Museum volunteer master Bob Hawkins tells us something of the early days of Breeze, from his own experience. Continued from part two.

By Bob Hawkins | 19 April 2022


The good ship Breeze, now free of her ‘shackles’ and able to operate legally carrying passengers, had given the museum the opportunity for the vessel to help earn her keep, within the scope of the vessel’s classification and operating limits. Our then vessel co-ordinator, Richard Pomeroy, was eager (as were we all) to get back into the annual Bay of Islands pilgrimage to take part in the Russell Tall Ships race and to show the ‘flag’.

Of course these longer excursions gave a great opportunity for volunteers to gain experience and sea time, although the vessel was not permitted to carry passengers outside the harbour limits. When on these longer coastal passages, Breeze overnighted in lovely anchorages such as Whangaruru, Tutukaka, Kawau Island and even Marsden Point.

Then, in 2002, Breeze was signed up for a movie contract as a ‘prop’ for the TVNZ reality series, Colonial House, shown in October 2003. This meant a long coastal passage to Lyttelton, so eventually a full crew of 14 volunteers was assigned to different sections of the passage sailing via Tauranga, Gisborne (and an unscheduled stop at Napier) and on across the notorious eastern entrance to Cook Strait and into Lyttelton.

The late Captain (the young) Ron Blackman was the ‘star’ of the show (see photos below) – after Breeze itself, of course - undertaking the filming in and around Lyttelton, before voyaging back to Auckland. The southern venture stretched resources and, while bringing in some hard-earned funds, it was also hard on the Breeze and the volunteer crew. Museum management restricted further ventures to north of East Cape and south of Cape Reinga as a result. Even so, there was still plenty to keep Breeze on the go, with annual voyages up to the Bay of Islands, Mahurangi regatta days and the Auckland Anniversary regattas.

Annual haul-outs were generally undertaken at the Vos/Sandford slipway at Westhaven, with volunteers assisting with rig and deck maintenance under the watchful eyes of Kevin Smith, the vessel manager. Towards the end of this period of the vessel’s history, in December 2010, Breeze made a nostalgic passage across to Coromandel and near to her birth place of Tiki Landing.

Continue to part four.

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