How did Doubtful Sound get its name? One Capt James Cook (from my home area in NE England) arrived at the west coast of S Island in 1773, studied the entrance of a fjord, wondered whether to enter, hesitated, and decided against. The dominant westerlies could keep him locked in for up to a month. His hesitation made him ‘doubtful’….hence it’s name.
20 years later, along came the Spaniard Malaespinas, and they made the first entry in rowing boats, and began mapping the hydrography and the coastline.
But first we had to pay a visit to the largest hydroelectric power station in all of NZ
that can produce more than 800 megawatts of power. The story of its construction and the lives lost in the process was very moving.
Although called a Sound, it is actually a fjord, measuring 40km in length. Our launch took us the full length and out into the Tasman Sea
discovering the legacy of recent major earthquakes and tree avalanches
and the appalling statistics of rainfall: 8 metres in an average year, but in 2009 a massive (and hugely destructive) 16 metres of rain fell. To stir your visualisation of what this means: imagine the UK rainfall of 2012 x 12……..and you have some idea.
And to think we had another dry, sunny day for our trip today! It would seem I landed on my feet twice……which means for the rest of you, the odds are massively stacked against you. Sorry about that!
But if you help the Children in Syria, your chances of a fine day in the Sounds is vastly improved…… believe me!
The impact of sailing in and out of some of Norway’s spectacular fjords beggars description in words. Even photos fail to adequately capture the moment, bereft as they are of the interplay of all the senses when those moments occurred. As we entered the Sognefjorden (at 128 miles/206kms, the longest fjord in Norway) in the small hours of the morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed just after 5am, to spend three hours watching the sun rise over the mountains and bathe the stunning landscapes in an awe-inspiring combination of light and shade. As deep as the neighbouring mountains are high, at times the width of the fjord only just allowed the passage of our ship, adding to the sense of astonishment.