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.