“A Mish a Day” #219 (Part 4) Doubtful Times and Doubtful Sound. Christchurch to Patea/Doubtful Sound. Fiordland National Park. 22.3.2020. It was dinner time when the crew onboard the Fiordland Navigator found out about the devastating effect Covid-19 was having around the world, and how it was about to turn everyone’s lives upside down.
For a group of people who just learnt they might be losing their jobs very soon, the crew were exceptionally professional, and didn’t miss a beat. After being full up on food and information the satisfied passengers all retreated to their cabins blissfully unaware of the bad news, and the only noise on the boat was the hum of the generator. Early-ish the next day the Fiordland Navigator burst into life, and we were on our way. Our journey had taken us out of Doubtful Sound and into Bradshaw Sound, for a night at the pristine location of Precipice Cove. The area is one of the most remote parts of Fiordland, and to travel there in the modern luxury of the Fiordland Navigator is a special way to see one of the last untouched places on earth. Our forecast couldn’t have been any better. Day one in glorious sunshine, and then day two dawned with the beginning of a Fiordland storm. Rain had already started to fall, and the misty cloud created an ever changing, moody environment. We cruised out of Bradshaw Sound and made our way back into the incredibly deep waters of Patea/Doubtful Sound. It was excellent to see certain parts of the Fiord that I usually wouldn’t see due to being busy stripping and making beds, plus all the other things that need to be done before the boat pulls alongside the wharf at the end of the trip. I did have a huge feeling of guilt watching all my fellow crew-mates rushing around making sure everything on the vessel was as good as it could be, and all the passengers were having the best experience possible. We made our way towards Hall Arm, and on the way we finally got some scale, as another boat cruised along beside us. The majestic location of Hall Arm is a place of legendary beauty. The calm waters make for reflections so clear a photo has no ‘upside down’, and anyone can take a picture worthy of framing and hanging on the wall. The Fiordland Navigator slowed as it approached the end of Hall Arm, and with a rumble of the engines we stopped. Next was an event that both passengers and crew can enjoy, and that is the opportunity to listen to the sound of Fiordland. Most people around the world will never have the opportunity to be in an area far away for the disturbance of other human beings and enjoy the ‘Sound of silence’. With nearly 8 billion people on earth, such total quietness is a rare treat. We sat at the head of Hall Arm listening to the pita-pata of rain, and the sound of the odd bird could be heard, as we became just another part of the scenery for a few minutes.
Reality kicked in with a raw of the Yanmar engines, and we were on the move again. The last part of the journey was bitter sweet, as we got our last views of the true ‘Lost World’ that is Patea/Doubtful. The escapism of cruising on the Fiord was coming to an end, and we were about to be returned to a world different to the one we were used to. For my last cruise in Doubtful Sound I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The weather was perfect, the food amazing, and the crew’s incredible efforts definitely enhanced our voyage. Massive thank you to all involved in our Doubtful Sound experience, from Manapouri to Doubtful Sound and back again we were spoiled by the staff and the epic scenery.