Our April speaker was Emily Riley who spoke to a packed clubroom about her solo circumnavigation around the South Island.
Emily is a very good friend of mine and she started sailing on Wildwood with me a few years before she purchased her yacht Honey from Auckland.
Honey, a Sadler 32 was exactly what Emily was looking for, and once she bought her we flew up to Auckland and spent a very enjoyable weekend cruising Honey around Waiheke Island with the rest of the Wildwood crew.
After that, Emily sailed Honey from Auckland back to Lyttelton with the help of her Dad and a family friend with a few issues, injuries and weather challenges along the way. We sailed out on Wildwood to meet her at the heads and escorted her to Diamond Harbour where we cracked open a bottle of champagne to celebrate her arrival.
The smile on Emily’s face says it all!
After that, Emily spent the rest of the year getting Honey prepared for her next adventure – a solo circumnavigation of New Zealand.
One of the preparations was sailing Honey in the NPCL winter series races. There were a few arguments over crew, and on one occasion we had to settle the dispute with a good old fashioned arm wrestle!
After all the preparations were done, Christmas was soon rushing around, and Emily’s departure date was looming. We flew down to Stewart Island in anticipation of meeting her there, but the weather wasn’t playing along, and we had to leave when Emily was still en route. Thankfully she arrived safely in Stewart Island and managed to get her anchor down before another Westerly storm roared through, causing Honey to drag her anchor and giving Emily a big fright. We had experienced first hand the weather conditions in that part of the world just the week before on Riot, and I could totally understand her apprehension. It was challenging with three of us on board, and I could only imagine how terrifying that must have been on her own.
Emily described the situation perfectly and I remember having a long conversation with her on the phone, supporting her with whatever decision she made – either to carry on, or to pull the pin. We arranged for a new boat hook to be sent down to replace the one that had been lost over the side. Thankfully the weather calmed down and Emily and Honey managed to get out and explore some more of Stewart Island and regained some confidence to continue.
Emily read out some of the rules that she had set for herself after that experience. Many of which focused around having fun, being safe and keeping a close eye on the weather!
From there they carried on to Fiordland and had a wonderful time exploring the Fiords and hanging out with the fishermen and various visitors. Her sat phone was playing up, and her Dad managed to get one delivered to her with the help from some complete strangers who all combined together to pass the phone from one person to the next to eventually have it delivered to Emily by a helicopter that was flying in to collect crayfish.
Emily’s photographs of the area were absolutely stunning and had us all enviously admiring the places she had visited and the spectacular scenery that Fiordland offers.
A perfect weather opportunity arose which allowed Emily and Honey to make the long haul up the West Coast to Golden Bay. She stayed well off shore during the three day trip and she had some amazing views of Mt Cook on the way up, and took care to keep a long way off Farewell spit, before rounding the corner and dropping anchor in Golden Bay.
Emily was joined by her Mum while they cruised around the Abel Tasman, and as with all her other visitors she made sure that she dropped them off at their pick up point so she could earnestly say that she had sailed around alone.
In Fiordland Honey had managed to get a rope wrapped around the propellor and since then the motor had a funny vibration, so Emily headed for her Dad’s bach in Kenepuru Sound to do some repairs. It was while she was here that she decided to not continue on around the North Island, and she instead decided to come back to Lyttelton. The North Island was always going to be there, and work was calling. The trip had taken a lot longer than anticipated and she didn’t want to rush the North Island part.
So she set off for Lyttelton, planning her trip via Kaikoura for the daytime to try and see some whales, which unfortunately weren’t around that day. Arriving in the middle of the night, Emily picked up the mooring in Little Port Cooper to time her arrival in Lyttelton for a more sociable hour for the family to come and welcome her home.
We were racing round to Pigeon Bay that day, and managed to do a sail past Honey on her way back down the harbour after an amazing adventure.
It was great to hear Emily’s first hand account of the whole trip. I followed her blog closely throughout her travels, and you can read all about her adventures and check out her lovely photos on her blog http://emilycirclesnewzealand.blogspot.co.nz