Late in 2012 I received a letter from the Sea Cadet Association of New Zealand that congratulated me on being the recipient of the 2013 Missions to Seafarers 10 Day Youth Development Voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand.
Ten months later on the 13th of August I boarded my flight to Wellington to join Voyage 651. On arrival we were told that everyone was going be staying ashore rather than onboard, as the Spirit had hit bad weather on the voyage down from Napier. The next day we boarded and everyone was keen to get sailing. However a spring in the fuel injector system was broken! Meaning we had to spend Day One alongside the wharf in Wellington.
At 1500 on Day Two we finally cast our lines and motored out to Somes Island where we spent the night. On Day Three it was the usual 0630 wake up, and it was the first morning swim of the voyage. The 10°C water was refreshing and certainly woke everyone up! After breakfast it was time to go to cleaning stations. My team (Port B) was on amidships sail station. We were responsible for cleaning the deck, windows and brass. As soon as everyone had finished their cleaning stations the call was given to “hoist the sails”. Amidships was responsible for the square sails, so a few of us harnessed up and went up the mast to un-lash the sails we were going to use. Working on the yards was a great experience as you are high up standing on a wobbly wire, while trying to accomplish your task. After the anchor was lifted we set our sails by heaving and easing on various lines.
It was then time to leave the security of Wellington Harbor and head out into the mighty Cook Strait, all while enjoying a delicious muffin on deck. These were made by our wonderful cook Sue. On this sunny day, the Cook Strait was well behaved for us and we only encountered a 20 knot breeze with a 1 metre swell. Once the ship neared the South Island I was given the amazing opportunity to steer the ship through Tori Passage and into the Queen Charlotte Sounds. Shortly afterwards the ship started shaking for a short time. The ships engineer Patrick, raced up to the wheelhouse as he thought our Captain Laurie had hit something. At the same time Laurie thought something had gone terribly wrong in the engine room and sent the 1st Mate down to investigate. We had just experienced a 6.7 magnitude earthquake at sea!
Two days later we paddled ashore on the Spirit's inflatable rafts, and landed on a rocky beach in Endeavor Inlet. It was time to go for a hike on the Queen Charlotte track. After walking 23 km and sharing lots of stories we arrived at Resolution Bay and were all very happy to see the Spirit of New Zealand waiting for us. That night we had dinner ashore at Ships Cove, where the Captain Cook monument stands. After dinner in close to pitch black conditions we went for a very interesting walk on a hiking trail, to see the glow worms that had established themselves near a waterfall.
The next few days flew by and suddenly it was time to have the elections, to decide who was going to be the Captain of the Ship for trainee day. Trainee day happens on day nine. It is when the trainees take control of ship for the day and run it the way they want to. I was privileged to be voted Captain of the Spirit of New Zealand for the day by my peers! Trainee day made me realize how hard it is to run a Tall Ship and really helped me to improve my time management skills.
The next day I left The Spirit of New Zealand for the last time with my peers of voyage 651. I had an amazing 10 days onboard and recommend this experience to anyone who wants to learn new skills or is looking for an adventure.
By Jack Taylor