Bluff is a small place famed for it's oysters - there is even a song about oysters from Bluff. Unfortunately the oysters are wild not farmed & the season was closed so we never got to taste a Bluff oyster. We did walk into town, do our washing at a backpacker hostel, top up our diesel tank with 10 litre jerrycans of fuel, eat a few vennison pies, and walk to the top of Bluff peak.  The devonshire tea we were drooling for on the way down from the Bluff was not to be as the 2 food places at Stirling Point close about 3pm.

We caught up with Meri who competently handled Bluff Fisherman's Radio and coordinated Customs etc for us, and met Raoul a photographer who entertained us to dinner on several occasions.Raoul kindly ran us into Invercargill to purchase wireless broadband & a local sim card.  Also met up with a couple more yachts, Dingo and Nakina. We entertained Mike Jim & Rejeanne from Dingo to dinner & vice verca, & small world Jim is a GP from Coffs Harbour who knew brother Peter when he had his Pathology practice there!

The jetty at Bluff was boisterous with 25 to 40 knot winds whipping up a sharp sea against the current, causing the bow & stern to seesaw up & down 2+ metres. We actually started to feel seasick while alongside, and made sure that the fenders or fenderboards were kept in position to protect the boat. Fortunately we never experienced a beam wind blowing us over into the jetty, but it was hair raising on occassions. The fishing boats being that much longer did not pitch about anywhere near as much.  We visited the maritime museum, but overall it was a bit sad to see so many restaurants closed, hotels & hostels up for sale & no oysters available

After about 12 days in Bluff we took advantage of a rare light northerly wind to depart, along with the other 2 yachts and head over to Stewart Island again. We motored accross the straits & between various islands past Oban and into Paterson's Inlet, dropping anchor at a very protected Glory Cove alongside Russ & Alan from Nakina. We entertained them with a cup of tea & were then visited by a couple of hunters / divers who presented us with some green lipped mussels.  Russ came over later on with some blue cod that he had caught, so we were being well supplied without breaking out our own fishing gear!

We spent 3 days in this pleasant safe cove, watching birds & penguins, and then took advantage of a moderate westerly wind to sail to Dunedin, about 160 miles away. 15 to 20 knots from the stern quarter, lots of islands & rocks to pass by, gradually closing the coast of mainland South Island and getting around the corner.  We had covered 80 miles by the time it was dark just after Nugget Point, and the wind dropped off entirely. Passed close by a fishing boat & hailed him on the hand held VHF radio to see if it was safe to pass behind him.  We motored all through the night as it became oily calm and about 3am decided to try out our electric "tiller pilot", which managed to steer the boat making it much easier on us. (the Aries wind vane can't steer the boat in no wind).  In the morning it was still dead calm & we saw some seals, yellow eyed penguins, blue penguins & of course albatross, shearwaters, & what looked like skuas.

Again we contacted Port Control on the radio & followed a large container ship into the harbour with a flooding tide helping us on our way.  The channel is very narrow & harbour authorities do not allow yachts to be in the channel at the same time as shipping. We were directed to a lay alongside pile berth at the fisherman's coop, under the direction of Harbour Control, and spent the day and night here.  A cruise ship Dawn Princess was in town & we checked to see if friends John & Daph were on board, but we think they were on the previous visit a week or so before. Walked around Port Chalmers, enjoying some walks and food, & met Jim from Harbour Control. We phoned the Otago Yacht Club at Dunedin, another 6 miles further up river, & caretaker Kevin offered to pick us up, show us the yacht club, entrance, leadmarks, and our berth, with advice that the weather was deteriorating, and this afternoon's tide was suitable to enter.  So we set off at 2pm to arrive at the club at high tide. Kevin took our line & gave us litterature about the club & Dunedin, maps etc.  The club has a laundry, showers, power etc for $7.50 per day, plus $5.00 per person. Very perfect.

So we are now plugged into power, up to date with website, & have seen a bit of Dunedin & step sister in law who lives here. Lynda has shown us around, & we have been to Art Gallery, Ecosanctuary, museum, bottanical gardens, and a few other things.  Plenty of washing through the laundry as well so it doesn't get better than this!

We are unaffected by the Christchurch earthquake, about 150 miles north of us, but will probably not now visit Lyttleton which has significant dammage.  Will look at next stop at Arkaroa if that hasn't been affected, and gradually work our way north towards Aukland.

All for now
Mike & Gay