Kiwis take the Christmas Holidays very seriously. Everything shuts down and people often head to the beach, to a camping spot, or a bach (a Kiwi term for a holiday house). All of our activities – orchestra, horse riding, karate, etc. stopped for the summer/Christmas holidays so it was the perfect time for us to sail out of dodge and go looking for some blue cod!
We departed Nelson in what we thought was a great little weather window. As we had been living onboard in the tidal harbor, we thought we didn’t need to medicate for seasickness. Very soon we were out of the lee of Separation Point and the sea was UP, the wind was up (gusting over 30), and Banyan was screaming along hitting 8 and 9+ knots with her newly painted bottom. While we were all feeling a wee bit queazy, we managed. It was 10 days before Christmas and we slipped into Port Hardy on D’Urville Island thinking things might be busy. Not a boat in sight! Cameron and the girls ran off to hook some cod while I enjoyed the warm weather with a good book… and promptly got a sunburn in the intense Kiwi sun…ARGH!
From D’Urville, we sailed on into Pelorus sound to Tennyson Inlet where we hunkered down during a pretty solid blow. Cook Straights was seeing 50+ knots and we were seeing a good breeze tucked away in Hallum Cove. We weren’t too worried. With good ground tackle and solid holding, we prepared for Christmas, decorating the boat, listening to Christmas music, and making a gingerbread house (a McKendry family tradition) while sailing around on the anchor. When the wind let up we sailed further into Tennyson and enjoyed some walking and more fishing.
But Christmas was coming and we all wanted to head toward the Abel Tasman coast, where summer shows her face with turquoise lagoons and white sandy beaches. Happily, on our way, we ran into our friends on SV Magic Dragon (a local kid boat) and spent a few precious hours with them on the east coast of D’Urville as we timed our passage through French Pass.
The next morning Adelaide and Cameron woke before the crack of dawn to make the passage at the right time for the tides. You want to hit French Pass right at slack water and if you can, have a little current behind you. They were a tad bit early but all went smoothly and I think they enjoyed watching the sun come up while they headed out across the Tasman Bay with Isa and me sleeping like babies down below.
We had a lovely sail across the Tasman Bay to the Able Tasman National Seashore. This part of New Zealand is really special and quite unique on the South Island. The beaches are filled with soft white sand and many of the bays have little estuaries just behind the main beach that is accessible to small ‘trailer sailer’ boats at high tide through a natural channel. They get marooned back behind the main beach as the tide goes out and proceed to have a lot of good fun. Most of the bays are not accessible by road, only by a lovely network of trails.
We headed for Bark Bay to fill our water tanks and spent a luxurious day lazing around, swimming, and reading our books on the beach. We headed to “Anchorage” Bay where we dropped the hook and settled in for about a week of watching the world go by. We celebrated a lovely Christmas there peppered with swimming, catching up with friends who pulled in, lovely walks through the park, and generally just relaxing. We made a daily pilgrimage to the top of the hill to get a little cell service to check in with family and to see if we had a new niece!
Anchorage Bay is one of the busiest anchorages. It is also the most settled and not prone to the roll that can come in from the east, an exposure that many of the anchorages on the Able Tasman coast have. Although it is not accessible by road there is a cluster of baches and one very generous bach owner puts on an extravagant fireworks show at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We stumbled upon this last year and decided to repeat the experience.
After ringing in the new year in style, and with our dear friend Michael Jopson who’d recently brought up his boat from Dunedin, we headed back to Nelson to do a house sit for our friend Maggie who we’d met through Kiwihousesitters.com. We love looking after her place and it has the added benefit of being near our friends the Incendy’s as well as Barb and Patrick and their horse Turner.
Photo Caption: Tuner, the horse I’ve been riding, has really turned a corner and has been a very good boy, just in time for his owner to feel good enough to get back in the saddle. She also has a second horse who, I was told, would NEVER get in the trailer again… Challenge Accepted. After playing with him for 3 or 4 sessions, he is now confidently getting in and out of the trailer with ease. WIN WIN!
While we were there, we got the good news… Cameron received his formal offer of employment with Seresin Estate, requesting him to come to work for them as their Assistant Vineyard Manager! This is a position he has been really interested in and the courtship has been long and thorough. Seresin is a relatively small biodynamic and organic vineyard in the Marlborough Valley. They have a wonderful mix of varieties and the role is perfect for Cameron who is excited to spend more time in vineyard operations and animal husbandry.
With this in mind, Cameron and Adelaide left Isa and me at Maggie’s while they took Banyan on the three-day passage to Havelock Marina. It was a pretty big deal for Adelaide to take on the role of First Mate – of course, she did beautifully and they had a great time. Havelock is only about 30 minutes from Renwick driving, the town closest to Cameron’s new job. We had thought that we would have a grace period of about a month while we waited for his work VISA to be approved. Well, we were wrong. We were sailing out of Havelock Harbour taking a last hurrah in the sounds when I got the email with Cameron’s approved VISA. It took a total of 7 days! We did a 180 and set the anchor for our last night on the hook and then slipped back into Havelock early the next morning on the high tide. Cameron was off to work that same day.
We’ve just finished Cameron’s first full week of work and we are settling into our new routine. In a few weeks, we will move into a sweet little rental house in Renwick. It’s all a bit bitter-sweet with fun and convenient things to look forward to and also feeling sad to push pause on this amazing lifestyle we’ve been able to lead. No, we are not selling Banyan. The plan is to use her to get out on the water as much as possible.
Photo Captions, left to right: Adelaide, and Isa chowing down on some paua (abalone) which were collected by Cameron’s new boss. Scenes from Cameron’s new workplace. Isa enjoying a kiwi classic, meat pie.