Fiordland: 50 Knot winds & 3m swell


I’ve been on or around trailer boats for over 30 years, and I have been in some conditions that have pushed the limits of not just the boats but my own skills. I found myself inadvertently in another one of those situations on my recent trip to Fiordland. I knew from the forecast there was a solid 2-3 m southerly swell running up the coast and 10-20knots of southerly wind to arrive mid-afternoon. I thought ‘no problem’ and expected a nice easy run home to Milford sound.

All was going as expected but next minute it turned ferocious. The winds built significantly and incredibly fast. Within seconds the sea turned into a very angry wild animal and before we could react the tender was ripped off its tow line and flying through the air. I quickly rounded and nosed back into the swell and wind to collect her. We quickly deflated the tender and stowed it along with the canopy. Then I checked everyone was happy as I planned to turn on the next swell, open the throttle and run for Milford. It was a following sea and the wind on our starboard, I advised the crew to hang on.

Well! The next 90minutes, from my perspective anyway, was exhilarating and bloody awesome all mixed with a shred of terror. It only takes one thing to go wrong and there can be a very different outcome. However, in my opinion, we were as prepared as we could be and onboard the best 10m aluminium blue water trailer boat available. This boat has been built and designed for situations like this.

Surfing 3 meter swells at 20knots plus it was hard to keep the smile off my face. The boat never once gave us a cause for concern and the flared bow performed to perfection. I had some very experienced crew on board that own yachts and boats, Duncan even has his offshore skippers tickets and many hours of experience. To say they were impressed with the performance of the boat in these conditions would be an understatement. The boat never once felt like it was going to broach or that I would lose control during this wild ride.

The Volvo engine was superb as I feathered the power surfing down one swell and then pushing up through the next. The cross winds were ferocious exceeding 50knots at times as they funnelled down out of the valley’s and 1000m high rugged mountains lining the Fiordland coast. At times the swells were literally ripped apart and flattened by the gusts.

To be honest it was a mixture of disappointment and relief as we entered Milford sound. I was having such an amazing fun time and it reminded me so much of my younger windsurfing days riding the swells off the coast in Hawaii. We looked at each other all a little stunned at what we had just experienced . Our first point of discussion was ‘What had we just experienced in a trailer boat?’ This was because it had performed beyond all our expectations and proved itself to be a true blue water boat.

I know whenever I make a decision to invest in my next boat I spend many sleepless nights stressing over the decision. Hours comparing brands, the pros and cons. One of my main drivers with my present boat was to purchase the best blue water boat available. I will not lie, I have the odd teething problem as any boat owner would know, however I absolutely do not regret my decision to invest in a Makaira.

Trip Report: Beautiful Fiordland, New Zealand

Another- ABSOLUTELY -Epic 18-day adventure.

Whanganui to Fiordland return via Milford sound.

A 2700km road trip and the f350 loved every minute of it.

With such an impressive combination of trailer boat and tow vehicle we attracted a lot of very positive attention every step of the way. Lots of great conversations were had with complete strangers and sometimes we struggled to break away from them when we stopped for fuel, coffees, or food to continue our journey.

This trips crew were long term friends Kevin and Duncan from Whanganui and Wanaka, and my father Vic from Timaru. Vic inspires me at 90yrs of age and he is still out there doing it.

Kevin and I allowed 3 days travel time either way to take the pressure off and catch up with family along the way in Kaikoura and Timaru.

The road trip was amazing as we have such a beautiful country with so much variation and spectacular views around every corner.

To say I was relieved when we were safely through the Homer tunnel and down into Milford Sound would be an understatement.

The engine breaking on the truck was spectacular, and I wouldn’t like to attempt the decent into the Fiord with such a big rig with a combined weight over 10.5 tons without it.

The views were epic, and it’s hard to describe just how special this part of NZ is.



We had always planned to arrive later in the evening to avoid most of the outbound tourist traffic on the road so on arrival we spent a couple of hours setting up the boat. Pumped up the Takacat tender, which exceeded my expectations overall over the entire trip. I have no issues recommending this option for those looking for an inflatable tender.

We then overnighted in the boat on the hard and launched early the next morning.

The boat ramp at freshwater basin was excellent but the channel from the basin to the main sound is narrow and leaves little room for error especially at low tide.

We trolled lures as we headed south from Milford hoping for a tuna, as we did whenever we moved between sounds, but unfortunately they eluded us

Overall, we had amazing weather with only one day of true west coast rain which ignited the waterfalls which were impressive. We spent most of our trip in George and Bligh sounds and the days just disappeared. We managed to get a spiker up the Wild native’s river and shot another on a slip which despite my best efforts I could not recover. I can also personally recommend the benefits of getting back to the boat and out of the bush by dark as things get very interesting otherwise.

The diving was a highlight for us all with the crystal-clear water, out the front of the sounds, and the amazing Black and White coral under the freshwater layer in the inner sounds. We ate ourselves sick with crayfish, cod and venison over the trip and only kept a few crayfish for family and friends and a couple of feeds of fish to take home.

On the final day as we ran back north to Milford, we got a chance to push Absolutely in a solid 3m following sea with 30-50knots of cross winds which provided us with an exhilarating ride and the boat excelled in the conditions it was built to handle.

It was another Epic trip and a big thanks to Allan, Ethan, Dan, and the team at Makaira for helping make my dreams turn to reality.