The R Tucker Thompson is a tall ship that works out of Opua, where I live. During the summer season they take paying guests for day and evening sails and they use this money to help subsidise youth training trips the rest of the year.
I was lucky enough to have a voucher for a Day Sail for two adults and two children so last weekend my Mother in Law, myself and the two kids made sail!
What a fantastic day! The crew gets the guests really involved in the sailing of the ship. The kids hauled ropes, climbed rigging and sat out on the bowsprit like pros. To give you a bit of perspective, the top of the mast is 20 metres from the waterline.
The morning was spent sailing out through the Bay of Islands. They gave us yummy cream scones for morning tea and then we anchored in a little bay and spent some time on a beautiful beach.
I've taken the photo above from the dinghy, the person halfway up the rigging is my 8 year old daughter and my son is up on the yardarm - but you can't really see him. I had the other guests commenting how brave they were but the kids just thought it was fun!
The Bay of Islands at it's best. The beaches out in the bay are just gorgeous.
The Tucker is a traditional gaff-rigged schooner. She's so pretty when you see her sailing around and sitting at anchor.
There was swimming and swinging to be done before a wonderful barbeque lunch. The fresh air gives you a great appetite. And they have drinks available for purchase, so you can have a glass of wine if you wish.
I was intrigued by the 'boat bits' as I called them. Lots of weathered wood and copper and complicated knots, pulleys and bits and pieces.
My son is particularly keen to get back on board and go for one of the youth training week-long trips. He has to be at least two years older, and he can't wait! After he's done a trip like that, he can be a volunteer crew. Because the Tucker is run by a trust, they use volunteers when they can. One of our crew this trip was a 15 year old that the kids knew from their school. And he was confident and competent - great to see.
Oh yeah, did I mention we saw dolphins too?! So lucky! We had a good breeze that was great for sailing, we had nice weather which made it pleasant and everyone had a fabulous time. What a perfect day.
So, if you are ever up this way, check out the R Tucker Thompson and book yourself a day sail. I would thoroughly recommend it