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Honouring a promise 18 years on

In Nov 2005 we lost a friend and colleague, and the Sub Antarctic Islands lost a passionate researcher and advocate when Dr David Given died after losing a brave battle with cancer.    I got to know David when I invited him to be a lecturer and guide on our expeditions to Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic on board The Spirit of Enderby when I owned Heritage Expeditions.  Many of you receiving this newsletter might remember David perhaps for his humour but more likely, I think, for his passion and total commitment to the Southern Ocean and especially its flora.    Before he died he handed me an unfinished manuscript on the flora of the Sub Antarctic Islands. He had been working on it for a number of years. His last words to me was that it needed more field work on the Auckland Islands before it could be published.  I promised him I would do my best to complete the field work and get it published. It has taken 18 years, three of those years have been taken up negotiating with the Dept. of Conservation for the necessary permits and permissions to visit the Auckland Islands to complete the field work.  To this day I do not understand why the Dept. had to make the process so difficult, so demanding so frustrating and so restrictive. I would have thought that they would have welcomed the opportunity to have such a manuscript researched and published.  Sadly, that has not been our experience, we battled mindless bureaucracy and patch protectionism all the way.        As I write this we are at the Auckland Islands. We have a team of 6 botanists and 1 mycologist led by Alex Fergus who are volunteering their time and expertise to complete the field work that David’s unfinished manuscript required.  I am providing MV Strannik free of charge and we have a volunteer crew on board. David would be proud of the team, their results more than justify the expedition and will add tremendous value to the manuscript.   The botanists have recorded numerous new records for the island and possibly an entirely new species to science.  The mycologist is writing a whole new chapter in the flora of the Auckland Islands. It is exciting times.    It will obviously take time to analyse the results of this expedition. Once that is done we will move into finishing the manuscript and making it available for all sub Antarctic Island and plant enthusiasts around the world.     Thankyou David for your inspiration and dedication.  

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Goose Cove

Benign weather conditions over the last few days in Fiordland allowed us the rare privilege of making an expedition landing at the head of Goose Cove in Dusky Sound and making the short overland trek to Woodhen Bay this afternoon.   This narrow isthmus of land is all that connects Five Fingers Peninsula to Resolution Island. It is nearly always difficult to access because of weather, tides and sea conditions.     Goose Cove was named by Capt. James Cook during his 1773 expedition to Dusky Sound. He wrote in his log “Having 5 geese left out of those we brought from the Cape of Good Hope…….I went with them the next morning to Goose Cove where I left them”.    Eighteen years later when Capt. Vancouver revisited the cove there was no sign of the Geese.  Cook named Woodhen Bay at the same time on account of the large numbers of woodhen  (Weka’s) seen in the area. He did note that “woodhen eat very well in a pie”.  We saw neither geese or wood. We were just pleased that the weather, tides and sea conditions allowed us this rare visit.  

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Fiordland kayaking

We have been hiding in Fiordland (well not exactly hiding) since we last posted our last blog. We had friends on board for about 3 weeks in September and we were able to complete a number of landings and hikes that we had wanted to do to for a long. More recently we embarked 8 Kayakers (7 New Zealanders and 1 Canadian) and spent 10 days exploring southern Fiordland through the eyes and experiences of the Kayakers. It was a brilliant expedition, the weather was exceptionally good and the opportunities were outstanding and amazing. We complimented the kayaking with some great hikes and so saw and experienced more of the Fiords than most visitors.  We are here until the end of November and then will be on Stewart Island until the new year and again in February 2023. There is one female berth available on our Feb 17 – 25th 2023 expedition. if you are interested in joining us please contact us on 

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Annual Maintenance and Survey Haulout in Nelson.

Yesterday on the high tide Strannik was hauled out of the water for its annual maintenance and survey on the Caldwell slip in the Port of Nelson. Fortunately, our list of annual maintenance jobs is not too long, it includes antifouling the hull and treating the propeller with “Prop Speed” , a product that gives us better fuel efficiency. The hull was washed down last night and today painters began preparing the hull for the new coat of antifoul paint. Strannik is "in survey" under the Italian (RINA) rules. A RINA surveyor will come from Australia at the weekend and will check a whole range of equipment and fixtures and on Monday when we go back into the water will undertake sea trials before issuing a certificate of compliance for another year.

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Fiordland in May 2022

We farewelled our guests at Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound this morning (Sunday 15th May). It has been an exceptionally successful 10 day expedition with multiple landings and small boat excursions every day. The weather has been kind with very little time lost because of rain. The group was particularly interested in the human history of the fiords and so we focused a lot on that. After farewelling them, we headed for Nelson up the west coast. It is a little over 420 nm and we expect to arrive Tuesday evening. The forecast is good and the sea conditions are ideal. We will haul Strannik out of the water at Port of Nelson for annual maintenance and survey.

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