Nessie 2 on the grid at Smiths Boatyard in Whangarei before we left. The boatyard was owned and run by my Uncle Claude and his sons. Note on the stern the self steering wind vane. The rudder of this wind vane was also damaged so we had to steer the boat by hand (four hour watches, I remember them well!!).
L'Esperance Rock is the southernmost of the Kermadec chain of islands which include Macauley, Curtis and Raoul (Sunday) Island. Raoul Island at the time we visited had personnel who manned the meteorological weather station. Raul Island is an active volcano and a few years earlier the island was evacuated because of an eruption.
This is the first anchorage on Raoul Island. When I took this photograph we had moved around to the southern anchorage and come ashore again. We (Three adults) rowed ashore through this surf in an 8 foot dinghy (madness really) - if the surf had got up when we were ashore we wouldn't have been able to get back on board the boat.
Here is Nessie 2 anchored in the deep water anchorage on the southern side. This anchorage was sheltered in North winds - but if it had come to blow hard from the south we would have had to got on board quickly and cleared out.
A flying fox that was used by those on the island to get stores up from sea level. We had to clamber up a steep rocky track. Nessie 2 tugs quietly at her anchor.
Mail and newspapers were dropped from time to time by a New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft. I took this photo of a drop before we moved to the southern anchorage. Later when ashore we witnessed another drop (very exciting as the Orion flew very, very low) I was surprised to see that they dropped the mail in a long plastic canister without a parachute. There was great black humour for the drop we witnessed because amongst the mail and newspapers were some packets of condoms - the joke being there were no women on the island - the mind boggles.
The sign says "Radio ZME The Voice of the Kermadecs" which is reference to the Raoul Island contact SSB Radio rather than a radio station that plays music. The Nessie crew left to right - Claude Smith (my uncle), Colin Wright and myself.
The Raoul Island crew with Claude on the left, Colin on the right. They were a great bunch of guys, very friendly and hospitable. They were getting to the end of their year long stint and were waiting to be relieved by the next crew who would be bought to the island by a New Zealand Navy Frigate.
Raoul Island humour complete with its own parking meter - The sign says " Welcome To Raoul Is - The Village of SNAFU - Go Slow This Is A One Hearse Town." SNAFU is an old World War 2 acronym the troops used which translated means 'Situation Normal All Fucked Up' - a relevant metaphor for life then, as it is now from time to time on this mad planet we live on.
Moi mongst the Raoul Island orange grove. It is from this very orchard that Johnny Wray and his crew gathered their oranges. I had this photograph taken for my father who had 3 copies of Johnny Wrays 'South Sea Vagabonds' and often talked about Raoul Island and its oranges - so this one on my Blog is for you Dad : > )
As we left Raoul Island we sailed back past our old anchorage and the beach where we first landed. On the right of the photo are a couple of guys writing a farewell message on the beach. Unfortunately even when I climbed the rigging to get a better view I couldn't make out the message - probably 'Bon Voyage' or something similar.
Raoul Island disappears on the horizon. The red and white object lashed onto the stern railing is the wind vane rudder that broke in the storm. Claude later fixed this in Fiji and we used it on the way to the New Hebrides (As Vanuatu is now called), but it broke again in rough conditions when returning to New Zealand from New Caledonia - which meant we had to stand watches and steer the boat again - something I didn't really mind because I enjoyed wonderful seascapes and sea life during the day and stars and often phosphorescence at night (The phosphorescence from the tracks of dolphins at night diving around and under the yacht like rockets was something to behold).
Shipmates, here I am on board the Nessie 2 in Suva, Fiji. The words on my shirt read "Prospector". This shirt belonged to my dad and it was on the Yacht "Prospector" that he sailed in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. "Prospector" was built by my cousin (Crew mate Uncle Claudes son Alan) and bought by dads friend Ron Lloyd after I showed him a photograph of "Prospector" (which was for sale at the time) when I returned from my very first visit to Whangarei in 1965. So when you include my Grandfather Bertrand Sutton who built a Tahiti Ketch in Christchurch you can see that so far as sailing is concerned there have been huge influences - some would say I didn't stand a chance, LOL, but frankly I don't feel I would want it any other way.
... And Shipmates, on this voyage in 1970 we were thwarted from our goal of reaching Tahiti by damage received in a rather strong gale - Unfinished business I say Shipmates, unfinished business.