I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
The Tall-ship R TUCKER THOMPSON
There aren't too many opportunities to go sailing on a working tall-ship but if you're lucky enough to find yourself in New Zealand's fabulous Bay of Islands a day of sailing on the R TUCKER THOMPSON is an adventure you really don't want to miss.
R TUCKER THOMPSON looks for all the world like a beautifully restored sailing ship but get to know her better and you'll find a modern, well equipped replica. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Named after its owner/builder Robert Tucker Thompson, the vessel was conceived in the late 1970's as a project intended to produce a traditional sailing ship constructed using modern materials and techniques. But Thompson died before his dream could be realised and the task of building the Gaff-rigged top-sail schooner fell to his son Tod.
New Zealand's Bay of Island's is one of the world's truly great cruising grounds. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Built at Mangawhai she was launched in 1985 and today is managed by the not-for-profit R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust running 7- day youth development voyages for young people aged between 13 and 18.
All income derived from her tourist sailing season goes towards maintaining the ship and subsidising access to the sail training voyages for local young people.
Passengers are encouraged to work alongside crew members. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
To the naked eye the R TUCKER THOMPSON appears to be a beautifully restored 19th Century sailing ship but, beneath the tall spars, the rigging and brass-work she is a modern steel-hulled replica complete with watertight compartments, computer generated stability control and state-of-the-art communications & navigation equipment.
Day sailings through the Bay of Islands will operate 7- days a week between 1st November 2016 and 16th April 2017 departing Russell Wharf at 10 AM and returning at 3.30 PM.
You can climb the rigging ........
....... or enjoy an invigorating ride on the bowsprit. Photos: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Cost is $NZ149 for adults and $NZ74.50 for Children. Kids under 5 travel free but without meals provided. The ticket price includes morning tea, BBQ lunch and ferry transfers too and from Paihia.
Gift Vouchers, perfect for family or friends, are available for Day Sails. Valid for 12 months they can be purchased on-line and either posted or emailed to yourself or direct to the lucky recipient.
If you don't have the time to enjoy a full day sail the R TUCKER THOMPSON runs short late afternoon trips departing Russell at 4 PM and cruising the inner Bay around Paihia and Waitangi. These trips are run daily in late December and early January and on Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays for the remainder of the season.
Cost is $NZ65 for Adults and $NZ32.50 for children. Ticket price includes light on-board refreshments and ferry transfers.
Everyone gets the opportunity to take the helm. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
For the technically minded among you the R TUCKER THOMPSON is 26 Metres (85 feet) long, has a Beam or width of 4.9 metres (16 feet) a Draft of 2.6 metres (8 feet 6 inches), displaces 60 tonnes and carries 179 square metres or 3000 square feet of sail. Her day charter capacity is 47 passengers.
The R TUCKER THOMPSON departs from Russell Wharf, just a short ferry ride from Paihia. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank