Lyla Goes West

May 12, 2018 | Passages

A year ago we hoped to make our first cruise to the Marlborough Sounds. However, an offer of extra work meant we needed to stay at home to further develop the business.

This was the year for us to go. Six weekends prior to departure were taken up with preparations, including a haul out and scrub down. All was ready to go, but it was preferable to wait two more days, as a southerly was forecast.

Departure was around 0900 HRS and it was not too long before we were out of the harbour into Cook Strait with a steady 15 knots wind, as predicted. Eventually we were abeam of Karori Light and from there it took only three hours to reach across to Tory Channel. The entry to the channel was a bouncy experience as the tides can flow very quickly at times.

Soon we were on the iron sail and motored to Hitaua Bay, near the junction of Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound. Picked up a mooring and had a good night, moving out the next morning to sail to Double Cove, which is about three quarters of an hour from Picton. We had two good nights on a mooring owned by an Evans Bay Club member and found the bay very sheltered from all winds. This was our first cruising experience on the H28 and we found Lyla very comfortable and well laid out for living aboard. The weather was just superb and we appreciated the ease with which we could get about, as the crowds were well home after the school holidays.

Quenn Charlotte Sound

Queen Charlotte Sound (Photo courtsey Gavin Sharp)

We looked at the chart and headed out into Queen Charlotte Sound to find another good spot. This turned out to be Kumutoto, in Double Bay, where we dropped the new 35lb anchor into a beautiful golden sandy bottom. Holding was good, so two nights were enjoyed here, with daytime exploration in the inflatable dinghy. There were not many public areas to go ashore. However, to stretch ours legs we walked a bush track to an adjacent bay. Judith sent the skipper back along the track to get the dinghy to take her back to Lyla.

Beautiful Kumutoto Bay – Early in morning before the clouds lifted off the hills

Kumutoto Bay (Photo courtsey Gavin Sharp)

Off again the next day to Resolution Bay, which is the last bay before Ship Cove at the extremity of Queen Charlotte Sound. Our friends have been the proprietors of Resolution Bay Cabins for many years. They were at Picton for a few days, so we decided to wait for their return. They are now retired and have handed over the camp to their son and his wife, who are making a good job of it. We stayed on the camp mooring for two nights. We walked round to Schoolhouse bay, where I gathered a hatful of pipis. I boiled them up on the boat, only to find they contained nothing but sand. We were able to catch our friends for a chat on their return. We then departed for Endeavour Inlet, the largest inlet in Queen Charlotte Sound.

Motoring to Ferneaux Lodge in the dark was interesting, as over the VHF we were advised to head to the wharf. The area was a blaze of lights. By luck we ended up at the wharf, assisted by the lodge “boat man” John. We had an excellent meal at the bar and remained tied up to the wharf for the night. The morning was spent with a walk around the shore on the Queen Charlotte main track, while the afternoon was enjoyed with a climb up through the bush at the rear of Ferneaux Lodge to the waterfall. The track appeared to be little used, as in parts the ferns were overgrown. Back at the lodge, we took the time to read the wall displays about the interesting 100 year history of the area, which featured mining for various metals.

It was time for us to cruise to Picton for as scrub up and to get the washing sorted out. We were allocated a berth on the new town marina where boats of around 100 feet were tied up. Looking back from Picton while relaxing after a latte, we noticed Lyla looked like a tender for the larger craft.

Friends from Evans Bay Club sailed over to Picton on the ferry as their yacht had engine trouble. We had a pleasant few days with Faye and Errol in and around Picton, then looked at the situation for departure to Wellington. Conditions were not suitable so we were forced to extend our holiday.

We were returning to the mooring at Double Cove when we noticed another EBYMC member on his way to the same haven. Geoff had recently purchased his yacht and had fun assembling his “two bits” tender for the first time. He eventually rowed over to us with some welcome cans of ale, as the sun dropped over the yardarm.

Next morning it was time to work our way back to Tory Channel. Dieffenbach at the entrance to Tory Channel was a good point to stop for lunch break and test out my first fishing rod. Caught three fish very quickly but as they were spotties they were returned to the sea. Motored along Tory Channel to Kawhia Bay to pick up a mooring and get clear of the ferry wash.

It was a short night as we were up at 0300 HRS to get to the exit of Tory Channel. This was an excellent early morning navigation exercise, following the lights of the channel. Good things never last, as just on daylight we headed out into Cook Strait where there was a three metre southerly swell running with very little wind. The iron sail was at it again as with the swell beam on it was impossible to raise any sail. On arriving at the coast of the North Island things were probably worse especially at the notorious Karori tide rip. I had to laugh at the dolphins as they appeared in the tops of waves with a smile as if to say “What’s taking you so long?” Thought after the rip it would settle, however with a small course change to cross Lyall Bay near Wellington Airport the swell remained beam on. Finally on entering Wellington Heads it was all quiet and Judith ceased to cuddle the winch.

It was a great adventure being our first time out of our home port and after the three weeks away there was soon talk of next year. Endless cruising remains in the area and the thought of returning to work was not a good thought at all. Lyla performed well, including the newly fitted electric anchor winch, gas stove, pressure water system and all-essential steering compass. On reflection the time away was very relaxed and the weather superb. Another time more care will be taken with tide calculations. Cook Strait is a challenging stretch of water even to large ships and offers more navigation theories than answers.

Robin Clearwater