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.