After a lot of cruising we eventually arrived at Kapowai Bay. This is where Lois’ maternal grandparents lived and where she spent many school holidays. It is on the east coast of D’Urville Island just across from French Pass

This is the only photo I have of the house as it was, unfortunately any attempt to enlarge ends up a mess.


Here it is on the day we visited. A flood took out the old house. There are two creeks running through the property but it must have been some down pour.


Lois’ Grandfather was a launchman who did water taxi, fishing trips, scenic tours, moving freight and anything else he could do in his boat. His boat was called ‘Alamo’.

They had two children both born in Nelson, the first being my mother in law. Mother to be was run down to Nelson in the Alamo at a convenient time prior to the big day.  Must have been a fun ride.

French Pass – Village

After clearing the pass we went and had a look at the village of French Pass. Lois went to school here for a bit and her Mum was the Postmistress.

The road from Rai Valley was put through in 1957 and is reported to be one of, if not the best, scenic routes in new Zealand.


Closer look at the wharf.


Town Centre, mostly a holiday destination now but there are still farmers in the area plus fishermen. Pohutukawa flowering nicely.


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.




Merry Christmas

Looking down the main street (Trafalgar St.) of Nelson. Christmas is very low key here especially compared to the effort put into it in the UK.


We visited the market this morning, held every Saturday morning. It was packed. It sells everything from local crafts, fruit & vege, oils, soaps, bows & arrows, bread etc






To all our readers, have a merry christmas. Hope you are spending it with family but for those away from home I hope you manage to get in touch with them sometime during the day. Here’s to a great 2017 with some more adventures.

Best wishes to all those at sea on Christmas day.

Centre of New Zealand

A couple of days after we arrived Mark & I had a walk up the somewhat muddy track to the centre of New Zealand.


The spot itself.




The view looking over the city towards the port.


Looking the other way up the Matai Valley, nice walks and cycle paths up yon.


Looking from the marina toward the centre


Passage to Nelson

Our guests flew back to NZ so it was time to keep and eye on the weather and pick a departure date. Put it back twice but eventually it looked like we had a 7 days which would work, albeit with one day of 25 kts + approaching North Cape. Time to go.

We had used Asia Pacific Superyachts for the paperwork with our guests and they did another excellent job with the departure paperwork. Like other places once you get the clearance you don’t have long to let go.

Clearing the slip, by this time a number of boats had left for NZ and Australia – hurricane season the explains that.


Down the island heading toward the reef passage, a beautiful day.


Looking toward Musket Cove


Through the reef


Maybe not quite as calm outside


Goodbye to Fiji, an enjoyable two weeks. Good anchorages, friendly people, cold beer and warm weather.

The first day was OK, the second flat calm.


The third passable and then it got worse.


25 kts gusting 3o but a lovely 5 metre swell running through on an 8 second period.


Our first Albatross


We passed North Cape just after midnight, caught the tidal stream nicely and ran through at 11 kts. Our first site of NZ was off Taranaki. Didn’t see Mt. Egmont until later due to low cloud.


And then past my old stomping ground, Maui A platform.


The rest of the day was forecast for 25 kts but as we approached Farewell Spit it was a good 35 gusting 40+ with a rough beam sea. Even with the stabilisers we did some impressive rolls.

Arriving pleasure craft are not allowed to anchor in NZ so it was in and alongside at 0300. Customs and Bio-Security on the wharf waiting. Both were professional and courteous. Lois lost all her house plants and we lost all food items to do with birds including hard boiled eggs, any meat with bones in and any meat of doubtful or unidentified provenance. Plus any citrus including frozen sliced limes. The officer even wanted to take our breakfast but in the end let us cook the last of our bacon and the eggs in front of her and then took the shells and packaging.

18 years after we left we were back in NZ – what will we find.