Trip Report: Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand


Boat: 'Absolutely'

Model: Makaira Gen3 1000

Engine: Volvo D6 380hp

Distance Travelled: 100NM+

Diesel Burned: 200l (53gal)

Trolling: 7knots

Running: 24knots

Embarking on a first-time journey in my new Makaira 10m trailer boat to the Marlborough Sounds from Mana Boat Club was an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation and excitement. Despite a less-than-ideal weather forecast for the trip across Cook Strait, our spirits were high, and the promise of an excellent Saturday kept us optimistic. With the new boat in tow, we set out from Whanganui on a Thursday morning, making a quick stop for supplies along the way.

Smooth Launch at Mana Boat Club:

The journey began smoothly with the excellent launching facilities at Mana Boat Club. The seamless process of getting our boat in the water set a positive tone for the adventure ahead. However, my slight anxiety about having a new crew on board was quickly dispelled as they proved to be an exceptional team throughout the entire weekend.


Mastering the Conditions with the Windy App:

With the unpredictable weather conditions, careful planning was essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. The Windy app has emerged as my go-to tool for assessing the weather, ensuring that we were well-informed and prepared for the journey. The forecast indicated less-than-average conditions for the Cook Strait crossing, but we were pleased to find a narrow window of opportunity around midday and we also made a strategic decision to alter our intentions of heading to Durville Island due to the poor forecast. Opting for a safer route, we headed towards Cape Koamaru and entered Queen Charlotte Sound.

A Crossing in Favorable Conditions:

The decision to synchronize our crossing with the tide, current, 1-meter swell, and 20 knots of wind all moving in the same direction proved to be a game-changer. The result was a surprisingly calm journey, with the boat gliding smoothly across the waters at 24 knots and using 2.3 litres per nautical mile The pleasant conditions made the crossing enjoyable for both seasoned sailors and those new to the experience.

Weekend Bliss in Marlborough Sounds:

Arriving in the Marlborough Sounds, the beauty of the landscape unfolded before us, making the entire journey worthwhile. The picturesque surroundings, coupled with the camaraderie of the crew, created an unforgettable experience.

Despite the ban on blue cod fishing in the Challenger area, at this time of year, which includes all of the Sounds we towed lures with the hopes of hooking a kingfish or kahawai. Unfortunately, the sea remained elusive in that regard. Instead, we found ourselves engaged in an unexpected battle with barracuda, which resulted in the loss of some of my favourite lures.

Undeterred by the lack of success, we decided to moor overnight at Burneys Beach on the Mana Club mooring. The evening was spent swapping stories and enjoying the tranquil surroundings, creating a sense of camaraderie among the crew, and of course over some excellent food and beverages.

Friday dawned with a gusty wind of 30 knots from the south, exactly as forecasted. Undeterred by the challenging conditions, we spent the day cruising around the breath-taking Marlborough Sounds. The picturesque landscapes and the diverse marine life provided a memorable backdrop to our journey.

Anticipating Saturday's promising weather, we strategically moored close to the entrance behind Cooper Point. As dawn broke on Saturday, we set out for an early start, making our way to the Brothers. The fishing was exceptional, and it didn't take long before we reeled in some impressive cod. Eager for more, we proceeded to Fisherman's Rock in hopes of a drift for puka or a blue nose, but despite our efforts, success eluded us.








With the day drawing to a close, we made our way back towards Mana to avoid the adverse weather forecasted for later in the day. Saturday night was spent moored up at the Mana Marina, where we celebrated our day's exploits with a delicious feast, featuring the fresh catch of the day.

As we reflected on the weekend's adventures, it became clear that flexibility, adaptability, and a positive attitude were key to turning potential challenges into opportunities for unexpected joys. The Marlborough Sounds had not only tested our seamanship but had also rewarded us with stunning scenery, excellent fishing, and the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences on the open water. The first trip from Mana Boat Club to the Marlborough Sounds had truly become an unforgettable chapter in our seafaring journey.