Having decided to go and explore Fiordland, we waited an extra day to make sure we'd have bright sunshine: The weather forecast proved correct and we had beautiful unlimited sunshine for our visit.
Parts of the conservancy are only open to visitors with local guides. Having none, we went to Kynloch Inlet, which doesn't necessitate one.
Arriving in the inlet and the whole area we were welcomed by a huge waterfall at the entrance, then, as we got deeper in the fjords, the mountains grew steeper and taller, the passage narrower.
Breathtaking and awe inspiring to say the least. Di and I kept pointing fingers at yet another beautiful scene, a deep "U-shaped" valley carved by ancient glaciers, towering rocks and sheer cliffs.
As often in deep fjords anchoring is difficult but the head of Kynloch Inlet provides a narrow band at the mouth of the rivers, formed by sedimentation. One minute you're in a thousand feet deep waters, the next the bottom is rushing up at you and you're in 40 feet. Another 100 feet towards the land and you're in shallow waters where even the tender can't go.
We've done our share of anchoring in those situations now, so had no major problem dropping a lot of chain in about 80 feet of water, only to have our stern be in 40 feet depth. It's the price you pay to stay in such an incredible place.
A few times Di told me Kynloch Inlet was in her "top 5", before reviewing her ranking to "top 2" after we spend one evening in the tender watching a black bear ashore catch salmons in a tide pool.
With the good weather holding we decided to extend our stay. Why leave paradise we reasoned?
By the second day, our only neighbor, a large sailing exploration charter, left and we had the immensity of the place to ourselves.
Huge salmons were jumping all around us, in the distance humpback whales were breaching loudly. We'd see them jump, then see the big splash of water followed a few seconds later by a loud boom echoing against the rock cliffs.
The tides forced us to choose different landing points to go ashore for Princess' regular walks, and each time we found a nicer one than the previous.
Princess particularly enjoyed running in the meadow's tall grass, jumping and zooming with joy after days of fairly limited shore walks.
The mouths of the rivers where full of large salmons jumping. We could see huge schools of them in the clear waters, and they'd jump even more when we approached them with our tender on our way back to the boat. Princess was very interested, but hasn't proved to be a good salmon hunter yet.
Walking the meadows at low tide, we were obviously in bear territory, soon confirmed when we found clear bear tracks in the mud and sand.
On our return one evening, we finally saw the bear: A good sized black bear foraging the coast. We followed him from a good distance on the tender, shutting the engine down to not disturb him.
Soon he went upriver and we could see it jumping in a tide pool to catch salmons. We couldn't see the water from the tender, but we'd see the top of the bear and hear the loud splashes as he pounced on the salmons.
The spectacle lasted a long time, and we went back to Enfin, sitting on the fore-deck with binoculars to catch as much of it as we could.
With the weather forecast starting to turn, and low clouds to come, our time in Fiordland Conservancy was coming to an end, but not before we enjoyed the expanse of the scenery one last time.
We left Kynloch Inlet in the fog, the tops of the mountains now hidden, and I plotted a course to one of our favorite spots on the way up to Alaska: Hakai Institute:
The route I selected had us weave in and out of tight passages to stay on the inside as much as possible and protect us from an old swell coming in from the Pacific Ocean.
We'll spend a few days at Hakai Institute to relax and enjoy the walks and the beautiful beach.
The first depression of the season is also due to come in, so we'll likely wait for it to pass by before we resume our passage South.