We were woken this morning by the sounds of the crew raising the anchor and starting the engine. Our safe anchoring spot on the south side of the Princes group had become very lumpy overnight as we began to get the first southwest swells meeting the rising north-east winds, and Matt the skipper decided it was time to head to a safer anchorage next to Great Island, a much larger island four and half nautical miles to the east.
Last night the increasing wind brought a deep sea search for fish - out over the 300-metre depth mark - to a halt as it became impossible to deploy the light traps and cages into the water, and that wind marked a change in our weather fortunes. The Three Kings are incredibly exposed to weather from any direction so we’ve been lucky to get four excellent working days around the Princes Islands. The divers went out again this morning, but the sea continued to get choppier and the swells continued to rise so that was it for today – and it now seems we might be stuck on board for the next day or two. This is the view of Great Island from our new anchorage in Northwest Bay.
And just to show that we’re not totally obsessed with underwater life, we were working yesterday around Rosemary Rock which is home to a small breeding colony of Buller’s albatrosses. All the islands are covered in thousands of gannets, but on the south side of Rosemary Rock there is this small colony of albatrosses, which Malcolm tells me were discovered in 1983 during an expedition he was on. This colony is a very long way from the main breeding colonies on the Chathams and the Snares!
Yesterday Malcolm counted just seven adults and four big fluffy chicks up in the colony. They were far away and small even with binoculars but during the afternoon a couple came and visited the boat.
And of course we have to mention the bottlenose dolphins that have kept us company as we’ve worked around the Princes group
– we saw them every day so we think they must be a resident pod.
So it’s farewell Princes and perhaps farewell to these bottlenose dolphins but when the weather clears we’re hopeful the Great Islands will share some of its marine treasures too. Speaking of treasure we couldn’t resist a dive around the Elingamite wreck so we’ll share a photo of that in our next blog.