Travel.P #24 – A dios Odin, a dois muchachos


One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Sunrise over the east

Leaving Catherine Cove early with the beautiful sunrise we sailed around an hour and a half to Elmslie Bay. A bay with a small town including a small campsite that is just next to the French Pass. Our plan was to anchor there and walk to the French Pass lookout to check the conditions. The tidal flow, didn’t match our tide calculation and we had no idea when would be the best time to sail trough it. The current was strong and through the 100 meters passable channel was a lot of water pushed from south to north. The area behind the pass looked like a water pot, shortly before boiling. Water was pushed down and pushed up from the riffs under the water. Big currents seeming to push wild in every direction. It all looked too dangerous for our small boat, with its weak engine. After a few hours hanging out in the small town we waited for the tides to change and observed the scenery, which is beautiful from the small bay. With an Islands on the left and mainland on the right wide channel was covered in the blue of the ocean with a view into the cook straight.

The captain told me to go now, when there is the strongest current flowing from north to south, so we will get a nice boost and will be through it safe in short time. Other people said we would be crazy to go through the pass, but this captain seemed to know what he was speaking of. I shouted over to Ced and Jules that we will have to leave and just go right trough the channel, stay central because of rocks on the sides and whirlpools. So we took in the anchor and left the bay, after 10 minutes we were just in front of the Pass. Water was sucked in from the left and the right. The amount was stunning, literally, it stuns fish that are hit by the tides meeting each other. Ced was steering the boat, while I gave suggestions where to move the boat to hit the pass central. First we were to close to the left but slowly came closer to the middle and closer to the pass. We could already feel the suction, we were already in the pull of the water rushing through the pass. Now there was no way back, no turning just advancing. With the cliffs on the right coming closer and imagining where the rocks are on the right of the 100 meter channel we became faster and faster, closer and closer. The mood on the boat shifted to complete concentration and respect, we all were scared and exited. Than suddenly we were sucked in. We were in the pass. Water flowing on the right an the left of the boat. We raised our speed from 3 knots to 10 knots, just by the power of the stream. The boat started vibrating, especially the row. Ced hold it straight so that we wont twist. Massive whirlpools, around 2 meters appeared on our left and would have smashed us onto the rocks. I never saw anything like that and it scared the shit our of me. We tried to stay a bit to the right, away from the pools and the rocks. With nearly no control over the movement of the boat we were sucked through the channel, sucked like someone pulling the boat by a rope and pulling faster and faster. No one spoke at times, just when we made it trough the worst bit and hit the tide on the other side the boat was slowed down immediately and shook and pushed wild from the left to the right, not easy to control, but now out of reach of the rocks, the tension in us relaxed. We made it. We all jumped around, gave us hugs and celebrated our experience. It is hard to describe for me, it sounds like we are a bunch of pussies, but if you have a look at the power and the possible dangers you would understand what I am speaking of.

Because we had no idea about this powerful nature phenomena, I asked the captain of the small Marlborough ferry, that moves people and objects through the Marlborough Sounds. People are living here and there spread over the Sounds, insulated from cars, noise and people. The few days that we spend in the sounds were very peaceful and calm. We were absorbed by the simple beauty of nature and loved every moment in the Sounds.

Last few days on Odin

The next morning we picked our stuff together and left the Sounds towards Nelson. On the trip we lost a fishing rod due to a to strong fish and sailed past beautiful scenery again into the Tasman Bay, and from there into Nelson harbor, where I left the boat after two more days. It was so sad to leave the boat, especially Ced, because we became good friends.

Last time together in Nelson

From there pushed with excitement, we reached Okuri Bay, with a hidden cabin in the woods, where we stayed for the night. Outside on the porch, making a fire to keep us warm, we grilled our caught fish and had a delicious dinner under the stars, with waves of the ocean falling slowly into the bay. Next to the small cabin was a small river for water and washing. The cabin was made out of wood, it looked like a lovely small cozy place to work on your art or spent time with good friends. The BBQ was a small barrel in that were drilled holes in the pattern of fish with a lid and a small chimney. Our wood was mostly taken from the beach. After dinner we all fell asleep next to the barrel and just topped it up here and there during the night with bit of wood to spend heat against the cold. It mostly gets cold around two in the morning until the sun rises. The stars above us were beautiful, the forest out of pines was calming with the sound of waves steadily hitting the beach in the same pattern, 20 meters away from the small cabin, isolated from the rest of the world, no cars, no artificial noise, just sounds of nature.

Dinghy packed with my stuff

But I had to move on, travel alone again and work my two missing months of farm work to extend my Working Holiday Visa, to be able to spend the winter season with Lorna and Kate in Wanaka. So from Nelson I hitched to Havelock and than to Blenheim. In Blenheim I stayed at an ugly hostel with awesome people. The hostel is shut down now, due to a new owner. Apparently it is a real shit hole and workers from over seas for the harvest and pruning of the vines live there. It is sad that the owner doesn’t look after it.

Our journey on the boat in red and out trip by car in blue.

But about that and the crazy hostel life and picking in the vineyards more in my next blog. From getting kicked out of the hostel to moving to a woman that a friend and me met in an art lesson in Blenheim. From my free time spend into actually checking and informing myself about nutrition and health, about spending my free time in a great gym and learning how to swim properly. About drawing and living mostly of dumpster diving. Why I got a car, even if I didn’t want to have a car again for now, and moving around in my bike more than in the car, that my mate used more than me, haha.

Why don’t put some more green vegetables in you diet. Three cups more on your plate will already be a big achievement.

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