous seas I had to deal with off the West Coast.
So I have resisted the Siren Song of the safe anchorage and am heading off into the night.
I have just passed Puysegur Point, reputably the windiest place in NZ. There is 25 knots behind me and it should be a fast run tonight.

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