Greeted for the final time by the morning sunrise over the hills of Oke Bay the ships occupants braved their morning swim and went amongst their duties. With today being the final full day on board, the trainees were last night given the opportunity to plan out the days activities. With a clear split between the keen hunter-gatherers and the more laid-back trail-goers they managed to find a pleasant middle-ground that satisfied all. Their newly-gained knowledge of tides and weather patterns aided them in providing the days curriculum. With the charts and markers in their hands the saloon was turned into a makeshift command centre/navigation station as they plotted and debated courses, destinations and activities. In the end they produced a solid programme and sitting here at the end of a long, awesome day (and week at that), it seems that they too are happy with their results.

After a breakfast of porridge and a three-way toast-eating competition our sea-tested youth were put to the ropes immediately. Azalea, Quinn, Batman (Bradley) and TK were hustled up the rigging to unfurl our topsil’s. After battling personal phobia, the rocking of the ship and the combination of verticality and close-quarters, our four new rope-monkey’s made their way deckwards with toothy grins and in one particular case, a cozy little smug was worn for some time after.Β  Sweating and tailing, tacking and wearing the trainees sailed us over their charted course with an almost crew-like proficiency. Some even fancy themselves to be future crew, but only time and hard work will sing that shanty.

With the wind in her sails and a certain bravado in her sailors, Tucker glided softly into Paradise Bay. Arriving ashore safe and dry we began our trek to Urupukapuka Bay. Marching on through the mud and the ti-tree, the trainees hiked, ran, laughed and even managed to sneak a jelly snake or two from the provisions pack. Emerging from the seemingly transient shade of the ti-tree into the gleaming sunshine of the summit of the hill that segregates Urupukapuka Bay from Otehi Bay, I saw the wistful glaze of pre-emptive reminiscence coat many an eye that gazed over the bays and islands of the Bay of Islands.

Making our way downhill the trainees were set loose upon Urupukapuka Bay. Milan made no haste in spotting and recovering a tennis ball from the heights of a shoreside tree whilst the ships camera was kidnapped and bombed with photos possibly meant for the portfolios of the aspiring models on board. Sandcastles and makeshift touch fields sprung up and sea-softened glass and sheep droppings were often found underfoot. As touch turned to rugby and the grassy field was exchanged for sand the tide rose higher and the clouds turned a shade of grey. A short sunshower saw our youth scurrying for cover in a flash before laughing at their over-reaction thirty seconds later. As the sunshower subsided but the grey clouds drew closer we were taken back on board for lunch by the Captain in the ever-trusty tender.

After a beautiful lunch of fish and chips served up by Rob and caught by our trainees the evening before, the sails went up and the sailors sailed on. Anchoring just off Motukauri Island, Rob and his ever-keen hunter-gatherers dissapeared around the point for a dive whilst the others remained for a swim, sunbathe and even a short snooze on the bowsprit. Returning just before a fresh bout of rain with nothing but photos and smiles on their faces, the hunter-gatherers were brought below decks to help prepare the nights dinner. After a thunderous game of ‘Pukana’ the table, saloon and cabins were made spotless as a sumptuous roast dinner was brought to the table. Faces lit up and silence ensued as the mountainous roast slowly, but surely got smaller and smaller in size. The silence was not held long as laughter, conversation and sail memories were struck up as well as personal jokes, friendly jibes and good times that all helped shape the vibe of tonight and the week gone past. Sadly, our journey together will not last as tonight is our last as a group. Tomorrow we look forward to seeing our sponsors from Far North Holdings aboard for a trip around the Bay before we return to re-unite our youth with their families, friends and ever-precious FaceBook.

We look forward to seeing you all at Opua tomorrow afternoon, hopefully you all recognize your young’uns! It’s impossible for us to be everywhere at once, so I’m sure they can help to fill in the missing parts of our voyage blog, as well as give you their own personal account of the trip.

Until tomorrow!

Crew of the good ship R. Tucker Thompson.