Friday, March 16, 2007

To Pigeon Bay

It's now mid March. I've been back at work for two months. The holidays are receeding into the haze.
And here I am just getting to Jan 8. The interweb is so durned immediate, n'est-ce pas?

Jan 8.
I told Jonno and Crispin I'd meet them about 10 in Lyttelton. They were late. I found this out as I txtd them to say I'd be late, tacking up-harbour past Quail Island in a steady but fairly light breeze.
They'd have another coffee, they decided.
Lyttelton's inner harbour moorings are half-way a yacht basin again. (The "marina storm" did that much good.) The little float can be quite busy, but this was a Monday morning. Crispin and Jonno clambered aboard, slung in some bags, and we slipped out past the other yachts, sitting tight.

11:00 til about 2 or 3 pm we tacked out in a wavering NE. Godley Head slipped behind us, and we sailed past a tanker in the Roads. And out. Further I think than I've taken Awakeri- 4-5 kms at least.

The big greasy rollers in light weather made Cris quite ill. It squelched all of us a little. Deep nausea is dreadful; when you're sea-sick well out to sea, you can start to feel hopeless. On the Australis I can remember being queasy for days. It's not life-affirming. So we took a long wandering tack into Little Pigeon Bay. As we went in, a curious scow motored past and into Pigeon Bay.

It was quiet and hot in Little Pigeon. Starting the motor, I broke the starter chord- I'm thinking guiltily that it's still not fixed- on the second pull. But the same pull started the engine and we putted in.

Stopped and discovered we could still start the engine, because smart designers built a round pulley you can wind the cord onto, right on top of the shaft. Quite tricky to get the plastic cover back on the engine though, with the engine's exposed head whirling, and you're heaving and pitching in any sea. ( Sidebar: I've got a smallish two-cylinder 4 horse evinrude. I should have held out for a 6. But after 18 months scouring the buy sell and echange- and rejecting another very cheap, old four- I bought this one in about 1997 for $400. The guy told me it was a 1982 model, and I believed him, because when I arranged a time to come round to see him, it was a Sunday, and he said not til after 11 as he'd be at church, and christians don't lie, do they? A mechanic checked the serial # and it's a 1976. Awakeri is also a '75 or 76. They've got on well. She generally starts like a dream. Once I didn't touch it for three years, and it started second pull. It's taken us through a few passages. But it's not a long-distance engine, less reliable when hot. )

Little Pigeon Bay is still my favourite anchorage. We moored up in the sun, and went ashore. Solid rock livened Crispin up, and soon he was only light green.
We walked up the ridge, finding, as you do, that ridge-tops kept disolving into other ridges, each promising the top.
But getting ashore at Little Pigeon involved stretching, scraping, possibly getting wet. It wasn't easy enough for the lilly-livered, weaselish paltroons I'd press-ganged. We had a glorious swim in the cold sea, and started the 'Rude (I have never before called it this, and may never again) heading for Pigeon Bay, a jetty, and an actual toilet. The sea was up round the point, but the wind had right dropped away. I didn't want Cris, who was feeling restored, chundering again. So we motored along at a grand 3-4 knots, enjoying the harbour- but a little shocked at the impact of an extensive mussel-farm. It's not a pretty business.

The scow was anchored in Holmes Bay. We tied up at the wharf.

The evening meandered along- a bottle of wine, some rice and tuna, companionable talk. Some kids came and bombed off the jetty posts. We put out a bow anchor, and stretched a stern line back in a loop we could easily slip. It was very still- the low heave of the ocean, the occasional scrawk of an oyster-catcher, stars everywhere. I'd brought a hunk of trampoline safety mat, which was useless as a mattress. The narrow cockpit bench I tried to sleep on was bloody uncomfortable.

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