Tutukaka’s waters shocked us awake for the last time this voyage. It splashed reminiscently from buckets, onto the deck and over our feet, inviting our trainees to return again and asking them not to forget it, or the voyage they are soon to return from. Duties and breakfast went on with chatter and sunshine, but as we prepared to set sail for Urquharts Bay the sky clouded over and drizzled jealously over our heads and sails.
With Tutukaka in our wake and the rain and sea air on our faces we set off to catch the wind with Winter at the helm. Captain Steve worked his magic and in no time we were racing up and down and all around the ship unfurling sails, coiling ropes, trying not to and inevitably getting showered by the salted ocean spray. The coastal waters seemed to kick up a fuss as we sailed on happily and as the water and wind began to tag team us we heaved and ho’d just as hard. The ship settled happily at forty-five degrees and we went about the ship like we were extras in the video for Micheal Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”.
Finishing our number with a polished tack, we brought our sails down and motored the last short section of open water to Urquharts Bay. Lunch was a pristine lasagne, compliments of our weeks galley-captain, Sophie. Lunch and our passengers settled before we headed to shore for an afternoon hike. The gun shelters, hillsides and vistas slowed our passage as we found ourselves engulfed in each and every sight. Kylie and Winter disappeared for a while before appearing at the bottom of the track with a large bundle of flax. We returned to the tender with our building materials and the rope swing, shrouds and waters were instantly populated with swimmers, swingers and back-flippers.
An hour later, the swimmers were still up and at it, despite the cooling waters and setting sun. A life-ring and throw line were set up in another peanut slab challenge and our enthusiastic line-handler, Raymond proved his worth earning the peanut slab with ease. As you read, we are being tortured with the smell of pork roast that despite being in the oven and incomplete, it still manages to draw the saliva from our mouths. Our trainees are all itching and ready to get back ashore to work, play, school friends and family whilst the crew are looking forward to being home and hosed before the next voyage which departs this Saturday from Marsden Cove.
So whether we see you when we arrive tomorrow to return your children to you, or Saturday to see them off we look forward to sharing the next chapter of the R. Tucker Thompson with the world.
The signal lights of Tutukaka Marina still glowed gently in the morning light. Waking from their well-earned sleep the trainees were straight back into their usual routine. The locals tending to their moored craft or setting out for a day’s fishing or sightseeing with friends watched on in disbelieving awe as our youth threw themselves into the waters at first light. Bombs, dives and flips from the shrouds and rope-swing gave the onlookers their moneys worth and some even stuck around as chores progressed. With just another morning aboard R. Tucker done and dusted it was time for the day to begin.
Yesterday’s trip to the Poor Knights pushed the stamina and practical knowledge of our trainees and today was to be a test of their theoretical know-how and can-do. The morning was hard-packed with lessons and log-book work before hot chocolate, marshmallows and fresh-air broke the cycle. The days lessons were out of the way, but there was still more to come. Recess was over and it came time for Part One of the VHF Radio exam. The ship fell silent at mid-day as exam conditions were imposed and papers were distributed. Some murmured last-second revision and others sat patiently and poker-faced until the exam began officially.
Freed from classes, study and their exam the trainees seem to exude relief as they bolted on deck and laid back in the sunshine. The tender was lowered and loaded and we set off to a nearby beach for some well-earned R&R. ‘Land!!’ they exclaimed happily, as if they’d been stranded at sea for weeks on end. Footprints coated the sand quickly and the grassy verge felt underfoot was warmly and vocally welcomed. A basketball became a soccer ball and Fred, the man-overboard drill veteran was the centrepiece in a game of touch rugby. Kylie taught Adagio whilst the boys coated themselves in the sweat, mud and grass that comes with any makeshift rugby field. Even if it is only twenty metres long…
We departed the beach, but we were not long gone when public toilets were spotted in the next bay. Eleven sets of ‘puppy eyes’ were instantly focused on our tender-driver who buckled under the pressure. We arrived on shore again and in an instant there was a queue for the first ‘normal’ toilet stop all week. There was a somewhat communal sigh of relief as they took their turns in luxury, but as the queue diminished, ever so slowly, the rain began to set in. Hurried on by the weather and those waiting in line or to go back ashore the queue moved faster than ever. The tender was boarded again and we made our way back to the ship.
The smell of freshly baked pizza welcomed us aboard and the tender was hoisted in record time. The pizza went down like a sinker and rested gently at the bottom of our stomachs. The afternoon became a subdued affair of swimming, cards, song and chatter whilst the galley and it’s occupants were hard at work. Sophie baked brownies and Captain Steve prepared Eckles Cakes. Today’s galley-duty groups swooped in at the end of each baking session and made short work of the dishes and cleaning. Before we knew it satay chicken, rice and steamed vegies were on plates and the saloon was populated with hungry youngsters. Dinner was over in a blur and it was bunk-time in no-time. All-in-all, Day Five was thoroughly enjoyed by both the crew and trainees, but tomorrow is due to be another day back of the R. Tucker Thompson being back in full swing again.
The Russell Masonic Lodge, through the Kororareka Charitable Trust, is pleased to offer Sponsored Voyages for up to 5 students for Spring 2012. The places will be made available on either the September or October voyages which will entail a 7-day voyage on the R Tucker Thompson for a course in Leadership, Teamwork, Confidence and Seamanship.
If you reside in the Russell, Opua, Waikare or Eastern Bay of Islands/Rawhiti locale, are aged between 13 – 18 years of age, have goals and aspirations and particularly if you have achieved in some way through sport, education, music, community service, work etc, particularly if your socio-economic circumstances made this difficult for you, we would love to hear from you.
In the first instance, please contact the Secretary, Kororareka Masonic Lodge, Box 228, Russell, with your name, date of birth, address and a brief explanation of your background, parental situation, adversities, achievements, goals, objectives and why you think you should be chosen for such a voyage. An application form is provided to assist you below.
Please note: Applications will close on 15th July and some placements have already been made so please apply early!
You’ll find that most days, it is usually the bakery that is up and running in the early hours of the morning, preparing pastries, breads, pies and cakes for us to gawk at on the way to the school bus or chow on cheekily whilst the bus driver is watching the road. There was none of that for us today however, as our resident baker, and Captain for this weeks voyage had the entire ship up and out of their bunks at 4AM, give or take maybe two precious minutes of shut-eye. Our eyes adjusted slowly to the pre-dawn darkness as we fumbled our ways to the wet weather gear and fumbled some more until we were geared up and ready for action.
The cold breeze and invasive ocean spray worked in an eye-opening collaboration with our baker’s morning serenade. The combination of being sprayed with the cold saltwater and rinsed with spittle that was preceded by a shrill ♫GOOD MORNING♫ made sure we were and stayed awake. The crack of dawn was not yet visible as Raymond, Odette and Bryn were sent aloft to unfurl both sets of tops’ils whilst the rest of the crew and trainees were sent about the deck raising headsails, heaving haliyards and waiting patiently on the preventers. R. Tucker and her crew were ready to sail onwards into the dawn.
Having been taught about the subject of navigation and using cadastral and cardinal markers, particularly at night or with limited visibility, our trainees were given their chances at the helm. Sometimes nervously, but always eagerly they steered towards the distant light that marked our destination for the morning. Glimmering stars and phosphorescent organisms glittered in the sky and drifted helplessly in our wake, but little time was spent admiring them as the winds refused to settle and had us counting callouses as well as shooting stars whilst we changed sails, tailed our sweaters and navigated an obstacle course of serpentine ropes being coiled by their charmers, gumboots left behind by our shroud monkeys and constantly shifting swells and booms that kept us on our toes and off our backs.
Sleep was allocated in shifts and hot drinks were savoured in large slurps. In a deceitful blow, the wind kicked up again and it was all conscious hands on deck as battled again and again with our many lines in hand. As the sea began to accept us as passengers and fill our sails with plenty of wind to keep us going the horizon began its daily routine of navigating the colour spectrum. East and west were in constant denial of one another as the west refused to let the east’s streaks of pink, orange and light blue penetrate it’s solid black defences. The East however, as has happened day after day after day, still had it’s good old ace up its proverbial sleeve. The sun joined the fray between the horizon and low-lying clouds driving a passionate orange hard across the sea whilst it threw shaded tridents of light that traversed through gold, yellow, pink and a somewhat appeasing rust. Sullen and upstaged, the darkness of last night and the early morning retreated into infinity, leaving us with our first clear sighting of today’s first destination.
The Poor Knights Island was rich as it had ever been. Plush grass, smooth, refined rock faces and picturesque greenery flaunts itself freely day by day. Rounding its northern point and hiding from the weather, we enjoyed a well-earned breakfast and marveled at the sights. Our yet-to-be-completed morning swim was replaced by a snorkel beneath the archways of the Poor Knights. The marine reserve provided a spectacular background to our swim as we swam with the fish and wildlife, who remained completely unfazed and continued about their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, it became time for us to leave and so the upper topsail was furled, our main sail was reefed and we began to make way for Tutukaka.
Tutukaka welcomed us with shelter and sunshine, which was taken gladly, along with a pinch of salt on our curried sausage soup that was served as lunch, along with a bonus loaf of freshly baked bread. Plates were polished and a peanut slab was put up for grabs for the tidiest bunk before a well earned hour break was awarded to the ship and her occupants. Afternoon lessons prevailed and log books were filled in as crayfish pie was being assembled in the galley. Consisting of the Captains own pastry and seafood stock, as well as the essential crayfish captured by Steve and Kylie, the ship was again filled with appetising aromas.
Dinner was a silent affair, even more so than usual with general tiredness aiding a beautiful meal in stifling the massive amounts of energy that our trainees seem to be able to exude at any given time of the day. The days highs and lows were shared and lullabies sent us to our bunks. With a massive day of sailing, swimming, lessons and duties under their belts our trainees slept soundly in preparation for tomorrows adventure.
Last night we slept pleasantly, uninterrupted by nightwatch or foul weather. However, the morning brought with it grey skies, gusting winds and a large handful of rain and its cloudy counterparts. A benevolent Captain waived the morning swim but launched us straight into morning duties. The ship was left sparkling like a diamond in the rough seas and a hot breakfast warmed the core of the ship and its inhabitants. With our breakfast affairs over it became time for a morning lesson. Kylie took the youth into the saloon to continue working through their VHF radio course. They emerged bright and chipper only to be snagged by Steve for quick individual radio drills.
Drilled and tutored to the Cape and back, the anchor was hauled up and we set off to find a suitable spot to relax a little and hopefully catch the odd fish or two or three for tea. We had the entire ship on deck, chatting, laughing and tugging each others lines. Kailash, Bryn, Odette and Winter proved themselves to be valuable assets whilst the Captain was busy showing off the shark he pulled to the surface. On the verge of packing our lines away we were hit by a school of kahawai who took bait and hooked hooks as they went by. Needless to say, I managed the impressive feat of not getting a single bite whilst there were fish being pulled up port, starboard and amidships all around me.
Satisfied with our haul, we threw back the last few fish whilst the odd pair of gluttonous eyes looked hungrily at their former catches. We heaved anchor again and set out into the open for a leisurely sail with lunch. Egg fritata was greeted warmly with knife, fork and spoon and was sorely missed once it disappeared into our mouths, never to be seen again.
We plan to head back to Whangamumu for the afternoon and night to catch our appointment with hiking trails and waterfalls and also to postpone our appointment with dreary weather and seasickness. We will be out of blogging range for the rest of the day, so I must leave this post here. Stay tuned as we will update it and add photos when we return to signal range tomorrow.