Duet II South Island, Thompson Sound

45:18:06S, 166:58″60E

Milford sound is the most spectacular and impressive of all the sounds. It is also the most easily accessible by road and consequently on the tourist route. Sheer slab sided walls created by plate shifting movements thrust upwards. Raw and brutal edges hardly worn by wind and sea painted subtle shade of green of moss and bush. Some of the peaks are still snow capped and the snout of a glacier can be seen.

Were the sand flies more annoying than the continual buzz and whine of helicopters and small aircraft than infest Milford Sound during the day? We thought that the sandflies were only marginally more of an irritation. That is until at last we were able to head out south, out of the sound down the coast some 40 miles to George Sound and anchored off Alice falls.

Here the sandflies were unmanageable, we could barely survive outside no longer than 5 mins inspite of the strongest “bug-eroff” spray we could lay our hands on. Pity as this was a beautiful place. Down the next stretch of open water with the wind on our stern and full sail we fairly flew down the next leg to Thompson sound. Less dramatic but still spectacular and all with the bare minimum of tourist traffic.

Marie, ‘good as gold’ of Bluff Fisherman’s radio is a legend. She is on the single side band radio all day and probably all night keeping in touch and track of all fishermen and boaties down in the South Island. She is the single contact with the shore that some of the fisherman may have for days at a time. She relays weather forecasts, general information and much more else besides. Her manner is engaging, her voice distinctive.

After the weather forecast in the evening she runs though her roll call where all the boats who are out and about to give their position a description of the weather where they are. There is also such a thing as bush telegraph as we had not checked in with her so imagine our surprise when we found ourselves being called up on the roll call. “How did you know we were here?” “Ah, we have our ways!” from then on we were hooked. It’s more addictive than any soap and more entertaining.

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