A Walk to the Wreck

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 6 Mar 2021 05:07

Position: At anchor Port Hutt, Chatham Island
Wind: N, F5 Sea: calm Swell: nil
Weather: cloudy, mild

Kate rang me again at 1430 yesterday to let me know that the tsunami warning had been cancelled with just a warning about surges and currents remaining extant, which was just as well as I still haven’t heard an official cancellation on the VHF radio. It would seem that reception inside Port Hutt is very poor. We were back at anchor at 1700, a bit too late for a shore excursion so I settled in to have another relaxing evening on board.

This morning I got a few boat chores done, the most important of which was repairing a broken lazy jack line on the starboard side. The lazy jacks are a web of lines that go from the boom on either side of the mainsail to about two thirds the way up the mast and help gather up the mainsail on top of the boom when it is lowered. They are not a critical piece of equipment but do make managing the mainsail a lot easier when either putting in a reef or dropping sail.

With the lazy jack repaired and lunch done, I turned my attention to getting the dinghy in the water and going for a bit of a hike. I gave myself the goal of walking to the end of Napper Point, the eastern headland of Port Hutt, to look over the wreck of the trawler stranded high and dry on its rocks. I rowed ashore onto the beach at the head of the bay and made my way along the shoreline so as not to disturb the cows that were grazing on the hilly slopes. After such a long period on board I was grateful that the going was easy, with the shore's gentle hilly slopes covered in grass that could have been freshly mowed and heath-like vegetation complete with yellow flowering gorse bushes. And the going through the heath was made even simpler by numerous well-rutted cow tracks. I estimate that it was about two kilometres each way which, given I haven’t done a lot of walking lately, was a good distance for the afternoon.

Along the way I stopped at the wreck which I previously described as a cabin cruiser but when I was able to get a closer look it was clearly the remains of a ply and fibreglass fishing boat. Out at the headland the wreck of the steel trawler was in two parts, one part was the bow wedged upside down into the rocks and the other the remnants of the wheelhouse with, surprisingly, a radar dome still intact on a tripod mast on its roof. I say surprising because the wreck must have been savaged by some fierce storms over the years to have been ripped apart to such a degree with only these two relatively small sections remaining, now almost completely rusted out. I suspect in another ten years there will be little to see here apart from some rust stained rocks; though I did note that a small section of the rear of the wheelhouse facing away from the ocean still had some paint on it and it looked like the steel under it was in excellent condition, a good incentive to keep the paintwork on old Sylph up to scratch. Despite the vessel’s poor condition it is still identifiable as the 'Jay Maree', number AK2096, as the name and numbers are welded to the bow remnant.

As well as taking a few photos I had also brought some pens a small sketchbook with me. I am not much of an artist but I enjoyed sitting on a rock studying the remains of the vessel and trying to capture the feel of the place on a bit of paper. Quite therapeutic.

Now I am back on board refreshed after my leg stretch. Tomorrow the wind is forecast to back into the west so I am hoping that conditions will be suitable to make for Waitangi Bay. A cruising guide I have warns that the bay is dangerous in westerly gales presumably because a strong swell and surge would wrap around the headland in such conditions. A strong south-westerly is forecast for Monday, but no westerly gales, so I am hoping conditions will be reasonably comfortable there for a couple of days so I can get a few fresh supplies in and perhaps enjoy a bit of a gam with some of the locals at the local tomorrow evening.

Time for dinner.

All is well.