French Pass

French pass is between D’urville Is and the mainland of the South Island. Tidal streams of upto 8 knots run through here and the passage is about 100m wide. You only go through with the tide although fast planing hulls do go through at any stage of the tide.

Approaching the pass from the south, running with the NE setting tide.


Getting closer, the beacon at the edge of the reef showing up


The tide starting to speed us up, kept the RPM at 1350 for a speed of about 8.2 kts


Getting a good look now


And the tide having a bit more of an influence


Almost there, at this stage I’m doing it by eye rather than the chart. Aiming to run into that smoother water. Sometimes, especially when the flow is at maximum, that smooth water is a very distinct V shape and you run straight into the V.


A series of photos as we go through. Looking to starboard.


To Port


Through, max speed observed was 14.1 kts. Note the variation from the heading (green line) and the course made good (red line). The Pilot Book warns about being set to starboard and running aground on the mainland by Collinet Pt.  but that wasn’t a problem.


The whirlpools to port on the down tide side of the reef, kept away from that area.



Looking back


That was fun.


Heading North

For a couple of reasons, such as no berth at Nelson Marina, we had to move round to the Havelock Marina in the Pelorus Sound. After departing Nelson we sailed passed Mackay Bluff. This is the source of the rocks and gravel that make up the Boulder Bank.


Looking up into Current Basin, South Island on the right, D’urville Island on the left and at the top is French Pass.


The next two photos are of Okuri Point. This is Lois’s Dads first farm which he farmed with his brother, Uncle Alan.

First is looking from the south.


Mustering sheep on this farm meant carrying a rifle. Any sheep that looked at though it was going to lead a mob over the bluffs was quickly shot. Pour encourager les autres.


A lot of land in the Marlborough Sounds has been purchased by people from the Northern Hemisphere. Some are rumoured to be survivalists who intend to flee here when mushroom clouds are expected up north.

A lot of the other farmland has proved uneconomic and been put into pine trees but at the top of the sounds there are a number of sheep farms still looking good.


Wine & Beer Tour

With the team recovered from the excitement of opening presents we spent a day doing a wine and beer tour. The bus picked us up at the marina to join another 3 couples who had the misfortune to book on the same day as the Kapowai crew. There was a couple from NZ, one from Aussie and one from Canada, who Owen (our Guide) managed to nickname “the grizzlies’. The tour was run by Bay Tours and they did an excellent job.

Our first stop was an organic vineyard, here are the vines. You can tell they are organic by the green leaves.


We tried 7 wines here and all were nice but their speciality wine ‘Blanc de Noir’ was very good.


Owen told us not to pat the dog but Lois had to and had a friend for life.


After that it was off to Seifried’s, a well known wine maker. The bus parked amongst the vines. These are not organic so they have green leaves.


The inside of the tasting area, our driver in the background.


Tasting session underway


Their most famous wine is a desert wine, ‘Sweet Agnes Riesling’.

After that it was off to lunch at the “Playhouse’. Lunch was fantastic. Here is the full team at lunch


We chose these two platters



When you finished you could feed the scraps to the eels in the lake, the ducks were usually too quick.


Then it was off to New Zealand’s oldest pub, not the first but the oldest that has been in continuous operation.  The Moutere Inn.

The road takes a big swerve to go past the pub, the story is the pub owner gave the road crew a keg a day to detour the planned route past the pub, which they did adding another 5 weeks to the contract time.


Jugs of local beer appeared and there was a few to try


Christopher’s photo after his second glass


Our last stop was at Bay Breweries where a few more local brews were sampled.

The Kapowai crew doing their bit


It was a beautiful day, sunny with a slight breeze. The tour was well done, busy but not rushed and Owen kept us entertained with local history and stories. The whole crew had a great day especially as the Captain paid. The Captain had a great day as he wasn’t driving.

Port Nelson

Nelson was picked out early as a potential site for settlement by the New Zealand Company because the Boulder Bank provided a sheltered anchorage.

The Boulder Bank is 13 km long starting at Mackay Bluff and ending off Nelson. It is a very unusual feature formed by the stones moving in a SW’ly direction at speeds up to 7.5m a year although the actual method is disputed. There is a huge tidal estuary behind the bank.


The above photo was taken from Wikipedia, Nelson in the distance. The bank is an important bird nesting area.

The Boulder Bank taken near the marina showing the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in the UK and brought over in bits and assembled. The lighthouse keeper had 12 children and rowed them over to Nelson each day for school.


Haulashore Island which used to be part of the Boulder Bank until the cut was dredged between 1903 – 05. Prior to the cut the entrance to Port Nelson was behind the island through a very narrow channel – groundings were common.


The cut, needs to be dredged every year.


Looking along the Boulder Bank from the cut, as you can see it provides an excellent breakwater.



Looking back at the port. It is New Zealand’s biggest fishing port. It is an export port for logs, apples, wine (why??) and fish products.