Passage to Brisbane – Day 6

29:03:67S
160:45:28E

Friday 27th January.

There is a lot of Bull**** written about fishing: here is some more.

When on passage every cruiser tows a line behind their yacht in the belief they will catch their supper. Sometimes this happens. Like fisherman the world over every one knows that their method is the best. Over the years I have developed my own theory.

I began with a simple glass fibre rod bought in the back streets of Panama that served me well all the way to Hawaii, Alaska and down to Mexico. I stuck it in a holder on the stern, let out the line and set the reel. A high-pitched whirr alerted me when a fish struck and then it was a matter of reeling it in. All went well until we reached the Sea of Cortez when a massive Wahoo fought so hard that in spite of Simon and my united efforts, the fish smashed rod and reel into pieces.

The cruising funds were low and the price of a new rod too high so I settled on a reel of heavy-duty line to which I attached a wire trace about a metre long on a swivel and at the end of that a lure that hid a large double hook. I asked around and advice poured in from all sides; this is the best kind of lure, are you sure your boat is tuna friendly to only trying to fish at the right time of day. Short of lighting a candle or making a sacrifice I tried out everything but the fish ignored me…

What was different between what I was using now from previously? It had to be the lure. Lurking around the fishing shops in Mexico I studied all the different types on offer. Of course my eye was caught by the most expensive, a beautiful feathered number that wouldn’t look out of place worn as a ‘fascinator’. ‘$25.00 for that? You must be mad!’ said Simon.

I found gull feathers on a beach and bound them tightly to an existing plastic lure, used a bit of acrylic paint to turn them scarlet and added strips of plastic from a shopping bag. Two days and 100 miles later, Bingo! From then on I have never looked back when trawling for fish.

My secret? Rule one is to have a very sharp and strong hook, but it is feathers that tickles a fine fish’s fancy. I have tried all kinds of different squid-like baits but the one that gets them every time is my special brand of ‘Sharon’. So named after the 80’s TV series called Birds of a Feather featuring the original Essex girls, Sharon and Tracy – and their extremely flashy next-door neighbour, Doreen.

Sharon numbers 1 – 5 had fluffy skirts made of pink and white feathers. Attracted no end of Tuna. But sadly they age and even multiple feather lifting doesn’t work in the long run. I am now on to Doreen #1 who wears black, purple and green feathers. Mahi-Mahi snap her up!

Passage to Brisbane – Day 2

32:39:80S
168:11:105E

Tuesday 24th January

Bang. There was a strike on the fishing line trailed off the stern. Immediate inspection showed that something very large indeed had taken the lure and broken the 80 lb line. I think I am glad we didn’t get to see what it was. Sadly that was my favourite pink lure but I had a spare black and blue feathered number which so far has not lured anything.

Round about morning tea time Simon noticed a long rip along the foot of the poled out yankee sail. Down came the sail and we taped it up as best we could and rehoisted it. Why had it happened? Perhaps it has been caused by UV damage. There is a strip of UV material down the leech of the sail but not along the foot. It will need the attention of a sail maker in Brisbane.

In the meantime we have had to slow down our progress as light wind from astern means the sail will flog if we are not careful and could easily make the rip worse.

Today’s noon to noon run only 174 miles as against yesterdays of 195. By mid afternoon the wind increased so we rolled out the sail again are currently back up to speed at 6.5 – 7.5 knots.

How I love the Starwalk App on the ipad. Lying on deck stargazing is now a truly wonderful experience. So much easier than those star charts we all enthusiastically tried to figure out in the past.

Duet II on passage, Tasman Sea

38:05:44S, 172:55:65E

Somewhere down in the fiords we lost our bowthruster. We didn’t hear or feel a thing, which is surprising since what ever we sucked in removed the entire set of blades. Once back in Nelson we were able to track down and replace it. I always did wonder what ever happened to the penguin.

The down side of wonderful summer weather is the light winds in the centre of the high pressure systems. We are currently motor-sailing up the West Coast of the North Island. We’ve never seen the Tasman sea so calm and this has given us the opportunity to do some Baking. Errol wanted upside down plum muffins. The recipe called for baking powder which I didn’t have so we improvised using lemonade instead. They certainly rose to the occasion.

Fiordland to Nelson, Cape Farewell

40:27:65S, 172:39:78E
Cape Farewell.

The wind swung around to the south and west, a perfect window for departure and sail up to Nelson. Once out of the sounds we set the sails and for the first 6 hours had a great sail up the coast enjoying the dramatic scenery. Continue reading Fiordland to Nelson, Cape Farewell

Cooper Island, Dusky Sound

45:44:13S, 166:53:59E

Before the hunters came here in helicopters they had to rely on fishermen and a deer recovery ship. This ship was moored at the south western end of Cooper Island. All that remains is a mouldering dinghy parked high in the bushes and the mooring. The line looked sturdy enough to hold something twice the size of us. Looks can be deceptive. When the South Easter began to hoot down the cove we were getting too close to the shore. Fortunately it was still daylight and we made our escape.

Cormorant Cove, Dusky Sound

45:41:29S, 166:34:06E
Cormorant Cove, Dusky Sound

Not much has changed in the last 238 years since Captain James Cook landed here, replenished Resolution with water and dined off crayfish. Instead of Maori paddling their wakas there are only to be found the occasional kayaker making their way around the sounds. If it weren’t for Marie of Bluff fisherman’s radio we would really feel as though we were back in the 18th Century. Continue reading Cormorant Cove, Dusky Sound

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. Continue reading Duet II South Island, Thompson Sound