Bay Hopping In Fabulous Queen Charlotte Sound

To our great relief, the morning we left Picton Marina was rather uneventful. Mark, one of the marina staff, came down to assist Captain Wrecking Ball and we were able get out of our slip and on our way without further incident. Thank you Lord!!!!

For the next seven days we hopped from bay to bay here in Queen Charlotte Sound. First we met up with our friends Lutz & Gabi and at Fence Bay just 4.77 NM away. On the way there we saw a couple of Hector’s Dolphin. These small (1.5 meter) animals are easily recognizable by their grey bodies and black, rounded dorsal fins. They are so cute I just wanted to reach down, pluck them from the water and give them a giant hug. 

Hector’s Dolphins are rated as Endangered by IUCN Redlist. According to their findings as of 2013 there was an estimated 7300 of these dolphin in and around South Island, New Zealand. New Zealand is the only place in the world where you’ll find these adorable creatures. Given the vastness of the sea it was a real treat to see a few of these dolphin and we feel grateful for the experience. 

We also saw this guy swimming along in the main channel.

Fence Bay is a quaint little bay filled with private moorings leaving little room for us to anchor but since it’s off season we were able to carve out just enough room for our two yachts. Dotting the mountains and shore are small bachs (cabins) in colors ranging from bright red to green to tan. Each bach seems to have its own wooden boathouse and dock. 

With excellent protection from northerly winds this bay was perfect for the two nights we stayed there. The water in the bay each morning was so flat it was a giant mirror reflecting the mountains rising high up from the shore to greet the deep blue sky. One morning we awoke to a beautiful fog atop of the perfectly still water. It lingered upon the water for an hour or so until the sun peaked over the mountains burning it away.

SuAn at Fence Bay
SV SuAn at anchor in Fence Bay

Dan and I took Sparkle on a tour of the surrounding bays, Mistletoe, Waterfall and Onahau. It was a perfect day for a dingy ride with bright sun and flat water. We even made a short video of our journey to send back home to my mama. Thought you might enjoy it as well.

Later that evening we were invited over to SuAn for a BBQ. As always we enjoyed an evening of laughter and great discussions over good food, cold drinks and amazing family.

Two days later we hauled our anchors and made the 6.38 NM trip from Fence Bay over to Kumutoto Bay where we were able to pick up a couple of the Mana Cruising Club moorings. We were preparing for what we believed would be some much stronger winds and it’s always nice to be on a secure mooring rather than at anchor when the winds begin to whip up. We never even left the boat here as the weather was a bit overcast, windy and cold. We just stayed below reading and enjoying time together.

The stunning scenery here never ceases to amaze us.

Resort Time At The Bay Of Many Coves

The following morning we left Kumutoto Bay headed to the Bay of Many Coves 7.99 NM away where we pulled a mooring in the small bay called Arthur’s Bay which lies just in front of the Bay of Many Coves Resort on the western side of the larger bay. They offer free overnight moorings if you spend a little jack in their restaurant or bar. Our hope was to make a booking for dinner later that evening but they were booked. We decided to do the next best thing and sit in the bar on the waterfront and enjoy a few frosty beers and some tapas with our friends.

That evening we all convened on Dazzler where Dan grilled a prime rib roast. Lutz brought over his guitar and Dan & Lutz kept us entertained with guitar and ukulele music while Gabi and I sang along. We joked that the guests at the resort must have envied us as the smell of the roast wafted across the bay and the sound of laughter and music filled the air. Ahh…it’s always so nice to enjoy an evening with friends on Dazzler.

Double Bay

The following morning we took the short 2.78 NM trip across Queen Charlotte Sound’s main waterway to Double Bay where we again picked up a couple of mooring buoys. One thing is for sure….we do not regret paying for the Mana Cruising Club membership to get access to free moorings. It certainly makes cruising in the sounds much easier and stress free.

It was a pretty gloomy day which we’re finding to be the norm during Autumn in the sounds. After everyone was settled and had a little time to get some work done on our respective boats we went over to SuAn where we spent a few hours playing Mexican Train Dominoes…one of our favorite pastimes. Gabi cooked up some wonderful, warm and tasty goulash and we followed that with some after dinner aperitifs. Another beautiful day in the sounds.

Dazzler on the mooring at Double Bay

Furneaux Lodge On Endeavor Inlet

Our next stop was Endeavor Inlet and the Furneaux Lodge which is named after Mount Furneaux. We took the long way here traveling around Blumine Island. Blumine is a bird sanctuary. With the detour it was 12.6 NM. We thought of stopping to do some hiking but decided we’d just take a ride around it and head on to the lodge. On the way we saw a few more of the Hector’s Dolphin and a small raft of blue penguins. I was in the height of my glory!

Blumine Island
It’s tough to get photos or video of the Blue Penguins because they are so skittish but here’s some okay video we managed to get.

We found the lodge at the very northern end of Endeavor Inlet. As most of the other resorts and lodges in the sounds do, Furneaux Lodge offers free moorings. They even offer free hot showers! Now THAT’s what I’m talking about. It’s been a little chilly showering on the deck here in the sounds. Much to my dismay I actually look forward to marina time and hot showers.

Dan and I arrived before our friends so we headed to shore to get acclimated and make sure our booking was all set for dinner that evening. From the moment we stepped foot on land we were completely enthralled with this delightful place. The lawns are perfectly manicured and the quaint black cottages line the open areas along the shore. Here they offer cottages, suites and even hiker’s cabins. You can stay for as little as $65 NZD/night all the way up to $520 NZD/night. 

Hiking is one of the main attractions in the sounds and the Queen Charlotte track runs right by the lodge. After our showers we sat outside and had a couple of beers at a picnic table. The entire time we were there we saw hikers coming and going through the track’s access point. 

At one point eight ladies showed up and sat at the table beside us. It was quite evident from watching them that they were all great friends and this was some sort of girl’s outing. They asked Dan if he’d take a photo of them and over time we began talking with them. They were interested in our cruising and I was very interested in their trip. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a girl’s only outing.

One of the ladies asked Dan what he did for a living before retiring. When he told them he was a CHiP they all started giggling and laughing. It was like a bunch of teenage girls who had met some movie star. Apparently we underestimate the impact the TV show CHiPs had on the Kiwis. We all got a great laugh over their excitement about meeting a real life Chippie.

We headed back to Dazzler shortly thereafter so I could do my hair and get ready for dinner. When it was time to go ashore we contacted the lodge and they sent Tori out on their tender boat to pick us up. This is a really nice service. Tori had life vests on board but we brought our own very special, bright orange ones that make me feel like I’m eight years old again.You have to do it…it’s the law here in the Marlborough Sound region of NZ so we do our part. 

We’ve learned that wearing a life vest in a tender is not the law everywhere in New Zealand rather it is a regional thing. Some regional councils require it and others make it optional. Of course it’s always recommended. It does make it a bit confusing for those of us who are traveling to many different areas but what can you do?

Tori is a delightful young lady who tells us she’s been working at the lodge for a relatively short time. She loves her job. Of course, it would be hard not to love a job that keeps you in this gorgeous part of the world and at a place so incredible. Thanks Tori for the safe rides back and forth to Dazzler.

On shore we met up with Lutz & Gabi and had a some adult beverages before they seated us in the dining room. We were the first to be seated on this evening and so we seemed to get extra special treatment. Adam, our waiter, was incredibly charming and very knowledgeable about the menu, the lodge and the area. 

Adam and I at the Furneaux Lodge

Unable to decide which of the awesome offerings they had on the menu we all opted for the “Feed Me” dinner. What’s this you ask? Well, the chef prepares a random selection of items and it is served family style as we call it in the south. That’s where they put it all in the middle of the table and everyone just digs in. This turned out to be a perfect meal and a wonderful way to end our two weeks of cruising the sounds with Lutz & Gabi.

After dinner Tori delivered us back to Dazzler and Lutz and Gabi showed up minutes later to deliver their garbage to us. Yes, you read that right. You see, we are headed into the marina tomorrow and they will be going back to Pelorus Sound and more remote anchorages. We offered to take their garbage to town with us. 

For those landlubbers in the group you probably don’t realize what an issue it can be to find places to get rid of your rubbish out here. In the islands we don’t seem to have much of an  issue as there always seem to be places for cruisers to dispose of it. In New Zealand we’ve found it to be much more difficult. We’ve had to get creative when away from a marina for any amount of time. Mostly we use very small garbage bags that we can drop into small, public garbage cans on shore. If there’s one thing we’d say New Zealand could do better it would be offering a place for yachties to dispose of their rubbish.

Trash delivered, the time had come to say, “Goodbye and fair winds” to our wonderful German family. They are headed a different direction back to Whangerie than we are so we will separate for a few weeks. Of course, we’ve become accustomed to this sort of thing. It’s part of the cruiser lifestyle. You come together, enjoy laughs and adventure then say, “So long” with the hope Fthat you will meet again somewhere in this crazy world. 

For us, it’s back to Picton to await a good weather window to allow us to head north up the east side of North Island. While we wait we will spend time at the Picton Marina where we can provision and enjoy a few nice meals in town. Then, sadly, we will depart this place where we’ve created so many new memories.

Until next time,

Jilly

Read about our adventures in Pelorus Sound…Click Here!

Author: Dan & Jilly

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