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The Rock-itt : December 2010
On the 4th January 2011 a ship called the Spirit of Enderby will depart from Bluff on the Southern tip of South Island New Zealand bound for the forgotten Islands of the South Pacific. Sounds a bit mysterious and possibly, if you are of the travelling persuasion, more than a little enticing. I did a similar trip just a couple of years ago on the same vessel as it happens and would love to be going again but I can’t lay my hands on the necessary $3500 right now! It’s an eight day trip; the ship carries a maximum of 50 passengers and has a crew of around 20. After casting off from Bluff the ship will head south past Stewart Island and sail overnight in rather a rough sea to a group of islands called The Snares. Landing is not permitted on these islands but just after dawn in a rather rough sea we circumnavigated the largest of them in the small inflatables referred to generally as Zodiacs. These rubber ducky’s hold about 12 people, getting on and off can be akin to riding a bucking bronco on the rough seas. We had an 85 year old lady with we got close to the shore. The Snares has its own Endemic (it means they are only found here) Crested Penguin which was there in abundance. It also has a tiny small black bird called a Tomtit and a ‘Robin like’ Fernbird seen hardly anywhere else in the World. Views of these were reward enough for making the trip to some folks. Also flying all around us were Bullers Albatross who use these Islands to breed. We were entertained by groups of New Zealand Fur Seals and Sea Lions who were as interested in us as much as we were interested in them. We cruised for a couple of hours then back to the boat for lunch. Many didn’t have the stomach for it and I was a little queasy given the bouncy nature of the sea. I always take seasick pills and wear those wrist bands which work in some mysterious way via pressure points, preparation for these trips is crucial. We started out for our next destination, Enderby Island, shortly after lunch, the wind and waves had really picked up. Probably only about 15 (from 48) made it down for dinner that evening. It was a miracle that they could serve it let alone make it. Even sat down we had to hold on to the tables to prevent being whirled off the rotating seats and thrown to the floor. It was so bad that tour director Rodney Russ cancelled dessert because the chefs couldn’t prepare it. I had started for the first time to feel ill and the excellent Blue Eyed Cod was a little difficult to force down. Though I took a couple more seasickness pills prior to dinner, on board Doctor Roger suggested I didn’t immediately go and lie down so I spent a very enjoyable forty minutes on the bridge watching the ship cope with the conditions in ‘Widescreen’. Saw a Seal porpoise in front of us and a couple more Wandering Albatross flying along with us. Amazing how the birds stay with the ship. Rodney finally made an announcement that all but the really experienced boat people should go to bed and ride out the weather, as it was about to get worse. We had been heading straight into the wind and waves during dinner but our heading needed to be further east and from now on we would take the sea’s action beam on and ‘ROCK’! He was correct and as my sleeping position was at 90 degrees to the side of the boat I spent the night banging my head and then stamping my feet.Amazingly I wasn’t sick and even though the guy I was sharing the cabin with was sick in the bunk below The Spirit of Enderby arrives off The Snares. That’s me in the orange jumper! With The Spirit on the horizon we climb on board a Zodiac in Carnley harbour. us and she managed ok with a little bit of assistance, it all adds to the excitement. Whilst we couldn’t land we got really close to the island, cruising into small bays where there was respite from the rolling sea. The birders amongst us (ok,including me) got very excited as