Passage to Stewart IslandDated: 01/03/08
Passage to Stewart Island
Lane at helm
Lane at helm
We have made it to Stewart Island and are safely anchored in Port Pegasus. We left Preservation Inlet and rounded the southwest tip of New Zealand (Puysegur Point) Thursday late afternoon. The prediction was for gale force winds from the northwest. Puysegur Point is notorious for storms and known to be one of the roughest regions in the world so we felt that we were lucky to only have gale force winds (25 - 35 knots). The best thing was that they would be from the northwest and since our course was for the southeast, they would be behind us. Also, if we could get around the corner and under the lee of the South Island we may get some protection from the rough seas.
When we set out the winds were very strong and we were flying along sailing 8.5 - 9 knots at times. We had the our #2 working jib set and two reefs in the main. Spray was everywhere and the swell was 4 meters high as we headed out to sea in order to gain some distance from land before turning southeast. We sailed like this for about four hours but as we turned south, and then southeast, the wind gradually eased as we hoped that it would. After six hours we had to turn our engine on to keep us moving as the wind had almost completely died. We ended up motoring across this treacherous body of water - and didn't mind a bit! It was like it had shown us what it could do and then decided to let us pass.
We motored all night and rounded the southwest tip of Stewart Island in a cold mist just at dawn as we had planned. It was such a barren and cold place that it made you feel you were at the end of the world, which we pretty much are. Twelve more miles and we motored into Port Pegasus. The name indicates a port/town. However, this could not be further from the truth. There isn't a soul anywhere, just granite islands and deep bays where only seals and penguins play. There is a small village on Stewart Island but it is another 45 miles to the north so we won't arrive there for another week.
There are storm warnings tonight for this whole area, 40 knots from the SE with 60 knot gusts. We are so glad we made the jump when we did and are safely anchored in a well protected bay.