Day 16

A Day at the Races.

Chatham Islands Jockey Club, estb 1873, held the first of three one Derby Day meets yesterday 29th December 2013. Fortunately the JST Lord Nelson arrived earlier enough in the morning to allow a good many of the crew to ‘loose their shirts’ at the Races.

A warm sunny day with an on-shore wind greeted our arrival off Waitangi and with a delicately executed anchor-handbrake turn the ship was soon alongside and being greeted by many friendly islanders. Even here, surprisingly, there was a package waiting on the jetty for one of the ship’s company and some slightly late Christmas cards.

So with the ship secured from sea we were off to the races. It was pleasant walk to the race track taking in the views of the sweeping sandy bays, gentle rolling hills of green scrub or woods and copses and the sound of songbirds.

The track is a 1600m flat course and the racing consisted of trotting and conventional races. Crew members gripped the paddock rail to view the form, discussing the finer details of horse racing such “I like the colour of that jockey’s strip”, “that is nice looking horse” or “I like the name of that one” before rushing off to the betting tent. Winners were picked for the first few races and so confidence increased as did the size of the bets. Sadly the Islanders had the measure of us and our pockets were emptied of coin soon thereafter. It was great fun watching the horses gallop around the course and enjoying local hospitality in the friendly company of the Islanders.


The Trots

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Girls and their hats at the races: Vinney, Bridget, Margaret and Tracey
A tense time of betting? JR, Mike and Bridget

Lifts back to the ship or the local hotel were generously offered to all and many took up this opportunity of riding in a flat-bed pick-up cuddling up to the owner’s dog but I’m not too sure who was more worthy of being called a salty dog.

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Friendly locals giving us a lift ‘home’: Bridget, Sweeney, Neil, Chris, Meg, Emma, Stu and Tracey
Nellie in Chatham Islands

Although a night alongside with a BBQ had been planned the strengthening wind and accompanying surge soon made the jetty untenable. The Blue Peter was raised to summon all hands back on board and we stood off at anchor for the night, the deteriorating weather also forced the planned BBQ to relocate to the lower mess where the ensuing party lasted late into the night.


Blue Peter Flag to get us back on board

Today in driving rain and poor visibility we weighed anchor and motored out of the bay to start the long haul across the Southern Ocean. There were many thoughtful faces and a few silent prayers offered as we contemplated what we may face in the weeks ahead. With the sails set and a fresh northerly breeze driving us forward the engines were shut down and hopefully will not be needed again until we approach Ushuaia on the far side of Cape Horn and in another ocean.

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Dave and the Crayfish and the last land for weeks

For lunch today, a special treat, as a parting gift the Islanders had provided three huge Crayfish which Dave, ships cook prepared with great enthusiasm.

Forward Port.