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Auckland Auckland

4th December 2011

A Day at the New Zealand National Maritime Museum and a Chat with a Model Maker

A Confusion of Outriggers
More Outriggers
    I had intended to catch a ferry to Devonport today and hike around the historic ruins. However, torrential rain soon put paid to the idea. My standby plan for such occasions was Voyager: the New Zealand National Maritime Museum.
    I made my way down to its waterfront location, cursing each and every road junction I came to, where I had to stand for an eternity in the cascades of water, waiting for the narrow time slots allocated to pedestrian crossing. It seemed as if the entire Tasman Sea was being deposited here.
NZL32 - America's Cup Winner in 1995
America's Cup Replica
    Lodged squarely on Hobson Wharf, by Viaduct Harbour, lay the New Zealand National Maritime Museum. It was logically laid out, and chronologically traced the seafaring history of the country starting with the Polynesian migration voyages, with replicas of South Pacific outriggers and double-hulled canoe. I was particularly interested in discovering how outrigger canoes sailed into the wind. Monohulls, i.e. boats with keels that we normally see in the west, pivot about the keel as they tack into the wind. Usually outrigger canoes sail with the outrigger on the windward side, this effectively being the pivotal point. The weight of the outrigger and the crew on the outrigger frame stop the wind overturning the canoe. When tacking into the wind, the canoe is "shunted" at the end of each tack. The sail is moved to the opposite end of the canoe and the canoe then sails "backwards". The outrigger remains on the windward side. The canoes are designed to have two "bows" and travel equally well in either direction.
    The time voyage then worked its way through the European maritime aspects relevant to the country: the trading and whaling ships, and also included a replica of the steerage-class cabin of a 19th century immigrant ship, complete with motion and sound effects. To bring it up to date, galleries covered New Zealand's yachting history and its involvement in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, the America's Cup and the Louis Vuitton Cup.
    NZL32, the racing yacht that Peter Blake and his crew won the 1994 America's Cup in, was also housed in the museum. A replica of a classic 1950s holiday bach added a touch of nostalgia to the museum. A more recent showcase, Blue Water Black Magic, provided a tribute to Sir Peter Blake, New Zealand's most celebrated sailor, who was murdered in 2001 while on an environmental monitoring trip on the Amazon.
    At the end of the sequence of rooms, I came across the ship model maker's room, and fortunately today he was open. I entered his small workshop, cosy and decked out with watchmaker's lathes and small bandsaws, and had a chat with him. He had originally been a fan of model plane making, but they were difficult to store on shelves. He now focussed on model ships, and he had a fair share on display in different stages of construction; some in bottles and jars too. It turned out that he had once lived with his ex-wife in Chelmsford, and he was rather fond of Maldon. That naturally moved the conversation onto sailing; Tollesbury, where I have sailed many times from, is near Maldon. He was keen to find out what I was up to over here, so I went through my itinerary. We stared out at the rain together. "Do you get much of this during December?" I asked. "It is always like this in December; some dry days, some wet days," he replied. He went on to add, "February and March are our best months." "But all the books told me that the best months are December, January and February," was my startled response. He shrugged his shoulders and gave me a wry smile.
    We shook hand, and four hours after I had entered the museum, I took my leave and made my way through the downpour back to the hotel.

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Auckland Auckland

Uploaded from Quadrant Hotel, Auckland on 4th December at 22:38

Last updated 7.12.2011