The schooner Haparanda has fascinated, even obsessed, two generations of Lundmark men. It has taken 22 years of their lives and cost more than a million dollars. Lex Lundmark spent seven years building the schooner and his obsession knew no bounds. He built the entire boat except the engine "I even made the wheel myself," he told an Australian newspaper in the 1960s...
"Fear is the energy to do your best in a new situation. It was the process of creation that gave me pleasure. The end value we all seek is an emotional state. The willingness to do creates the ability to do."
The schooner Haparanda has fascinated, even obsessed, two generations of Lundmark men. It has taken 22 years of their lives and cost more than a million dollars. Lex Lundmark spent seven years building the schooner and his obsession knew no bounds. He built the entire boat except the engine "I even made the wheel myself," he told an Australian newspaper in the 1960s.
The two masts, 50 foot and 40 foot, were built at home and Lex had to knock a hole in a wall and build a room on the outside to fit them into the house. Because they were spruce, the masts had to be kept at a constant temperature so that meant keeping the heaters on all winter.
In February 1969 he and his is wife Jill set sail from Melbourne on a world tour tracing Captain Cook's footsteps around the Pacific. They were blown off course and eventually ended up at Port Pegasus on the Southeast side of Stewart Island. Jill was pregnant with her first child soon after they arrived in Auckland so the couple decided to settle in New Zealand.
Lex then decided that the 45 foot Haparanda needed modifying. His idea of modification was to cut the steel schooner in half so it could be extended to 70 feet. He told Jill it would take three weeks. It was not finished in his lifetime.
John and his two sisters inherited the Haparanda on their father's death. John realised the passion had been transferred through the generations and was now his.
But the schooner was in a poor state of repair so John was forced to strip it out and essentially start from scratch. It has taken him 15 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring the boat to super yacht class. That means it has the latest hydraulics, navigation and technology while still retaining the schooner's old world charm.
John's obsession has also cost his career as a civil engineer and a few girlfriends. "I couldn't give them - either my job or my girlfriends - the attention they deserved with my focus on the boat. It took everything out of me."
John has paid attention to even the smallest detail and the Haparanda is exactingly specified down to the 24 carat gold stripe on the hull and the superbly appointed saloon with the original wood panelling built by Lex and restored by John.
And it may not be just the Lundmark men who are fascinated by the Hapranda. This was in a New Zealand newspaper in 1969: "Like most proud and beautiful females she attracts a lot of attention and countless New Zealanders have already ogled her uncluttered line".
Racing in class yachts from bayside yacht clubs engaged me for two seasons after which I considered the rewards did not justify the travelling involved, since I lived some distance out of the city. I bought a carve' built sloop in which I cruised alone about Port Philip, an extensive and somewhat depressing bay which enjoys an international reputation for boisterousness and treachery, which if one may judge by its sudden and unpredictable changes of mood, is well earned. Lack of shelter lee shores and sandbanks abound providing suitable training grounds for amateur sailors who are prepared to acquire grey hairs in the process. If one could judge by the number of yachts sailing on Port Phillip in those winters I appeared conspicuously alone in preparing for bigger things.
It is interesting to reflect on the relationship of good cruising grounds to sailing activity in both Melbourne and Auckland. Between 1924, when Conor O'Brien bound for a climbing trip in N.Z. and return via Cape Horne, visited Melbourne and 1968, when Alex Rose called, Melbourne remained unvisited by internationally known yachts with two notable exceptions. The visits of Miles and Beryl Smeeton with John Guzzwell in Tsu Hangand Bill Nance in Cardinal Vertue passed almost unnoticed. And until Haparanda was launched many MelÂbourne yachtsmen had not seen a schooner rigged yacht. This may seem incredible to New Zealanders, and particularly to Aucklanders, whom sailing is a national pastime and differences in rig a matter of continual debate. The wonderful cruising about the Hauraki Gulf and coast of the North Island has stimulated a tremendous interest in sailing and the numbers of yachts bear witness to this. Melbourne with four times the population of Auckland and a poor cruising area, has only a fraction of the boats seen here. In size, variety and quality of finish the Auckland yacht is quite superior. Export of selected islands to the 700 square miles of Port Philip Bay would earn overseas funds for N.Z. and prove a boon to Melbourne yachties!
Meeting Jill put an end to more elaborate preparation, her enthusiasm and demand for a life involving travel be it land or sea proving just the catalyst necessary. By 1959 I was ready to start on a 45' heavy displacement yacht of about 18 tons, in which two people could cruise in comfort for up to a year independant of the shore.
Strength of gear was essential, and while the convenience of electrical gear, was desirable, it was essential that all such equipment be well supported by simple alternatives and easily handled by two. To meet such requirements I firstly decided on a steel hull. This overcame at one fell swoop the four major objections to a wooden hull. I consider these to be:-
The resistance of a steel hull to the latter treatment is extraordinary and is exemplified by the 40- Victorian fishing boat Pioneer, an indifferently built vessel"which when driven on to the Tasmanian coast could be heard a mile away to sound like a 44-gallon drum being thoroughly beaten. She was later dragged off and inspection showed her to be somewhat dented but whole. No doubt such inspection would have involved almost a Royal Commission in N.Z., but with no marine board to pontificate, she went back into service and is still afloat and working. A fisherman who hoarded the "Pioneer" at the recovery saw the bilge moving in and out some inches.
Peter Tangveld lost his yacht when he struck a floating tree in the Carribean, and a year ago a Wellington yacht, Matuku, was lost in the Tasman when its stern disintergrated after resting temporarily upon a rising whale. If it were a miracle that she struck the whale, it was equally a miracle that the crew were subsequently picked up. The possibility of such damage is greater in higher latitudes. Logs are common off the Canadian coast. Ill charted areas lie off both the South American coast and Southern New Zealand. Radar in the navigation of the sounds by New Zealand cray fishermen is useless in detecting the many sunken trees and consequently limits wooden vessels to daylight movement. Southland fishermen, a most conservative group, are looking with favour on the steel hull, as successful trapping depends on the setting of pots along the rocky shore itself, resulting inevitably in the occasional stranding. The possibility of suffering damage or of losing one's boat in any of these ways may be considered remote, but the danger exists none the less and is reduced or obviated by the use of steel.
If the use of steel offers great security it has inherent disadvantages, each of which must be studied very carefully in the planning stage as it is most difficult to overcome them later and an otherwise successful steel yacht can be ruined before it moves off the stocks.
Lex Lundermark standing on the bowsprit which was designed to be an integal part of the boat, being 15" wide it makes a very useful apendage.
As some kind folk in New Zealand have been generous enough to remark that the finish of the topsides is very smooth and glossy, and that they would not have known it was a steel hull, it may be opportune to discuss the paint finish here. From the time of sandblasting to the final coat, over 25 coats were applied, the last coats being sprayed on. Only at welds and other uneven spots was stopping applied, distortion being slight, due to the 30ft long plates and reduced welding footage compared to the diagonal plate lay up usually used in round bilge construction. Extremely fine paper was used and countless hours were spent rubbing down.
The long lasting gloss of the black topsides is due to the splendid qualities of Dulux's Durethane, a polyurathane finish not yet available in New Zealand. This newly introduced finish is living up to the manufacturer's claims; a life of many years with repaints occasioned only by the necessity to make good damage done by impact. Careless "fizz boat" drivers who, while moving to and from the launching ramp at Westhaven, have repeatedly proved this point, despite my efforts to protect the boat with a boom defence system of poles and ropes. If an apology is offered at all in these crises it is usually' accompanied by the information that "she was out of control". I can only assume they mean their speed boats and not their crews.
I did not sandblast the inside, this being almost impossible without dust and sand extraction equipment. I suspected then that the interior could be more difficult to maintain than the outside, when in commission, and went to some pains to do a thorough job. Oxy-acetylene flame brush cleaning followed by power wire brush and hand brushing removed all but the most tenacious millscale and rust. Treat ment with proprietory phosphoric acid solutions, followed by nine coats of industrial aluminium over a primer has completed the system where out of sight. In the engine space and forepeak this has been overcoated by enamels. So far, no corrosion is evident, but test scratching indicates that in some spots adhesion is not as good as that on the outside.
Over the steel deck I applied a ''1/4in layer of 5% chlorinated rubber in pitch. Into this were bedded planks of the white beech deck, laid to the African mahoghany covering board. Some 2,400 screws, secretly fastened, secured the deck for caulking. With the white, flexible, epoxide deck caulking I regrettably fell into the hands of thieves. Their much vaunted product with verbal guarantee of 15% expansion of the weather face, has in places shown its elasticity and adhesion to fall somewhat short of ther claims.
I am obliged to consider either eventual routing out and recaulking or extensive repairs within a few years. The deck timber white beech, comes from Queenslnd. Once known as grey teak it has qualities very similar to the highly esteemed teak, but is of lighter appearance.
We have kaleidoscopic impression of the work that followed; the uninterrupted completion of any one job seeming to end with the laying of the deck. The integration of so many jobs now seemed to cause endless holdups. In short, we were advancing on a frustratingly broad front. The ring main wiring system with 18 lights and the heavy wiring for three electric winches, shower, washing machine, fridge, pumps etc. was installed. The hull was insulated throughout with fibreglass and the under deck with polyurethane foam before fitting out. Three separate water tanks were installed under the floor, fillable from the deck. Realizing that the success of any cruise depends on the ease with which the anchor is retrieved, and planning to carry a half ton of 1/2inch tested chain, I made a hydraulic and elecric winch to permit fast recovery by two means. The chain can also be brought in by hand, -albeit slowly.
Due to a succession of catastrophes with the hydraulic system. I spent valuble weeks before I emerged only partly successful, a sadder and wiser amateur hydraulics engineer. The "simplicity of marine hydraulics", hs since moved inland to Canberra. Motto - Be wary of the friendly war surplus man and his product.
The importance of sandblasting a steel hull is such that any alternative treatment may be considered only a stop-gap. The presence of mill scale or mill bloom having a different galvanic potential to that of mild steel sets up myriads of tiny cells, causing corrosion of the mild steel and de-lamination of the scale, resulting finally in failure of the protecting coating. Sandblasting was of prime importance.
Quotes for sandblasting ranged from $300 to $1,000. We could only greet these glibly mouthed figures with the appearance one could expect of a freshly stunned mullet. An agonising re-appraisal of our resources forbade the hiring of these high priced gentry, so we hastily turned to the idea of hiring the necessary equipment. It seemed we need four to five tons of washed, graded, dried and bagged river sand, a compresser capable at least a hundred cubic feet-a-minute delivery and a suitable hopper, hoses and blasting nozzle. These were finally assembled on the site amid rejoicing and some trepidation. Rejoicing at the price-$38-and trepidation at the task ahead. I now feel that anyone who sandblasts for a living deserves a medal and regularly needs a new set of eyeballs and lungs.
In turning the site into a setting in which even the Desert Fox would feel at home we enjoyed a peculiar satisfaction; that of hunting out dirt and scale, detritus and filth, and like Old Dutch Cleaner, leaving all -clean-clean-clean. Working in relays with the help of friends, hampered with an inadequate hopper and a Mickey Mouse sized blaster, we sandblasted non stop for three 14-hour days. Then, with two coats of primer, it was all over, leaving us both with an incredibly long lasting film location for "Desert Heritage" and Jill with a badly strained back. We had used the original five tons of sand at least three times over, rebagging and reloading the hopper.
The first of these spooks is corrosion which plagues us in three forms; oxidation, galvanic action and corrosion by impressed current. I will not digress more deeply here as explanation of the chemistry involved may be readily obtained elsewhere. Any person contemplating steel construction would be well advised to understand it thoroughly before building, as neglect will almost certainly guarantee failure.
Oxidation or simple rusting may be overcome by thorough plate preparation which means sandblasting, and the application of suitable protective coatÂings. Galvanic action, corrosion due to potential differential between immersed materials is best contended by ensuring that there is no mixture of metals underwater. This means ideally a mild steel propeller, with all bearing surfaces nylon or rubber. All steel used in the hull must be of low carbon content (not more than 003%) and desirably of the one rolling mill batch. Sample welding rods must be welded to steel test pieces and subjected to analysis to obtain welding seams having the least potential disparity between the parent metal and the weld metal.
Sacrificial zinc base anodes of adequate size must be fitted to the underwater area by welding the backing bar to the hull. Bolting is inadequate.These anodes are now being increasingly used by fishing boats in N.Z. and are obtainable here. The small anodes available for yachts at ships chandlers are quite unsuitable for prolonged protection and should be avoided. Magnesium anodes usually prove too active and cause rejection of the surrounding paint film and antifouling; while only providing short-lived protection.
Both edges of the light key plates were to have the correct welding gap. To ensure this hardboard templates were G clamped to the hull, corrections being noted with pencil opposite each rib. The corrected template was then laid over a suitable plate like a pattern and transcribed. The chain block by which means the 30ft hull plates and heavy 1/4" keel sidings were hoisted up can be seen above.
My requirements other than that of the hull being steel, were for a yacht that could stay at sea for long periods if necessary, with a less voilent motion than that of many ocean cruisers, the crews of which tend to suffer fatigue before the boat. While I have, as a result, a boat with bilges somewhat more slack and a ballast ratio somewhat less than many yachts gracing the Waitemata, the motion is noticeably more steady.
I desired adequate bouyancy forward as I contemplated running before the seas of the Forties and considered a bowsprit was desirable to provide sufficient spread of sail and to provide an overhang for suspending and handling heavy anchors and chain well clear of the hull. I therefore considered the bowsprit a practical extension of the hull and planned it to be 15" wide. It has proved stable and safe in all conditions and we find no difficulty dousing or raising sail at any time. As a convenient gangway to a dock it has been successful in keeping the hull clear while providing safe passage to guests of all ages including art Octagenarian.
I cannot help feeling a very useful and practical appendage has fallen into disrepute because of the lavish desire to conform to fashions the origins of which are dictated by the designers of R.O.R.C. and C.C.A. rules.
A flush deck was mandatory for the resulting deck space, strength, and not the least, a sense of spaciousness below. I wanted no bulwark or toe rail. Their absence allows water to clear easily both in heavy weather and calm, as corrosion by warm water- lying behind that bulwark can cause so much unsightly rusting.
With a graceful sheerline, a fairly low least freeboard of 33", with a balanced and pleasing overhangs and a moderately long keel we were content with a beam of eleven feet on a water line of 35 feet. For two people the resulting internal volume appeared adequate but I believe that I would now increase the beam to at least twelve feet, if only to take advantage of extra space below. This of course would allow me to stow aboard the goodies I am reluctantly obliged to leave behind following any protracted stay in port.
In short Haparanda is what I felt incorporated all the best qualities of the many designs of ocean cruisers I had studied over the years. Being free to design a sizeable yacht for oneself, regardless of racing considerations, is a rare pleasure today, and one that I enjoyed to the full. In the year prior to our marriage the final drawings were made and Jill's mathematical abilities were impressively demonstrated as she wielded planimeter, slide rule and calculating machine at Melbourne University. Late one night the night watchman, while performing his rounds in the Science Building came upon us quietly pouring over our figures and reacted to our presence by producing a revolver with alarming speed. We quickly made our signal but little further progress was made that night.
Living on a steep hillside 800 feet up in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne I was beset by difficulties of a topographical nature. Heavy haulage contractors believed it impossible to extract the boat from the proposed spot, but being possessed of more confidence than accessible building sites, I decided to cope with that problem later and made a start in 1960 by removing twenty odd trees and digging out a shelf upon which the frames could be set up. The difficulty of access may be appreciated by the fact that the truck delivering the first four ton load of steel plate could not be backed down the drive to the site. Using a 10 ton tree puller Jill and I winched the load the remaining distance after five hours of cranking and the long bereaved loss of our anchor tree. Tree lovers while not usually numerous in yachting circles , may note that our sorrow was not entirely due to the existent situation.
Although round-bilge hulls are now commonly built with rollers, there was ten years ago no evidence of success if one could judge by the results sailing on Port Phillip Bay. Rollers hired from Sydney at great cost and used in Melbourne had produced some very lumpy vessels. Plating was usually done in four foot long strips 18-wide, applied diagonally. Fifteen hundred weight of electrodes was used in one yacht followed by hundreds of pounds of filler, almost all of which fell out later. This distressing situation was not alleviated by the necessity to weld 300 separate spots. mainly along the seams, caused by corrosion due to a wiring blunder. Electrolysis had resulted, causing a rejection of the protective coating and filler.
Being unimpressed by steel hulls that resembled Aunt Maud's quilt, we had decided upon a multi-chine construction requiring no rollers, and proposed to use seven plates a side. Each 30 feet in length. These "strakes" would "wash out" into a large bow and stern plate and eliminate an unsightly concentration of welding, as the chines closed at the ends.
Plate cutting and welding causes a contraction along the edges resulting in a fullness, or round to the plate. This was allowed to remain, no effort being made to force the plates into the frames.
We had prepared these frames on a huge table, erected under the house, room for which had been made by removing the stumps and bracing interfering with the work area. Until the stumps were replaced, it was unfortÂunate that the doors of some of the rooms could not be closed. The deck beams had been shaped and welded in position, so that it only remained to set them up, by concreting them into the ground, after aligning them correctly by means of piano wire. As the hull was built upside down the frames acted as a dressmaker's model serving to support the shell which, while being set up, was only tacked lightly to the frames. During welding it was interesting to observe these tacks break away, allowing stresses to dissipate and giving the hull the opportunity to resume a fair shape.
The only disadvantage to building upside down is that the interior must be welded overhead. Working inside a dark hull in mid summer heat while welding overhead produced temperatures of 120 quite readily, and as welding progressed from the keel down, the heat and fumes being unable to escape provided an atmosphere somewhat less than salubrious.
The keel bottom thickness is 5/8", kee; sides and garboards 1/2, 1/4' while the rest of the hull is 3/16". The thicker the plate the fairer the result. 1/8" steel is far too light to give fair results and in welding it distorts badly even with care. I had determined to make hull of pressure vessel quality and so before commencing the backstep sequence of downhand welding on the outside, I ground out all welded seams and inspected closely all the previous work, carefully removing any traces of slag or inclusions and rewelding where necessary.
The last heavy job was turning the boat over almost within its own width. After being assured by a crane operator that it was a difficult job requiring two cranes, strongbacks and extra men, we rejected their expensive quote and did the job ourselves with a tree puller , which happily pulled the boat over before pulling out the trees. While on its side, we winched the engine up a ramp, into the hull, chained it down and continued turning. The overturning and setting up of the hull occupied two days.
During the 18 months it had taken to reach this stage I had been working in Melbourne up to 65 hours a week, with a 50 mile drive and every available moment had been spent on the boat. We derived a tremendous boost from seeing the boat set right way up and looked forward to the next stage in the building of Haparanda.
With all respect to Mao Tse Tung, the year in which turned Haparanda's hull right way up was that of our great leap forward. To those visitors who came to upwey, in Melbourne's Dordenong ranges at that time there must have appeared ample evidence of our satisfaction with progress. Once gaunt and haunted, I now appeared plump and buoyant, happily deluding myself that the completion of the hull indicated a promise of the end in sight.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, but happily no maritime prophet appeared to depress our spirits with the realities of the situation and so we continued to press on, sustained by our hopes and delighted with progress we were making, and the reality of having a 45ft steel hull actually towering over us.
After gas cutting the sheer and providing the deck openings with flanges, we laid the deck in 14 guage steel sheet, a seemingly straight forward task, which upon completion bore, due to welding contraction, a marked resemblance to the proverbial Aunt Maud's quilt. The distortion and buckling was appalling. I had, however seen panel beaters; men, who incidentally enjoyed "most assured future" in Australia, shrinking the surplus metal on motor body panels by heating the excess metal to a red heat, fairing by hammer and finally qenching. Experiments along these lines, encouraged by the knowledge that we had little to lose (as we could hardly lay a wooden deck over such a lumpy surface) made me so proficient in the elimination of bumps that I was soon hunting out and rectifying spots that I had formerly considered acceptably smooth.
At all points of stess plate thickness was increased to as much as 1/4inch to provide adequate strength. At this stage consideration was given to the chain plates. After shaping, drilling, bending and galvanising these 3 inch and 1/2 inch steel plates were inserted in slots in the deck and welded to the inside of the hull plating. While I finally chose the schooner rig, a rig that I am most unlikely to change, I did not overlook the difficulties of altering it at a later date. There is provision for changing the rig to a ketch or a cutter. In the case of the ketch schooner change, the masts, booms and most sails are interchangable. As the sail plan for a ketch rig was worked up with as much care as that of the schooner, I should be surprised if it did not balance as well, the weather helm of the Haparanda being met by finger pressure only; but more of that later. Preparation and welding of the steel bulkheds at the intervals determined by our idea of the accomodation, and the fixing of the engine bearers completed the steel work and the hull was ready for sandblasting.
It may be convenient at this stage for me to briefly describe the layout of the boat, when completed. Forty five feet long with a beam of 11ft, the flush deck is broken by a low 15 inch high house aft of the main mast. Skylights and vents allow light and air below. There are no ports in the sides. Desirable though they are, the risk of sailing the boat under does exist. Under the cockpit and bridge deck, separated from the accomodation by steel sound deadening bulkhead, is the engine compartment.
The engine , an air-cooled, two-cylinder 20h.p. Petter drives forward and then down by vee belts to a shaft parallel to and below the engine and the 70 gallon fuel tanks. The problem of hot air is managed by drawing fresh air from the separate accommodation forward, though the fan flywheel and into the engine room space. From here it is extracted by a belt driven turbo-supercharger from a wartime bomber, and pumped through a trunking system to a small after deck vent. By using a 4-speed gear box in the drive, various speeds can cope with different ambient temperatures, and also the whole boat can be warmed and dried out as bountiful quantities of hot air are available. Also in this space is a large 24 volt generator charging a 225 amp/hour, 25 plate battery and a seprate 12 volt generator caring for a 12 volt system of the same capacity. A 1h.p. charging point is a stand by, unused as yet, in case the main engine is ever out of sorts. An engine-driven bilge, pump, refridgeration compressor, hydraulic windless pump and air compressor can be made operable by engaging a clutch. The 8 1/2 cubic feet per minute compressor pumps to 150p.s.i. into a statinless steel air receiver and provides filtered air for diving to over 100 should some develish undersea work be contemplated. Furthermore the two spare inflatable dinghies can be blown up conveniently and the large kerosene stove tank pressurised, likewise the fresh water storage system. While I have yet not used it as a spray paint plant, I carry the spray gun and paint aboard.
Forward of the bulkhed and below the low house is the stainless steel gallery, to starboard with fridge cabinet and swung stove, while opposite is full sized chart table with drawers below and a two-way 60 watt transceiver and an electronic auto-pilot above. An electric washing machine which doubles as an oilskin locker occupies the after corner.
On the port side a U shaped dining seat accommodates five comfortably, while the table, which is swung by a hydrauliclly dampened 80lb weight can be lowered and pressed into service as a double berth. Bookshelves and a glass fronted bookcase for an encyclopedia surround this area. Opposite, to starboard, a long and wide settee is backed by a fully padded pilot berth which provides superb comfort at any angle of heel. The upholstery is in deep buttoned olive green vinyl and the woodwork panelled in teak and Moreton Bay chestnut, otherwise known as black ben, a sub tropical timber, possessing a particularly pleasing grain. A tape recorder and record player are housed in a cabinet at the forward end.
Through a sliding door, a short passageway has a large hanging wardrobe to starboard and a porcelain handbasin, shower and head in a tiled compartment to port. Linen and first aid is kept in lockers outboard and above the basin. Another sliding door at the forward end of the passage allows entry to the forward sleeping cabin which has a dressing table and his-and-hers" lockers to starboard, while to port is a double berth with extensive stowage under it . This cabin is panelled in Queensland maple. At the forward end a hinged door to starboard gives access to the fore peak housing sails, gear and chainlocker. Stowed behind and below these furnishings is food for about 12 months if necessary and in exchange resins for the conversion of salt water to fresh.
The last and most trying task was the masts and fittings. Being uncertian as to how I would repair or jury rig a collapsed alloy mast, I decided to obtain Alaskan or Silka spruce spars and after some months' delay, lugged into the house four 40ft and four 50ft planks and other assorted lenths. The carpets were rolled up and all normal activity was completely disrupted as we built a bench running through the living room, dining room, passage and into a temporary structure to house the excess length. With air-conditioners and two coal heaters we raised the temperature to 80F in a Victorian winter for several weeks. This provided a suitable atmosphere and with the moisture content of the timber at 12-14% we glued and cramped using 200 battens and about 200 bolts.
I spent six months full time on stainless fittings and winches and finally with the help of enthusiastic friends raised the masts and set up all the rigging to the exact length. The sailmaker Jeff Arnall measured up. The masts were lowered carefully and stowed on deck. Storing up commenced, gear was put aboard and transport for the journey of 35 miles was finally solved. New regulations for the moving of such loads caused us some anxiety with the permit being finally obtained only the day before departure.
Our attention during this time had not been soley on the boat as the house after seven years neglect needed a complete facelift. While I renovated a repaired, Jill courageously painted inside and out the large eight-roomed house. At this time, providentially, a couple appeared, who with a family of three have proved good tenants and have occupied the house for two years now without damaging the rather nice one acre garden. In all other respects the transition has been complete; we feel we have never lived ashore, but we miss that lovely old garden with its winding paths through large trees, rhododendrons and azaleas.
On the day we left our home to move the boat to Upwey ready for a dawn getaway for Melbourne, I was staggered to see a great mobile television van arrive, the crew of which literally took over, insisting that we be interviewed for a national news telecast. When we reached the township there were literally hundreds of people around the boat. Their enthusiasm was tremendous. As only half a dozen locals had ever called in in seven years it seemed like some sort of crazy dream in which we were on all sides accosted by friends we did not know. One thing is certain, in Upwey they love schooners.
The journey to Melbourne was uneventful apart from the aniety we felt as the 90ft outfit reached 40 mph odd and the boat bounced out of its cradle one more than on occasion, denting the hull slighly. When asked for an explanation of this cross negligence, the irrepressible carrier nonchantly replied. "Better ask me the next question, Lex, I can't think of an answer to that one yet".
A few days after we arrived at The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Alex Rose arrived in Lively Lady, and in the following weeks we had the opportunity to get the know that charming quiet man.
During winter we made another night trip to Refuge Cove in gale force winds which exposed weaknesses in fittings, stowage and ourselves. The first two we could remedy, but as our personal weakness is chronic and severe mal-de-mer, we could do little but accept our lot, advice once given freely to the poor by the rich.
All voyages to be successful require careful planning. Food stores, equipment spares, tools are obvious considerations. Not quite so evident is the time of the year to avoid, in visiting certain areas. As we intended clearing for Bluff, N.Z. a study of theweather likely to be experienced in the South Tasman sea and Fiordland coast was important. As more consistently even weather was expected in autumn. a mid-summer departure for the south was not too late, a fear entertained by some friends .
Leaving Fortescue Bay under power we passed close to the Lanterns, a rocky headland characteristic of the bold nature of the Tasmanian coast.
At this point I should perhaps mention the auto pilot, devised and built by a friend, Gerry Harrant, who among many other fine qualities possesses an outstanding capability with electronic and electrical equipment. One hour before we sailed for New Zealand Gerry sat on the deck typing out the operating instructions. A spell of fine weekends had not allowed testing to his satisfaction so in setting out the procedures he included details of what to adjust should such and such result from different sea conditions. The fact that it steered the yacht down the Tasmanian coast to Hobart and across the South Tasman Sea for eight days with only minor adjustments speaks for his ability. Using printed circuits which can be replaced by plug in spares the black box employs an original principle which has a maximum demand of 2 amps. There was no need to charge the batteries all the way across to N.Z. Haparanda, displacing 18 tons, is steered with the appropriate gearing by a windscreen wiper motor. Farwelled by 80 friends and wellwishers we departed the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria with a splendid escort of yachts from the club. In the year we had lived aboard we had made some good friends there, and it was encouraging to have them send us off in that manner. One by one they dropped away until we were left alone with the lights of Melbourne far behind.
We cleared Port Phillip Heads the following morning and reached Deal Island in the Kent Group where we sheltered from an easterly blow for three days. Threading our way through the outlying rocks of Flinders Island, we passed Runt and Preservation Islets where the Sydney Cove floundered in 1795. Bound for Sydney and Calcutta via Tasmania with a cargo of rum, the effective currency of the colony, she struck during darkness. The survivors clung to the bare rocks until daylight allowed them to set up camp on Preservation Island. In a patched up boat 18 men crossed Bass Strait and unaware of the vast distance involved, set out to walk to Sydney. Found by a passing vessel south of Botany Bay only two emaciated walkers had survived the journey to tell of the others remaining on Preservation Island. Having ample time on their hands those remaining had observed swell, tide and current movements which suggested a passage to the westward. Their report led to the investigation by Bass and Flinders, resulting in the discovery of Bass Strait.
Through Banks Strait and south we passed Maria Island where during the Maori Wars, chiefs likely to be a nuisance to the British were banished from N.Z. Rounding the monumental 900' Cape Pillar, we entered Port Arthur to where 67,000 men had been transported when Tasmania was little more than a slave state. Across Eaglehawk Neck linking the Tasman Peninsular to the rest of Tasmania, a line of savage, chained dogs proved an effective deterrent to would be escapees. From the depressing remains of the penal settlement with its dismal ruined cells, we sailed in beautiful sunshine to Hobart and enjoyed the hospitality of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for a few days, before pressing on south, past Adventure Bay, where Cook and Bligh rested their ships. At Recherche Bay we anchored off the Catamaran River to where D'Entrecasteaux had voyaged from the Western Australian coast in search of fresh water in 1793. In all, the wild and beautiful coast of Tasmania must have changed little since those early days, as during our trips about most of it rarely was a farmhouse or road seen, many towns being concealed up estuaries and rivers.
Typical of tasmani's unique, rocky costline are the high basaltic colmns of Cape Raoul, as viewed from Hapranda's cockpit.
Departing the Hunters with squaresail set we logged 10 knots running before strong westerlies. With the mainsail furled the centre of effort of the sail plan now moved well forward allowing us to steer with little effort. During these experimental times I was using for a squaresail the main course of the "Bintang Terang", a huge Singapore yacht cum trader, that had taken part in the Sydney-Hobart some years before. This sail, hand sewn in Holland, was meant to be reefed by fisting it up to the yard presumably with a crew of oriental gentry who were sadly missed when I went forward to douse the monster. By pulling one line at the deck, I brailed in the head of the sail like a curtain on a track. With ropes I dragged the clews together. But having omitted to provide brails to the belly of the sail, I now found myself careering through the gathering gloom with something like a German sausage, slit lengthways, strapped to the foremast in a rising gale south west. Climbing to the yard I found I could actually stand on the bulging sail-hanging on like the devil himself, of course. A strong gust finally solved the problem by taking control of the vessel and heeling her over. Rounding up, the sail became momentarily aback, whereupon I seized the collapsed upper portion and that gave me the advantage. Slowly I gained control and lashing it to the foremast, returned to the deck outwardly nonchalant, inwardly rattled, but secure in the knowledge that however favourable the winds, that sail would never be used again without brads. The new synthetic course we now use is generously equipped with brails and collapses as it is drawn in to the mast. At regular intervals up the sail the brails go out to the edge of the squaresail, return the other side and are connected to a common downhaul. The square topsail of course does not require brails as the inhaul on the upper yard is adequate to control it after the upper yard has been lowered to its resting position about two feet above the main yard. Incidentally the total absence of chafe with the square rig is most pleasing.
East of Devonport the coast loses the magnificence of the bold rocky promentories that is characteristic of the western part, and we lost interest in prolonging our return crossing of the strait. A passage through Bass Strait, known since its discovery by Surgeon George Bass for its wild nature, is made particularly dangerous by the presence of King Island and its reefs at the western end and the granite tops of the sunken Bunnerong Range at the eastern end, which once connected Australia and Tasmania. These Islands and rocks scattering south from Wilson's Promentary can be a nightmare should the weather worsen. Eminently suitable names such as Cutter Rock, Crocodile Rocks, Devil's Tower and Cone Islet indicate the nature of the dangers in this area. Later on our way to New Zealand we were to shelter at Deal Island in the Kent Group about halfway across and found its wild beauty to he the equal of any island we saw on the Tasmanian coast.
At dawn in boisterous weather we threaded our way through the most dangerous area and reached Refuge Cove on Wilson's Promentory later that day. This cove, the only really secure haven for a yacht east of Port Phillip, well deserves its name. A popular spot for yachts at Christmas or on passage to the tropics and return, it is inaccessible by road and therefore, one would hope, presents to the visitor an example of natural Australian beauty. Not so. On the huge granite houlders literally gallons of white paint have been expended to advertise in letters up to ten feet high not only the names of visiting boats but sundry skin diving clubs and the virtues of certain beers. However, it is a refuge, albeit a polluted one. The trip from the Prom. to Port Phillip was made in a northerly which conveniently turned southwest at the Heads, giving us an easy passage home.
Leaving Recherche Bay after a salad lunch, eaten contemplatively in the security of those calm waters, we rather tensely secured all we thought could shift and nosed out beyond South East Cape to meet the southern Ocean of which I had read so much. Albatrosses and yellow headed gannets wheeled overhead as we rose and fell on a great ground swell rising from the South West. On the swell, waves broke and we crashed through their tops as we sighted the Eddystone slowly rising ahead like a great block tower. At the Eddystone, discovered by Captain Cook in 1777 we checked the log, turned left and steered for Preservation Inlet. For three days we made slow progress with the light winds at east and north as we moved in the eye of the high for which we had waited in Recherche Bay. Preffering to depart a port with a rising glass is, I feel, good practice, so one can hardly complain about the slow progress. Unknown to us the advancing low was to provide us with an embarrassing abundance of wind and sea.
Mindful of unthinkable disasters in those now unfrequented waters I was reluctant to sever ties with my usual habitat, the shore, and attempted to maintain contact with Hobart Radio, an institution which while much more casual and matey than N.Z. shore stations is equally efficient. Our new set, the latest 60 watt model from a western Sydney firm proved to be a lemon. And while they shut everyone else up in no uncertain manner, they could only guess from our faint signal we were calling them and soon afterwards did not hear us at roll call time.
Sailing by dead reckoning without sight of the sun, with only occasional inspection by albatrosses we sailed over those dreary wastes as a general worsening in the weather reduced visibility to about two miles. The APE (auto pilot extraordinary) did the steering. We maintained a watch of four hours on and off. Progressively we had shortened sail from all the 900 square feet in the lower fore and afters and one day with the squaresail, until we were reduced to the boomed out 70 sq ft inner staysail. All the 8th day we ran before a gale at northwest, the alarm on the ape occasionally blaring out as if in protest at its inability to cope with such an uncouth sea. Attached by lifeline I furled the staysail before dark and stowed it well. During that night the wind and sea rose, and lying on a plastic sheet on the saloon sole, I observed quite dispassionately quite extraordinary things happening to books and other impedimenta about us. Over the background roaring, I began to detect a deeper sound and observed by spreader lights that the sea had, as the mid Victorian novelists would say "assumed most alarming aspect".
The cockpit was now regularly filling with pooping and white water crashed aboard and swept over the deck. Just after daylight I streamed 260 ft of 5 in hawser and with lifeline attached and several turns of mainsheet about my waist, began steering in deadly earnest. The value of the autopilot now proved itself. Had we been steering watch and watch from Australia, we would have been low in spirits and stamina, but in spite of the cold (our latitude being 48 south) I felt buoyant and fresh. Jill joined me in the cockpit and we sat lashed in, side by side. It was now impossible to look astern, when near the tops of the waves, but happily I could control effectively any sign of broaching as the yacht was steady and responsive. The deep booming, as great seas collapsed leaving great areas of white foam now became more regular. I became keenly aware that the sea was a pitiless place. Jill cried out that the sum log had recorded 16 knots on one precipitous rush. I noted the furled main staysail, which had snapped its halyard the previous morning, now began to show signs of awakening and the topsail was slowly but surely escaping its lashings and was streaming out like a distress signal. I shunted their existence out of mind until a more suitable time. Shivering with cold from the seas regularly swamping us, and we could only take St Peter's advice and "Be sober and hope to the end."
Without any point of reference, I consider it vanity to estimate the height of waves and the strength of the wind. In the troughs there seemed hardly any wind and the surface appeared to be covered with long streamers of white foam. I could not even determine whether it was heavy rain or spray that filled the air and lashed against my oilskin hood. Soon after Jill's remark on our progress the stern lifted higher until it reached an alarming angle. We heard an appalling sound behind and over us. I cried out to Jill "Hold" and we were submerged, buffeted in whiteness-then dark and all was still. Jill's first thought upon surfacing was for the mast, mine recall clearly, for the main hatchway. I was now convinced our progress was too fast and while my wife steered with great care, I streamed a further 200 ft of 5 in nylon, cast off one end of each warp to ensure that the lines reached back well beyond the threatening seas, into what I shall call slower water. This slowed us to about five knots and I felt somewhat cheered up, probably due more to the fact that I had done something constructive, rather than having proved anything. In future I shall drag motor tyres far astern, releasing along the warp, extra tyres as conditions progressively worsen.
An inventory revealed that we had lost a life buoy probably now on its third voyage around the world, two knives, one on a lanyard, sundry lines and more important, the heavy bronze vents on the house were gone, one having removed the top of the dorade box in departing. It was clear from quick inspection that we had taken water below but as little could be done at that time we stuffed towels into the apertures and carried on steering, carefully taking the seas stern on, growing confident now that while we could keep the water away from entering the boat it was only a matter of sticking it out.
In the conditions I have described I could not have taken a photograph without a protective and waterproof housing. At the risk of damaging ourselves and the certain destruction of the camera, a picture could not possibly have conveyed the sense of involvement we felt and the mere consideration of the physical effort involved in taking even a light meter reading effectively squashed that diversion.
Late that day the wind dropped a little, changed to south west and for a short while blew with renewed vigour before easing. With the fall in wind, the opportunity to clean up offered itself, a formidable task, particularly for Jill who did not once complain, although she had been unable to retain food or water without retching abominably during the previous three days.
The first thing was to clear the bilge as we had taken an enormous amount of water for a steel boat, the level being just below the floor boards. The force with which the water was driven in, through the most unlikely places, was extraordinary. We had scaled with electrician's tape all sky lights thoroughly before leaving Research Bay so while most of the water was driven in when we had been overcome, a great deal had entered via the closed hatch, which, to provide convenient entry and egress, cannot easily be made water tight. Furthermore consideration of the fact that the simplest act is nigh impossible, rules out clever clamping and sealing devices. The main companionway is I feel the weak spot.
Our main concern however was for our position. With no sight of the sun for Five days, running before the wind and sea as we had, we were anxious about our proximity to the Snares. The possibility of having passed Steward Island could not be overlooked. A D/F radio fix was out of the question, as affected probably by the steel hull, the expensive U.S. D/F set had proved absurdly unreliable. However, inspection of the Admiralty radio signals revealed that there was D/F equipment at Bluff. I attempted contact with Awarua Radio at Bluff in an attempt to establish our position line in relation to them, by allowing them to take bearings of our radio signal while we transmitted. Awarua Radio, represented by a precise and well modulated voice, came in loud and clear.
Arrangements were made to ready the D/F equipment housed in a separate shack and while we stood by these plans were interrupted by an infuriating dumper which came down the hatch as Jill and I emerged, driving us back and flooding the chart table, the auto pilot and radio, a satisfactory means of terminating a conversation which could be a recommended method of coping with radio hogs on the small ships' channel. I would strongly encourage anyone installing a set, to put it at the forward end of the saloon. With Kleenex, pencils and anti wetting sprays, between retching I temporarily restored the transmitter only. This treatment had occupied about two hours. With Jill on deck holding a portable receiver set in a plastic bag we miraculously re-established contact with Bluff.
With a gale out for the whole area, the Awarua radio chaps were very thorough. The news and traffic to small ships, dozens of which were in the Fiords crayfishing, was put back some 45 minutes. Of that we were unaware at the time. The traffic between us was taped and not less than four attempts to determine our bearing were necessary. Once believing this to be an easy business I now know better. The position line resulting from our faint signal we were to the westward of Steward Island, but this did not agree with our DR which placed us to the south of Stewart Island and which proved subsequently to be correct.
That night we lay ahull and after carefully going over the log, Jill and I concluded that the DR was the most reliable indication of our position and before dawn we set the inner staysail and then the small jib and steered to the north east. Jill at the wheel, the drowned APE being byond resuscitation, sighted what appeared to be mountain peaks early in the day.
Progressively raising sail we steered all that day towards a mountainous coast. Long discussions ensued. If it was Fiordland, where were Solander and Stewart Island'? If Stewart Island we must beware of the Traps. The land, which upon inspection revealed itself to conform to the shape of the south coast of Stewart Island, looked magnificent as we raced along a bare half mile off. It was Port Pegasus or the bush, before dark for us and we unrolled more and more main in a fabulous sail with breaking crests and wheeling seabirds about it.
The engine fired up reliably at the narrow southern entrance and we turned and beat painfully under sail and engine, into our first introduction to the ferocious winds that can funnel out of the fiords and channels of N.Z.
Barely discernable in the gathering dark were the features of Port Pegasus, roughly conforming to the 1849 chart of Captain Stokes in the Acheron, still the latest. Jill had providentially produced this essential chart from her drawer of navigational goodies. This confirmed good advice that we had had, that being, that one should not be too parsimonious when ordering charts for a proposed cruise. Deserted and quite unchanged from their original state the arms of this dark harbour reach away between rugged ranges. The anchor a 501b CQR which we have ready to go when within five miles of land, roared away and eagerly bit into N.Z.
That night of March 21, my birthday, was spent enjoying a magnificent dinner of soup, chicken, vegetables, plum pudding and champagne. While the yacht sheered about as if in acknowledgement of a south-west gale outside, we slept the sleep of the just, unaware that the men of Awarua Radio, with no answer now from our defunct radio, fearing that we were on a lee shore, had notified the Search and Rescue Organisation who swung into action immediately.
Port Pegasus, Stewart Island. This southern most harbour in New Zealand offers shelter from all winds. Here with gun and line, one could live off the land in grand style. The narrow South entrance can be seen with the Pigeon House.
The chartered Search and Rescue plane piloted by Captain Poole departs. Some of the warps used to trail astern can be seen on the deck.
Unlike the situation in New Zealand, no regulations whatever restrict Australian yachtsmen from sailing deep sea, and while I believe in thorough preparation I feel that once I leave the imagined safety of society ashore, I am on my own. Sending a Mayday just did not occur to us. When extracts of a recorded interview with the NZBC were later broadcast througout New Zealand it appeared that I was dismayed that the search had been started. I was, but only because of the possibility of accident and expense to the searchers. As it happened the R.N.Z.A.F., controlling officer was interested in our movements at the time and appeared in no way put out by the false alarm. Good experience in that area, he pointed out.
We were encouraged by Captain Poole to remain where we were until conditions abated and not to risk a trip to Bluff with the winds, recorded at Centre Island lighthouse blowing in excess of 60 knots. We watched their efforts to take off with great anxiety. Disturbed and guilty that we had precipitated a search in which the lives of these cheerful men had been risked, we worked on, soberly considering the value of a radio transmitter.
Even without sending out a Mayday we had by the very use of a set which had subsequently failed in transmission, started an operation in quite bad weather in which so many were involved.
While I counsel no reader to disregard the value of a radio, I personally will avoid all contact with shore stations from now on and rely entirely upon my own resources. With the exception of the attempts made by technicians to improve the quality of transmission, the radio has not since been used to contact the shore. We are equipped with an efficient lifeboat transmitter with which we intend to salvage ourselves from the ultimate disaster, and I intend to use the radio transmitter, only in the case of needing medical advice-an international radio service. This of course, presumes a first class medical locker is carried aboard.
The coast of Stewart Island, passed on passage to Bluff was just magnificent. Between Port Pegasus with its lonely channels and bays, to Patterson Inlet the long bush clad arms of Lords River and Port Adventure, had a dark beauty that I have not since seen. Names like the Snuggery, Sarah's Bosom and Little Glory abo-Und and aptly describe the value of the anchorages to the early sailors. These harbours evoke an awareness of the early whaling days, when tough and often ruthless American and British whalers knew these shores and inlets as well as the Stewart Island fishermen know them today.
After entry at Bluff, where we spent a few days, we returned to Oban at Halfmoon Bay, the Stewart Island settlement, where we spent three weeks, meeting Jack and Norma Crooks in "Turangi", which was subsequently capsized and dismasted off the East Cape of the North Island. On their cruise up the coast, without auxiliary power, Jack and Norma encountered what I found to be the characteristic New Zealand coastal conditions. Either not enough wind or too much.
The value of a powerful auxiliary was brought home to me with impressive clarity while cruising in Patterson Inlet. Intending to return to Halfmoon Bay as the anchorage in which we lay behind Iona Island was proving insecure, we ran for the entrance under power, the dinghy trailing astern. While raising the anchor, I saw the dinghy flipped over by the wind and as darkness was coming on apace, I decided merely to right it and, rather than delay further, tow it half full of water.
When near the heads, the wind increased to such force that it was clear that once through the entrance we could not possibly beat into Halfmoon Bay and would be unlikely to avoid the unlit islands that lay to the eastward. As quickly as possible I hoisted the 70sq. ft. fore staysail with boomed foot as I have always feared complete dependence on an engine in such a situation. With fare stays'l set and engine flat out, I steered south for Little Glory, a cove within Patterson Inlet.
The wind suddenly rose to an unbelievable strength, turning all, grey in the half light and heeling us down to the house. It was just possible to converse by shouting in each other's faces and only the oil pressure indicated the continued co-operation of the engine. I expected the wind to fall as quickly as it rose but it stayed in. The way in which the half full dinghy became airborne and emptied its contents in seconds, before falling upside down, was a most convincing prelude to the foredeck calamity. The clew of the 12oz stays'l just tore out While Jill struggled to douse the seemingly soundless, flogging remnants, I judged that we would fail to clear the leaward headland of the Lit tle Glory entrance, if we attempted to stand to the wind any longer. I put a knife to the dinghy painter and it was gone.
Without hope of a respectable offing I steered to just clear the headland and scraped by with just yards to spare, anchoring in total darkness. Never have I felt winds of such force. Two days later we recovered our beached dinghy so our lesson was learned at the cost of an oar and a ruined sail. At the time of writing this, I am busily engaged in fitting a new 70 h.p. diesel and I am convinced that when one really wants an engine close to land, only the most powerful is good enough. I always believed that 1 h.p. per ton was adequate as an auxiliary. The Stewart Island experience changed all that.
Mick Squires, a mate of Jack Crooks, stoutly repaired our sail before we sailed for the Fiords, carrying the easterly we had awaited through Foveaux Straight.
Throughout the night, steering watch and watch, we were ever conscious of the cold and sought to find relief by constantly looking about, seeking a distraction. Incredibly in all those miles from Australia, we never saw a whale or any creature other than sea birds. Dawn off Preservation Inlet with the mountains outlined in gold was magnificent. The weather gods must have known I had waited twenty years for that day for as we squared up to enter Dusky Sound with its 365 islands, the sun was shining brilliantly. We ran up through the Many Islands past Luncheon Cove to Pickerskill Harbour and secured the Haparanda in precisely the spot that Captain Cook had moored the Resolution on his second voyage 197 years ago, almost to the day. We eagerly landed and sought out and found Captain Cook's tree stumps.
It was here that William Wales, the astronomer, had supervised the clearing of trees in order to allow astronomical bearing to be taken to determine the latitude and longitude of New Zealand.
Eighteen years after Cook, the overgrown stumps could not be found by those on Vancouver's voyage. Yet Doctor Hector saw them about 1869 during his courageous voyage, surveying of the mineral resources of Fiordland.
The Book "Dusky Bay', by the Dunedin brothers, A. and N. Begg, proved a great help to us in our visit to Dusky. These enthusiastic men have even erected a plaque, with the intention of honouring Cook and indicating the actual spot in which Cook spent six weeks.
This I feel will prove to be a two edged sword. Attracted by the plaque the crews of visiting fishing boats have already worn a track from stump to stump, chipping and cutting carelessly at the stumps and disturbing the fern which has so long protected them. It seems likely that in a few years, the stumps will be gone. It is quite possible that by the year 2000 members of the New Zealand Historical Society will mourn the zeal of the well-intentioned gentlemen who have let the cat out of the bag. Clearly visible in Luncheon Cove is the line of rocks on which the keel of Providence, the first vessel built in New Zealand, was laid.
At Indian Island we saw the site of the huts of Maru's family, that worthy having attracted Captain Cook by a loud hallo. With the axes and other gear given him, he within a fortnight, became in terms of real wealth, the richest native in New Zealand.
In Facile Harbour we retrieved bits of the Captain Bampton's teak-Calcutta built, Endeavour which went down there in 1795. In Supper Cove, at the head of Dusky, with ice on the surface of the fresh water we thought of Cook and his "gentlemen" being rowed about. Probably nowhere in the world is it possible to feel the presence of that great seaman as it is in Dusky Sound. All is as it was then, which is more than one can say of Ships Cove in the Marlborough Sounds, Gisborne or Botany Bay with its oil refineries. It seems sad to me that New Zealand yachtsmen sail to the Islands and to far lands when these superb fiords are so close at hand. It is possibly the most magnificent cruising coast in the world for the well found yacht.
During the Endeavour's stay at Pickerskill there was a good deal of traffic by oars to Goose Cove-so named because Cook released geese in that place. In our first attempt to visit the area we ran aground on an uncharted bank. Interested in revisiting the spot we joined three young members of the Auckland Tramping Club who like us were keen about seeing all of Dusky Sound and during their holidays had flown into Supper Cove and were moving about in a 13' aluminium dinghy with 10 h.p. outboard. Having anchored Haparanda in Facile Harbour we donned inflatable life jackets and in company with the boys set out for Goose Cove. It has been noted by those who have visited Goose Cove that the geese released by Cook could be presumed to have perished. Without being in any way certain as to their origins we were happy to find wild geese there, the only ones we saw in Fiordland.
The anchorage at Beach harbour, Breaksea Sound. In the foreground where the dinghy has can be seen the rock free "sealers run" where the boats of these hardy types were dragged ashore. Their campsites could be easily identified as we cruised about the fiords.
When time came for our return later in the day, a southwesterly breeze had sprung up encouraging small waves from the swell. With an inexperienced helmsman and too much speed on, the aluminium craft suddenly went down by the head into a wave and stayed down. I vividly remember the outboard engine being the last remnant of our boat visible before we were left up to our necks in water over half a mile from the shore. With snow on all the mountains about us, to comment on my impressions would be superfluous. I understand that the manufacturers of the craft claim that half full of water, the boat with its built-in buoyancy, will support 4 adults. At the Boat Show that may appear so. In Dusky Sound with 5 adults wearing life jackets, it failed to reach the surface by 3 feet. Another and myself "stood" in the boat and paddled Maori style, while the others hung on as best they could and kicked. Happily, all were determined to survive and after the most arduous physical effort of my life, we reached the shore. Believing that once that was achieved all would be well, we were astonished to find that with one exception, we were suffering from exposure so badly that we could barely stand. Coherent speech was impossible. The forethought of one member in bringing a vest pocket survival kit and the petrol tank which we had towed behind, saved the day. In frantically searching for fuel, I underwent a crash course in the botany of the wet forest. It seems that wood is either alive and green or so rotten that its fibre resembles the consistency of mushroom. Driftwood seemed the only solid fuel in Fiordland.
With a roaring fire we returned miraculously to normal and discussed the situation Both Jill and I wanted to row on. Two elected to remain, being determined to avoid another voyage at all costs. With the possibility of change in the weather we could not leave the yacht unattended, so we pressed our case.
The strongest member of their party, a young forest officer, elected to join us and so we rowed each to an oar with fill calling the stroke. About 8pm we reached the yacht, a more welcome sight being hard to imagine. The others we picked up the following morning none the worse for their long fireside chat. Nowadays, when I see a similar craft departing Westhaven launching ramp with Mum and Dad and four children with no jackets visible, I tend to feel slightly neurotic.
Working our way north through Acheson Passage to Breaksea we sailed to Doubtful Sound, the most beautiful fiord and to the "Wanganella' at Deep Cove the site or the hydro scheme.
In all, we missed only four Sounds, the most important being Preservation, which we had impatiently passed on passage to Dusky.
The weeks spent there, although cold at times, will always be remembered as the highlight of our visit to New Zealand.
From Milford we pressed on post haste, to clear the West coast as quickly as possible, a more dangerous lee shore being hard to find. Through Tasman Bay we anchored in Torrent Bay before going via the narrow French's Pass to the Marlborough Sounds and Picton which in their "developed" state denuded of fine trees, are only a shadow of the Fiordland Sounds.
Across Cook Strait to Wellington on the coldest winter's night was an unpleasant experience more than balanced by the welcome of Graham Moore whom we had met in Dusky on his 50 loot "Altair". Derek Noble displayed the ultimate in New Zealand hospitality in offering to us the keys of his house at Evans Bay while away with his wife and family for a week!
We found Wellington a beautiful city but our awareness of the wind was overpowering. The crane on the Wahine stands as a monument to the strength of the Wellington winds. The Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club did everything possible to help us. Maurice Crisp, the Wellington yacht broker, an incredible organiser, arranged a slipping to repair damage caused to the paintwork in the severe grounding in the poorly chartered part of Dusky Sound. Another member, Alan Pain, offered us all almost new car in which we toured a good deal of the North Island. Our uneventful voyage up the East coast merely served as an interlude to a continuation of New Zeland hospitality. Homes open to us, transport offered. Even the free use of a car offered-by a used car dealer! I wouldn't have believed it-once.
We recall the thoughtfulness of Frank and Veronica Smith who altered their entire winter family arrangements so that we could have Christmas dinner with them. But then he is a Canadian, so perhaps it's conceivable it could happen elsewhere. Outstanding has been John Reynolds who had generously offered his engineering facilities and experience, which has enabled me to build up a wind vane system, a stainless steel space heater, underwater camera housings for still and 16mm movie cameras and undertaken the marinisation of the new engine.
Cruising as we have done since about Auckland's Hauraki Gulf we have made many friends and have enjoyed every day of it. After the re-engining from 20 h.p. to 70 h.p. diesel with which I am now engaged, we hope to cruise further north, before sailing on to South America and a cruise through the fiords and channels of Patagonia. The anchorage at Beach harbour, Breaksea Sound. In the foreground where the dinghy has can be seen the rock free "sealers run" where the boats of these hardy types were dragged ashore. Their campsites could be easily identified as we cruised about the fiords.