Thompson sound

is around 11 miles long and one of the four fjords that run from the open sea to join with others - Bradshaw and Doubtful fjords. For us it was a day's sail from Charles sound and we had the intention of spending a week or so exploring the three fjords. Well the best laid plans….

Leaving Charles Sound in the rain it was a pretty bouncy sail down and with plenty of wind we were just about to put a reef in the main - I stood up just as a wave hit us and I fell heavily in the cockpit. Fortunately we were only a couple of hours out of Thompson sound but a very painful couple! Once inside Thompson sound it was much calmer but I was still in a lot of pain so we decided to skip the anchorages there and in Bradshaw Sound and head straight for Deep Cove in Doubtful sound so as not to have to do too many manoeuvres over the next few days and where we had been told there was an education centre run by ‘Billy'. However Doubtful sound is 22 miles long and deep Cove at it's head so we still had a few hours to go. At one point we almost had a collision with a whale as he dived under and left an enormous wake washing over the boat! Thank you for that – just what I needed!

Billy - Manager of the Education Trust

On our arrival at Deep Cove, we spoke to Billy but declined his kind offer of visiting him for a cuppa as I wasn't feeling too good. A short while later, 2 doctors from a yacht we had met previously (Diamedia) had heard my woeful story and came along to see if they could help in any way. After examining me, they strongly advised that I should be taken to hospital immediately as they suspected I may have damaged my spleen and shouldn't risk waiting until morning. So despite the dreadful weather conditions and the tardiness of the hour, Billy managed to get in touch with the Medivac helicopter. Not easy as there is no telephone communications and someone had gone off with his sat phone – fortunately he did have a satellite internet connection and was eventually able to get in touch by skype.

Helicopter arrival in the cloud and rain

The helicopter arrived at around 8.45pm in low cloud and rain. No place for Matt as there were 2 medics on board so he was left to look after the boat and eat the couple of lobster which were defrosting for dinner! Discussing the best way to get down to Invercargill they decided to fly as low as possible and keep hugging the coast. Using NVGs (night vision goggles to those not into helicopter speak) they eventually landed at Que hospital where we were met by an orderly with a wheelchair! I was seen immediately and sent for x-rays then an ultrasound followed by a CT scan. Fortunately no internal damage just a couple of fractured ribs. After spending a ‘drugged up' night, I was given the all clear, offered a bag of toiletries for a shower whilst the nursing staff enquired about the best way for me to get back to Doubtful sound. Which as it turned out was quite a treat! A bus from Invercargill to Te Anau followed by a float plane to Deep Bay . Fortunately there were a couple of sightseeing flights booked that day and the company managed to get me on to one of them which was flying over Doubtful sound. In total contrast to the previous day, the sky was blue and clear so I had a fabulous trip – trying to take photos from my mobile phone wasn't that easy with painful ribs as I couldn't move much.

Lake Manapouri with the pass and South arm of Manapouri Lake

As we approached Deep Bay , the pilot called Matt on the VHF and he got in the dinghy to come alongside as we landed on the water just a few feet from the boat! What service. And to top it all the only cost to us was the transport back – the helicopter and all hospital services were paid for by the NZ government accident scheme! I had heard you can actually pay for a helicopter flight over the fjords but come on – anyone can do that!

Float plane landing next to Superted and Jean getting out and into the dinghy


So we spent a couple of days chilling out around Deep Cove, trying a couple of the gentler walks and looking at grib files for a fairly calm sea to get us further down the fjords which as it happened, was to be about 5 days later.

Jean on short walk across deep bay and Hall arm

We got a look at Hall arm which was quite spectacular before heading to Blanket Bay near Bauza Island which straddles the entrance to Doubtful leaving only 2 narrow entrance channels. In 1770 Cook had taken a look at Doubtful Sound in Endeavour but didn't go in – he so named it as he was unsure he would be able to sail back out of the narrow entrance. In the northern fjords an onshore breeze tends to blow up around 10 in the morning and settles in for the day so timing to get out is crucial. From our position in Blanket Bay we would be able to get out of the sound before the on shore wind started to blow. The sound was subsequently navigated by the Spanish and still retains some of the Spanish names. Fortunately we chose a day with not too much wind and a very slight swell – I spent the journey down to Dusky Sound sitting upright wedged into the ‘captains seat' – not too comfortable but bearable!



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