Sunday, March 11, 2012

6 Nights in Dunedin

South Island

New Zealand

5 miles South of Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula


Dunedin, a beautiful city of Victorian architecture, is a Scottish settlement of 140 years ago. Located at the base of the Otago peninsula, it has a long sinuous harbor, but unfortunately one without satisfactory anchorages. The harbor is geared to the commercial needs of Port Chalmers, just outside Dunedin, and movement is "allowed" by harbor control. It does not seem that they have a feel for the needs of boats our size; their initial suggestion was for us to tie to a (very) small pontoon at the base of the harbor while we figured out a plan. Conditions did not allow and we ended requesting permission to anchor temporarily just outside the traffic lane. We then considered entering the Otago Yacht Club Harbor, but the narrow shallow entry and small space made this unthinkable in 30 knots of SW wind – we would have had to dash through a 45 foot wide pass with a cross wind, buck a 1.5 knot cross-current, and could enter only just before high tide, rafted to another boat, and then would have settled gently on bottom at low. We took a pass on that one.

 Choices were scant and ultimately we headed back towards Port Chalmers where we anchored in a mildly protected spot between Back Bay Beach and Goat Island. We were still very exposed to NE winds, and swung fully with the tide. It was okay, but not great and we endured 6 nights in this area, with the wind turning 180 degrees every day or so, and only 2 nights with less than 20 – 30 knots.

Once finally settled, we looked up Colin and Chris, Kiwis and good friends of (Hal and Elizabeth) our friends back in USA .  Colin and Chris invited us for "tea" (dinner) our first evening, and they visited the boat the following day. They also offered us a set of wheels, which really enhanced our stay. The car made our "out of town" anchorage much more livable, and we used it for shopping, for supplies, and for touring. We visited art museums and gardens downtown, and spent one fantastic sunny day biking around (and up) the peninsula when we visited the Larnoch Castle. We had dinner with another friend and Dunedinite "Kate the Great", and spent another evening right on the "pitch" in first row seats watching Otago's pro rugby team, the Highlanders, best Australia. We also refilled diesel tanks at the commercial wharf, filled our propane tanks, and food shopped. The Saturday farmers market was great.

We squeezed in "a wee bit" of boat work as well and left yesterday mid-day for Akoroa and the Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch. Our anchor and chain cleansed the harbor bottom of one huge tree trunk and an old mooring wire as we departed, and we also spent 25 minutes scrubbing our keel bottom in the nearby silt after extricating ourselves from the former. Departure planning has been a study in Kiwi weather and forecasting. Winds were initially to be variable to 15 knots SW, from far astern, while increasing to 25 knots after arrival the next day (today). Gribs were even lighter. A "complex front" was described by NZ Metservice, which I have learned is weather-speak here for a difficult to forecast front with conditions that are bound to change – don't really trust the forecast. After we left, the forecast changed to 25 knots, and we saw 25 to 30 knots with 35 to 38 knot gusts all night, fortunately on our stern or quarters. It is easing now, but is forecast to be South 15 knots tending to NE 15 knots in the afternoon, changing to 25 knots SW in the evening. It is forecast to change back to NE 15 knots tomorrow night, then tend to NW 15 knots in two days, and south 15 followed by NE 15 in 3 days. Crazy! But I don't really believe it.

We are now 6 miles outside Akaroa. All is well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  




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