Getting into the Sounds is remedy for anything
Anyone who has read my blogs will have picked up clues that I have developed up a need to get out in the Sounds, particularly on a yacht with the motor off and the sails full.
It has become of one the real pleasures of life.
Clear, deep water surrounded by beautiful hills and topped with (usually) clear blue skies.
The realities of earning a living have prevented me from getting out on the water for the past couple of months, and the lack of a weekly blow-out hasn't helped my head space. Some people close to me have even suggested I've become even more of a grumpy old bugger.
This week, though, the stars were aligned and everything was in place so I could get out with the crew. I warned the team at work that I would be leaving early on the day and anyone who tried to get in my road might like to rethink their future. (You can tell I'm a sensitive, caring co-worker.) They all thought it was a great idea that I leave as soon as possible.
So I met up with the rest of the crew, we agreed not to talk work and headed out from Waikawa with the rest of the fleet for an evening of racing. The clouds rolled in but the rain held off. It remained warm and the wind died but kept blowing enough for the fleet to finish a shortened course.
That's the technical stuff.
The non-technical stuff is that getting out of the office early (with only a slight feeling of guilt) and into the Sounds is the best mental health remedy around. After a couple of hours yakking and just taking in the splendour of the place (and trying to pull the right ropes at the right time), I could take on the world again.
The Sounds have the same effect on everyone I've talked to. People like our Outdoors blogger Mark Watson and one of our advertising team, Annie Parker - they've both been going out there since they were children and you see the shine in their eyes when they talk about it.
A young friend who spent three weeks around Anakiwa on an Outward Bound course also talked about the beauty and isolation of the place. It was a special experience for her being out there.
I still haven't been far up the Wairau Valley, which is a poor admission after two and a half years in the region, but the Sounds keep pulling me in the other direction. There is so much to explore out there by road, too, although I'd rather do it more slowly on a bike.
At this time of year, the water starts to fill up with all the boaties on holiday, which spoils it a bit. Especially the fizz boats and jetskis - oh how I have changed my tune from a couple of years ago when I couldn't wait to get out on the lakes and do some waterskiing.
The folks out dangling a line in the hope of catching some blue cod and snapper probably feel the same way, but all recreational users have a right to enjoy the space - as long as they don't spoil it for others.
When the going gets really rough, drive out to a quiet bay and dangle your feet in the water. It's the best remedy out.
The Marlborough Express