Christmas aboard MV Strannik was very much a family affair. Since last writing we sailed across Tasman Bay to Pelorus Sound. Aaron and Nathan along with their families (Sarah, Anneliese, Francesia& Robyn,Findlay and Hudson) arrived in Havelock on Christmas Eve and we spent an enjoyable week together exploring the Sound. We initially based ourselves in Ngawhakawhiti Bay and enjoyed catching up with friends in Elaine Bay as well as steaming out to the Chetwode Islands to teach the next generation how and where to fish for Blue Cod. The keener ones completed the Nydia Bay track (over a couple days) and enjoyed the scenery and the history, not to mention the opportunity to walk off the excessive Christmas food. We are now in Queen Charlotte Sound. It was great to check out Motuara Island yesterday, it has been a while since I had landed there, just a pity the weather wasn’t better. We are expecting friends tomorrow and will spend a few days with them and then head to Lyttelton, where we will make plans for the remainder of the year. We hope to announce some Stewart Island and Fiordland Expeditions!  

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Abel Tasman National Park

Greetings from MV Strannik and the team. After 4 weeks tied up in the Nelson Marina we finally sailed. It is so good to be back at sea. Our time in Nelson was great, catching up on family and friends, tramping and, during the week, attending the Skipper Training Institute to upgrade my Skippers ticket. This new ticket will allow me to use Strannik commercially in NZ. We may well offer some NZ expeditions next year. We are writing from the Astrolabe Roadstead in the Abel Tasman National Park. We have spent the last few days exploring the Park. Have enjoyed some great walks and boating, it’s a great time to be here a) the weather is settled and b) there are not a lot of people around. On January 14th 1827 Jules Dumont D’Urville anchored his vessel Astrolabe here and filled his water casks from a creek in nearby Watering Cove. His men also watched the transit of Venus from neighbouring Observation Cove. It is great to look at Louis de Sainson painting of Watering Cove and imagine what it would have been like nearly 200 years ago, the bird song must have been incredible. On that note, we just want to wish all our friends a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and look forward to sharing our 2021 adventures with you.

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Life aboard Strannik continues to be an adventure. We are currently in Nelson, tied up in the Marina. I am at School studying for an Australian Skippers ticket. Maritime NZ doesn’t like my British Royal Yacht Squadron Commercial Ticket and if we are going to offer some cruises in New Zealand while we are confined here because of Covid-19, then I need this ticket. Maritime NZ also don’t like our Italian (RINA) certification so we are having to resurvey the vessel. But we aren’t complaining because there is nowhere else I would rather be under the circumstances and we are very conscious that there are people who are a lot worse off than we are. We just count our blessings every day and there isn’t a calculator big enough. No school over the weekend so we went tramping in the Kahurangi National Park yesterday and Nelson Lakes National Parks today. It is simply wonderful to get back into the mountains that I grew up in.

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South Island

LifeWell we are finally in the South Island, anchored up not far from Picton, it feels like we are almost home. Since last writing we spent several very relaxing days at Great Barrier Island. One day we hired a car and explored the island, including a soak in the hot pools near Whangaparapara. We had planned to visit Tauranga on the way south but with no berths available we took advantage of a weather window and ran directly to Napier. Again there was no room in the Port and we were forced to anchor off, which was fine, until a large easterly swell rolled in making the anchorage extremely uncomfortable, we had little option but to run to Picton. It was a great trip except for a brief southerly blow that came through as we rounded Cape Palliser. It was great to finally get back in southern waters and see the birds that have been such a part of my life the highlight was undoubtedly having both Southern and Northern Royal Albatross circling around. We were reminded afresh of Robert Cushman Murphy’s quote “I now belong to a higher cult of mortals, for I have seen the albatross.” The Cape Pigeons made us feel at home, as much as we love traveling and cruising there is no place like home and for us that is the Southern Ocean. On several occasions we were escorted by large pods of Common Dolphins it was as though they were pleased to see us, welcoming us home. On night watch you could hear them blowing as they swam along beside us, what a privilege to have such amazing companions throughout your watch … it seemed like the watch was over before it began. Cushman Murphy’s words are just as appropriate for dolphins as they are for albatross. Our plans are to spend the remainder of the month in the Sounds and arrive Nelson on Nov 1st.

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“Island Crawl”

Our “Island Crawl” continues  with the Poor Knights Islands yesterday and Hen and Chicken Islands today.   We started our journey south towards the Marlborough Sounds from Bay of Islands early yesterday and detoured a few miles to visit the Poor Knights Islands.  They are an iconic dive site with regular dive trips leaving from Tutukaka on the mainland some 14 miles to the west. We weren’t there to dive we wanted to see the Buller’s Shearwaters.  Poor Knights is their only known breeding ground and they have only just returned from the central Pacific where they spend the austral winter.  We weren’t disappointed, there were large flocks on the water just a few miles south of Islands.  We enjoyed a great night anchored at Smugglers Cove and outside of Whangarei Heads. It was both calm and quiet. There was a great sunrise as we steamed east to the Hen and Chickens. These islands are obviously very popular with recreational fisherman. They are only 7 miles from Whangarei Harbour entrance. There were already at least 10 boats fishing when we arrived.  The Islands are Nature Reserves. I was interested to see Taranga or Hen Island as this was, until birds were transferred to other Islands, the only place that North Island Saddleback survived.  Great to hear and see Parakeets flying overhead Araara Island.  With strong to gale force winds forecast tonight  we are heading south to find a comfortable anchorage to sit this one out.   

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