Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Glassy Calm?

Well we waited for about five days but still the SE wind remained. This was a bit inconsiderate of the powers that be as this would mean a head wind all the way to Campbell Island. The weather charts we receive each day showed no sign of a break so we decided to head out and see how we went (this is the furious fifties, sea of the ever constant roaring westerlies!). The wind was about 15 knots with a 1 metre wave chop and a three metre SE swell. We could motor sail at about four knots but were going
to use a fair bit of diesel. We decided to push on and see how it went. That night the wind died and by the next morning there was a glassy calm on top of the underlying 1 to 2 metre E swell. After a cold night sat in the cockpit steering for six hours each we were pleased with a great new day with even some sunshine! Campbell Island was a great sight to see coming over the horizon. A very rugged Island with high cliffs plunging into the sea and cloud shrouded peaks. There was plenty of life visible
as we closed the coast and were accompanied on our way by many Albatross. The shags also began to fly out from the shore around us and back ashore again. A pod of dolphins also stopped by to accompany us for a period. The arrival at Perseverance Harbour allowed the engine to be shut down and peace and quiet reigned. The voyage of just under 200 miles had used a fair bit of our remaining diesel but we were here. A voyage time of 30 hours was also quite good for our boat in such conditions.

Camplbell Island is the location of a meteorological station. The base is not manned anymore but there are lots of buildings ashore. It just happens to be the annual maintenance time now and a small group of men are working on the buildings. This means generators chain saws and other boats about. Almost as bad as a weekend at Waiheke Island anchorages. Tori has gone ashore to walk up to the Col-Lyall saddle. Watching her get safely ashore I could see a mass of splashing around the dinghy which
she reported as Fur Seals keen to get in the boat with her. A fascinating sight last night was watching some fishing. A penguin was chasing a school of small fish. These fish would erupt out of the water followed by the penguin only to disappear again pretty quick. The local birds spotted this pretty quick and would dive into the fish as they came to the surface.

The anchorage here is the busiest spot we have anchored in for a long time. The Meteorological staff are on an expedition boat called 'Evohe'. This is a very solid 80 foot motor-sailor. The vessel has been through the Northwest passage and down to Antarctica. A very comfortable ad solid looking boat. The other vessel is from the University of Otago. Th 'Polaris II' is an ex-fishing boat of about 20 metres length. Quite solid but with all its accommodation at the bow. I would imagine this is not the
boat to be on when motoring into any kind of sea!!

The presence of other boats and people has brought home to use how lucky we have been on this voyage. There are three places that recieve a fair number of visitors each year (600 in total). These are Enderby Island, Ererbus Cove both on Auckland Island group and the Col-lyall saddle here. We have been allowed to visit many sites that very few people will ever get a chance to see. All these sites have been very special and we consider ourselves very lucky.

Following the days of SE wind we had a NW wind settle in last night with squalls and rain/drizzle. With four days left here we will be making the most of what time we have and get as much done as possible. We have decided, unless the plan changes of course (a plan set in custard as some would say), that we will go from here to Dunedin. In Dunedin we will dry out the boat which is now very damp after 5 months of cold weather (the cold wet bunk is loosing some charm) and stock up on diesel which is
getting low after our unplanned motor across here(not even enough to run the heater). After a quick catch up with some friends we will head up the south Island, via Christchurch, to Marlborough Sounds and the Able Tasman before heading off to Wellington. A stop at Kaikoura on the trip north to see if we can spot some whales.

We can always get our hull inspected in Bluff and come back again but the night watches are rather cold sat out in or cockpit (even inside our solid doghouse) while someone throws bath-fulls of cold water at you. I must be getting soft!

A lot of the birds here seem to have a 'camera sensing device'. This allows them to keep well away as you sit in the cockpit camera poised, and then as soon as you put the camera down they fly close by. The timing is very precise as they are just too far away by the time you have picked up the camera and focused. We thus have plenty of pictures of small white dots or photos of the sky where an Albatross, Skua etc used to be but isn't now. If there is good speed internet connection available in Dunedin
we will post some more photos. We have some good photos but alot of photos will not convey the ruggedness, grace, beauty, and starkness of the surroundings.

We will try to update again prior to our departure from Campbell Island


Blogger bridget.carter said...

Hi Jim and Tory good to hear you are back in teh sun - would love to see you in Wellington sometime

11:17 pm  

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