Wgtn to to D’Urville Island via Cape Koamaru – 12 Jan 2019

Crew: Geoff, Peter, Tunch. 

Metservice Forecast WELLINGTON: Rising to southerly 20 knots early morning, easing to southeast 10 knots in the afternoon. Turning northerly 15 knots in the evening. Sea becoming moderate early morning, easing in the afternoon. A few early showers, then becoming fine.

Metservice Forecast COOK : Southeast easing to 15 knots Saturday morning. Turning northerly 15 knots late Saturday evening. Rough sea at times. Southerly swell 1 metre, developing.

COOK STRAIT SAILING INSTRUCTIONS: Leave Wellington to arrive at Sinclair Head 1 hour before HW Wellington. You will then have a favourable tidal stream across Cook Strait.

The plan was:
0710 hrs Leave Chaffers 
0930 hrs Arrive Sinclair Head (2.5 hrs at 5 kts) 
1430 hrs Arrive Cape Koamaru 
1600 hrs Arrive Ship Cove

Forecast was generally good. A dying southerly with 1mt southerly swell however the Cape Terawhiti Boating forecast gave it a rating of only 2 presumably due to disturbed sea state following the recent high winds. OK so it’ll be rough but with all the other factors in our favour – tide, wind and swell all going in the same direction – it should be safe.

We started on schedule at 7 am. Did a trip report with Maritime Radio and rigged up the No. 2 Genoa and main. A beautiful and calm morning in Wellington harbour. 

As we motor-sailed out through Wellington Heads we could feel the 1.5 mt southerly swell on our nose. We passed through Chaffers Passage and then crossed Palmer Head at 0820 hrs we turned off the engine (bliss) and sailed west at about 6 kts. Wind increased to 20 kts so we took the precaution of putting a reef in the mainsail before we arrived at Karori Rip. As we neared Sinclair Head our speed over ground (SOG) started increasing to 7 and then 8 kts as caught the tidal stream. Passed Sinclair Head at 0830 hrs one hour ahead of schedule, and our SOG increased to 9 and up to 10 kts. As expected the sea was pretty rough and we put on our tethers for safety. Passed Cape Tarawhiti at 1000 hrs leaving the Karori Rip. The southerly swell and tide continued pushing us along at 9 kts.

We then rigged up the spinnaker pole to set the Genoa “goose-winged” and connected up “Ernesto”, our AutoTiller, which steered Halo to the next waypoint across the Cook Strait. Look Mum, no hands!

We crossed north of Awash Rock at 1130 hrs and then west of The Brothers keeping a close eye on the chartplotter as this was unfamiliar territory for us. Passed Cape Koamaru at 1200 hrs – 2.5 hours ahead of schedule!

After doing some route planning on the OpenCPN we made the decision not to go to Ship Cove. We calculated we could get to D’Urville Island easily before sundown. Geoff called the Catherine Cove Lodge to confirm we could use one of their moorings. No problems!

The next challenge was passing Cape Jackson. We crossed the top of Queen Charlotte Sound on a beam reach in 15 kts southerly averaging 7 kts SOG. Passed though the gap between the headland and the Cape Jackson light (where the Mikhail Lermatov came a cropper in 1986) at 1250 hrs with following tide keeping our speed up at 8 kts. 

We then lost our tidal push and continued on at a more normal speed of 6.5 kts past Cape Lambert, Alligator Head, north of Titi Island, crossing the top of Pelorus Sound. We passed Clay Point at 1550 hours. 

By this time the wind had eased off considerably. Tunch put the fishing line out and eventually snagged a nice big Kawahai!

We eventually arrived at Catherine Cove and were tied up at the mooring by 1700 hours. Closed the TR with Maritime Radio. Total trip time Wellington to D’Urville Island – 10 hours. Total distance 64 nautical miles. Tired but happy with our achievement. Time for a refreshing swim followed by dinner of the great lamb curry that Graciela had pre-prepared for us!

DAY 2 -Catherine Cove

As a break from sailing we did the hike up the Old School track to the ridgeline and looped back down to Catherine Cove via the 4WD track. 5 hours. Back in time for another swim followed by kawahai for dinner expertly filleted and cooked by Tunch.

DAY 3 – French Pass Settlement

Decided to go for a day trip across Admiralty Bay over to the French Pass settlement to check it out and have a look at the French Pass tidal flows in preparation for tomorrow’s sailing. 

We tied up at the wharf and had a look around the place. Thought we’d go to the shop for an ice cream but were disappointed to discover that the shop had closed down in April last year. The sign said the owner had been running it for 40 years and now that he’d turned 75 he’d had enough. The place is for sale or lease to anybody interested. Also noted that the NPD fuel depot does not accept credit cards. You need a NPD card.

We walked up the hill to the lookout and observed the French Pass tidal flows and great views across Admiralty Bay. We read on the plaque that ‘In 1827 the corvette Astrolabe commanded by Dumont D’Urville discovered and after great danger sailed through French Pass’.

On our return to Catherine Cove we went to the mussel farm as Tunch was keen to catch some mussels to have with our fish tonight. Unfortunately they were all too small. Also did some fishing for Blue Cod. We dropped the anchor just off the point. No wind and Peter and Geoff relaxed while Tunch caught four cod. All under the 33cm limit unfortunately and they had to be thrown back in. Also caught a small shark which was trying to eat the cod on the hook and got the line twisted round its neck. We were able to set him free eventually. 

Had a bit of excitement when the wind came up unexpectedly and Halo quickly started drifting dangerously close to the rocks! Had to move quickly to start the engine and bring up the anchor.

Back to the mooring and dinner and enjoyed the amazing sunset over French Pass.

Tomorrow we’re off to Nelson via French Pass

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