Aft Port Watch reporting from the South Pacific, 39 degrees south 32’, 177 degrees east 04’, GMT -13 hours
Where do we begin….. well the past 48 hours have been truly memorable, starting with the wind picking up on the 30th, which enable us to turn off the engines & set sail.
The watch benefited from their first night off & gathered in the bar at 20:00 hours for a few brews, (army term for consuming alcohol), although Lesley, our Bosun, interrupted the social gathering a few hours later asking for volunteers to help brace the yards, after which the fore t’gallant & topsails were set, then the bar beckoned once more.
After a good night’s sleep & our batteries recharged we were on watch again at 08:00 hours. Both Billy & Justin responded well to Captain Chris’s helm orders as we arrived in Napier for noon. No sooner had we eaten lunch we were off to explore the beautiful art décor town, which had been re-built following a massive earthquake in 1931; some headed to the Aquarium of New Zealand while those feeling the need to burn off a few calories power walked in to town, (Laszlo, 75 years young, actually beat the taxis!).
Needless to say a few bars, bistros & restaurants benefited from Nellie being in port & for Anna this gave her the opportunity to catch up with Sophie, an old work colleague from Liverpool, who now lives & works in this sleepy hollow. Reality hit home when we had to return to the ship for harbour watch at 22:00 hours but our ever willing Brett, Justin & Anna had, without much pressure, offered to ‘stag on’, (yes, another army saying!). Thankfully the two hours passed quickly as the team were happy to ‘spin a dit’ or two especially having seen the rare & elusive kiwi earlier in the day!
We awoke this morning to a cloudless sky, although the wind wasn’t playing ball as we gathered on the quayside for our voyage photo – what was the point of doing our hair?! Once everyone had “made love to the camera”,(an all too predictable Marco phrase), we gathered by the fore & main masts to watch in awe as Jo, Christiane, Ann & Christine successfully completed their assisted climbs – Awesome!
Despite all the joyful news from STW21 we are sad to have to report that P.T. (part-time) Richard Jones, our very own ITV journalist, has left our watch & Nellie for that matter; this was a scheduled departure. Richard, if you’re out there, we miss you, despite you endlessly going on about the comfort of your hotel accommodation in Opua, Auckland & now Napier Despite jumping ship Richard was on the dock to film Justin, from 2 Rifles, a double above the knee amputee, climb right to the top of the foremast, under the careful eye of our watchleader Alli, AKA Mum. Having hoisted the regimental flag Kyle & Anna played their part by reclaiming it. Justin, Kyle & Anna are all sailing with us thanks to the generosity of the Care For Casualties charity, who support injured army personnel & their families.
So many highlight’s & then came the dolphins & the shark!
You can’t explain an experience, you have to live it!
With love & best wishes to everyone reading this blog, including absent friends, from Alli, Anna, Kyle, Justin, Brett, Billy, Laszlo & Marcin, the officer on watch.