23 January 2015

The City of Many Lovers (and Sails)

The 175th Anniversary of the founding of Auckland city is being celebrated this weekend with a range of events on Auckland's waterfront, including the annual Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta.

The Māori name for Auckland is Tāmaki Makaurau, which is often translated as "City of a thousand (or many) lovers". The harbours and the fertile volcanic soils have made the region an attractive destination for centuries.

1864 Auckland Anniversary Regatta

The region was first settled by Māori around 1350. With its two harbours, Waitemata and Manukau, and multiple routes to other parts of the North Island, it was an obvious centre for trade and commerce. Iwi from across New Zealand were drawn there to trade with the local people.

Because of the location and resources, William Hobson chose Auckland as the capital for the new British colony of New Zealand in 1841, until Wellington took its place in 1865.

Arrivals from overseas and from other parts of the country streamed to the city, with the first immigrant ships that sailed directly from Britain to Auckland arriving in 1842.

European settlement of New Zealand was mostly in the South Island in the mid 19th century, but Auckland soon became the commercial capital, and because of its ports and associated businesses, was New Zealand’s largest city by 1900.

Since then people from all over the world have continued to settle in Auckland, and people from other parts of New Zealand have moved to what has remained this country’s largest city.

The harbours are still a vital part of Auckland’s commerce and leisure, and a huge part of what makes the city loved. The popularity of sailing in the region has earned the city the nickname ‘City of Sails’, and visitors still flock to the city to enjoy its resources and beauty.

The love of the sea, sailing, and Auckland, will be on show on Monday in the Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta.

1978 Anniversary Day Regatta, Sea Spray photograph collection, NZ Maritime Museum (20053-15)

20 January 2015

Life on board a tall ship: the night watch and keeping clean on the ocean

It’s not all fun in the sun on board tall ship BREEZE! Here mate James Brock explains what it’s like sailing at night, as the crew make their way from the Bay of Islands down to Marsden Cove Marina for another week of public sailings.

“Night sailing is new for almost everyone in the crew as BREEZE has only just gained her life raft. After a lazy day’s wallow across from the Poor Knights to Whangaruru, we tacked just off the coast and went on a long reach across a dying northerly wind out to sea and into the night.

I took the first watch and ran through until 2am. It's a magical thing being under full canvas, rolling across a deep black swell with a full moon rising over the bow.

We ran north-east by east for several hours keeping Orion's Belt just off the topsail yard to start with, then picking other convenient stars as clouds feathered across and the Belt rose.

Just before midnight and around 11 nautical miles out from the coast the wind died and we sat, wallowed and waited. Fifteen minutes in of sliding over waves with apparent wind filling the sails and giving us false hope, a breath of wind rushed in from the south-west. We brought the helm over and the bow swung to the north-west, the sails filled and we changed course without touching a sheet.

Top hand Dan Brown came out with a great quote as he manned the helm- something about 'give me a tall ship and a star to point it at'? The morning after when you feel like hell, the poetry escapes you for a while...

We sailed into the Bay of Islands with five hands in the rigging stowing the sails in the warm orange dawn as the outgoing fishermen swarmed past us staring at the crew hanging off lines high above the deck."

When the sun comes up there's plenty to keep the crew entertained during daylight hours, including the challenging task of keeping clean! James explains.....

"Everywhere you look off the coast of New Zealand you find awesome wildlife. We've seen dolphin pods galore, flocks of shearwater, silently gliding petrels, flying fish, sharks. The crew got to hang over the bows and almost touch a pod of common dolphins this afternoon.

Swimming off the side of the vessel in the Poor Knights we saw snapper, trevally and something deep and dark. The crew got jumpy when they confused plankton with jellyfish - they need some marine life education..."

Life on board
"Washing - a little more prosaic, but every day when we can we roll over the gunwale, jump off a pontoon, fling ourselves bodily off a wharf and roll around in the warm seawater. It's not as effective as a shower, but it works. A layer of salt and sunscreen prevents you from getting too smelly.

And there's nothing more satisfying than jumping over the side from a tall ship that is now idle and becalmed on a glassy ocean, and getting rid of the morning’s sweat from heaving lines and climbing around the rigging."

19 January 2015

BREEZE sets sail in the Bay of Islands Regatta

BREEZE and her hardworking crew spent the last weekend in the Bay of Islands running public sailings alongside fellow tall ship, R Tucker Thompson. A highlight of the weekend was taking passengers out for the historic tall ships Regatta in Russell. Skipper Stuart takes a moment to reflect on the crew’s experience so far:

“We have just spent three wonderful days, sailing in the Bay of Islands. Taking part in the Tall Ships Rally is always a great experience, but this year BREEZE had the pleasure of sailing in close company with fellow tall ships, Spirit of New Zealand and R Tucker Thompson. Opportunities like this are rare in New Zealand, so our thanks go to these vessels, their masters, and crews, for a truly memorable event.

To see others we know sailing on classic yachts such as Undine (and doing so well), was also a pleasure. And a special thanks to those who have previously sailed on BREEZE, such as ex master, Jim Cottier, who came down to visit us at our berth, and share their stories. Their interest and support means a great deal.

In the last two days we tried something new for Breeze, sailing in company with R Tucker Thompson, doing some early evening short sailings. Again these have been very enjoyable, and our guest feedback has been incredibly positive.

We would like to acknowledge the support of the R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust, without which, our sailings in the Bay would be next to impossible. Thank you!”

16 January 2015

Love the Sea - On board tall ship BREEZE

January 2015 kick starts the Museum’s new Love the Sea theme. For the next six months our public programmes and events will focus on all the things we love about the sea and how we can protect our oceans.

And what better way to showcase our love of the sea than with BREEZE’s current expedition in Northland? Crewed by a passionate team of Museum volunteers, BREEZE is spending January in the Bay of Islands and Whangarei. Usually based at the Museum, the crew have instead been taking the public sailing at some of the east coast's most beautiful spots.

A mix of experienced and novice sailors of all ages and backgrounds, the trip has been an amazing learning opportunity for the crew. Along the way they've spotted dolphins, experienced the night watch on board ship, jumped into the ocean to keep clean and even found time to bake a cake in the ship’s kitchen.

Meet the crew:

Junae Clarke - Deck Crew
When not busying herself in the entertainment section of Warehouse, Jurnae is in charge of knocking the coxswains of the TS Achilles into shape.

Junae says: “I've never sailed on BREEZE before, let alone on a long sail so it's all new. I felt at first that it might be too much to learn but I learnt pretty quickly. I found that this was the result of the great patience and understanding of the mate and skipper of the vessel. I'm now fairly competent on Breeze and I'm enjoying myself. I can't wait to see what else we get up to on her and the places we see.”

Finn Harris - Deck Crew
Having successfully escaped high school he didn't escape the BREEZE press gang, but managed to leave his PC and Battlefield 4 at home...

Liz Dodd - Deck Crew
Lives ensconced in the beauty of the Waitākere Ranges and on BREEZE has found a love of sailing and rice pudding.

Yolanda Duncan - Deck Crew
Painter, guitarist, lover of peace and tranquility; appreciates the undeserved blessing of the opportunity to sail on BREEZE.

Dan Brown - Tophand 
When not fending off assaults from his brothers, coming unofficially second in scout regatta rowing races likes to splice, whip and frap.

Dan says: “The trip has been great since great since I joined the boat in Whangarei after spending the previous eight days at the national sea scout regatta at Fort Takapuna. There is unfortunately a lack of wind as I write this with all ten sails flapping with the motion of the boat but the trip is still going well with us heading in somewhat the right direction.”

Mike Hannah - Tophand 
Midshipman in the NZ Navy, romantic idealist and Victorian throwback.

James Brock - Mate 
Spends most of his time in the bush on research projects for his PhD, burns easily in the sun, likes: gin.

James says: “This voyage is my first long transit as mate. There’s lots to think about, a crew to coordinate and making sure everyone's fed. The crew have been great so far - very keen to learn - and it's been interesting making sure that everyone is getting a fair deal on roles. Highlights so far have to be a run back to the Poor Knights and the attempt to bake a caramel pineapple cake! Been great sailing - so many days with ten sails up in blazing sunshine. Main fail so far is the sunburn!”

Stuart Birnie (Skipper)

The Museum's Sailing Manager, loves the opportunity to get out on the water and happens to be a skilled manager of effluent on board ship.

Find out more about the crew on board, see all the pictures from the trip, and get the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter. Follow #breezetallship to keep up with their progress.