Dusky Sound

Like Doubtful, Dusky Sound is a combination of connecting fjords made up of Breaksea Sound, Wet Jacket Arm, the Acheron Passage and Dusky Sound. In 1770 Captain Cook sailed past the sound and named it ‘Dusky' as it was getting too dark to enter. It was on his 2nd visit in the "Resolution" in 1773 that Captain Cook spent 5 weeks exploring the Dusky Sound complex. However he didn't have time to explore the 2 arms of Breaksea Sound (Vancouver and Broughton) to see if they were connected to Doubtful sound so he named the fjord ‘Nobody knows what' but in 1791 Captain George Vancouver completed Cook's exploration and named it ‘Somebody knows what'. Eventually it was named Breaksea sound by Captain John Stokes during his survey in HMS Acheron. There you go a little bit of history for you!

Breaksea sound is 33 km long and is connected to Dusky Sound (the longest fjord at 44km) by the Acheron Passage. Wet Jacket arm is found off Acheron Passage and surprisingly enough was named by Cook when Lieutenant Pickersgill got caught in a storm and returned looking the worse for wear! We also had a bit of a wet jacket arm (and the rest) when we went for a bit of a hike around!

After a non-eventful sail (for which I was most thankful) we entered the sound, passing Breaksea island (after which the sound was eventually named) at the entrance and on to Second Cove anchorage as there were strong winds forecast so we wanted a sheltered anchorage for a couple of nights. Not much to do but hide from the wind, we sailed back down Breaksea to a very protected anchorage at Beach Harbour and thank goodness we did as it howled and we had hail storms and the lot thrown at us!

Snow capped hills in the Acheron passage and Superted at anchor in Wet Jacket Arm

When the skies cleared a bit we headed down the Acheron passage to another protected anchorage at the entrance to Wet Jacket Arm where we tied bow and stern but still got blown about a bit! We had a bit of a stroll around the very wet soggy forest trying to dodge the rain showers whilst we waited for the weather to clear. Our next anchorage was further down the Acheron passage and to the head of Dusky Sound - Shark Cove – hoping of course to see a few sharks but I think they were all hiding from the weather – great sunset though.

A walk in the 'wet' at Wet Jacket Arm and sunset over Shark Cove

We managed to get a fairly good day to head out onto the Dusky Track from Supper Cove (where we met a couple of trampers staying in the DOC hut), taking it fairly gently because of my ribs. We gave one of them a lift in the dinghy to a point further along the track which saved him a couple of hours gruelling walking! The other tramper had decided to stay put for another day to dry out – he had tramped several miles in a snowstorm and then had to wade chest high across a river at one point on the track so had a log fire going in the hut to get everything dry – I guess he had a sense of achievement at the end of it though! Although the track was wet with knee deep mud in places, it was interesting and we came across a 3 wire bridge which was a first for us – it was OK once you were on but it didn't do my ribs any good at all trying to get up on to it! Some thoughtful soul had also placed a ladder at one point to assist the less athletic of us! Grand day out and no rain!

DOC hut at Supper cove complete with log fire and Matt on the 3 wire bridge on the Dusky Track

Jean trying to get on the 3 wire bridge (that's pain not a grin on my face!) and on the ladder on Dusky Track

Eventually the wind calmed down and we sailed down through the ‘nine fathoms passage' and on to Pickersgill Harbour passing several gushing waterfalls along the way. We have a drawing of Cook's Resolution anchored in Pickersgill harbour using a rata tree as a gang plank and a photo of the Endeavour replica in the same position in 1996. We had been told the tree is still there so were keen to anchor in the same place. Imagine our disappointment when we approached and saw another boat in ‘our' place – however as we dropped anchor in the next bay, we realised that we were actually in ‘the spot' and found the tree. On the beach captain Cook had set up the first brewery, brewing spruce beer for his crew. The astronomer William Wales set up an observatory cutting down a couple of trees to make a sturdy base and despite the ‘continual cloudy sky' (now there's a surprise!) he was able to ascertain the lat and long with remarkable accuracy. The crew of the Resolution also set up a forge and tents along the beach to work at repairing sails. The crew of Superted weren't that industrious – they just went for a couple of hikes around and took copious photos and brewed up a gin and tonic!

Sketch of the tree used as a gang plank to the Resolution in 1773 and plaque at Pickersgill Harbour

The replica of the Endeavour in Pickersgill Harbour in 1996 and Superted V in 2014



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