It’s the change of season again for the R. Tucker Thompson and we are now back running our youth sail training programmes for 2011.
Our first trip departed on a wet and windy ANZAC Monday with 12 youngsters on board, but the weather has improved somewhat and they have already been out to the Poor Knights and back. The crew file regular reports from on board to keep parents informed if you want to check their whereabouts, just check the updates on our website
It’s been a challenging summer and I doubt whether anyone in the tourism industry will be celebrating a great season. But although the UK and Europe markets (our traditional customers) were substantially down, it was really pleasing to see an increase in people from Northland on board, many of whom saw sailing on the Tucker as a great way to celebrate a birthday or a special event.
Of course we rely heavily on the profits from our tourism activities over summer to help fund the delivery of our youth trips for the rest of the year. This profit, along with donations received, help us to subsidise the cost of the voyages for Northland youngsters. We elected to absorb the October GST increase ourselves and have retained the cost to families of $750 per child for the 7-day trip, however cost pressures such as the increase in fuel and food, as well as wages have meant that the real cost of running the voyage has increased to $1,624 per head.
With the Rugby World Cup shortening our season, our goal this winter is to take 120 youngsters on youth development voyages (up from 114 last year), increasing to 150 next year. We have therefore been delighted to receive funding from ASB Community Trust through their Community funding stream to support 30 fully funded places this year. We have contacted community organisations across the region, with a particular focus on rural areas to invite them to submit the names of their taitamariki showing leadership and initiative.
Far North Holdings have also confirmed their sponsorship of 7 places this year, with Northpower and Top Energy also continuing to sponsor the Tai Tokerau Tall Ship Challenge voyage taking place on 13th-19th May. We will be taking 6 schools from across the region to compete against each other for a beautiful trophy. So for the first six voyages we have nearly filled all the available berths, which is great news.
We have also had great support from a number of Lions groups across the region that are either selecting their own youngsters or asking us to allocate a place for a youngster from their community via their local school. In addition we continue to recieve a number of funded places through Child, Youth & Family each year for youth identified to be at risk of poor life outcomes.
We now have a waiting list of youngsters and we are actively working to seek funding so they can go on a voyage. If you feel you want to help, please check out our Mates of the Tucker programme.
We have another major maintenance programme planned over August, with the ship being hauled out, being blasted back and receiving her 25 year hull survey. We also plan to replace the engine at the same time, as well as the normal painting, varnishing and other aesthetics. So if there are any interested volunteers wanting to pick up a sander or paintbrush, do get in touch!
In the meantime, keep an eye out for the Tucker in the Bay or up and down the coast and know that she is changing lives for the youngsters lucky enough to be on board.