Cruising Doubtful Sound
Located in the far southwest corner of New Zealand, Doubtful Sound was first named ͞Doubtful Harbor͟by Captain James Cook, who observed the inlet as he sailed past it and declined entering because it looked too tight for his ship. The place is often referred to as the ͞Sound of Silence͟ for its stillness and quiet visitors feel upon entering the fjord. Doubtful Sound is the deepest and second-longest fjord in the region (421 meters deep and 40 km long), second to nearby Milford Sound. Doubtful Sound contains two separate layers of water: fresh water on the surface fed by mountain run-off, and salt water from the sea beneath. These waters do not mix, resulting in two contrasting layers with differing refractive properties that make it difficult for light to penetrate. This phenomenon makes it possible for deep-sea species that are more light-sensitive, such as black coral, to flourish in relatively shallow waters. There are three distinguishable arms to Doubtful Sound all extending southward. The shortest is First Arm at 6km long, followed by the longest Crooked Arm at 14 km, and Hall Arm at 8 km long. Cruise these arms of Doubtful Sound to see its spectacular waterfalls, such as Helena Falls (220 meters high) and the impressive Browne Falls cascades (619 meters). Keep your eyes open for wildlife such as Fjordland crested penguins, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals which may be spotted on the small islets that create the entry point to the fjord.