Diary 2

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Field Trip Name: 
Spirit of Adventure
Field Trip Place: 
Hauraki Gulf
Cloudy with strong winds

Kia ora koutou,

No matter what outdoor adventure you are on, the weather always dictates what your able to achieve. Cyclone Gita has been a popular topic of conversation over the last few days and the crew have been closely following the latest weather forecasts. Even though this cyclone will weaken once it passes over our colder seas it is still going to bring some severe weather. You anchored close to Waiheke Island overnight to shelter from the predicted strong winds and big swell. 

The calm before the storm

It was a relief to wake to calm seas and only a light breeze. Everyone enjoyed the refreshing morning swim and were keen to make the most of the dry weather while it lasted. You were able to speak to Papakōwhai School and Cosgrove School during our web conference and Gerard Prendeville the Master talked about life on the Spirit of New Zealand. You can find out more by listening to a recording of this web conference. Yesterday you had time to settle in to life at sea, but today it was time to take a more active role. Students took turns to set sails, make tacks and steer the ship. As the wind increased everyone had to work together to keep the ship on track. The rain held off as news of ex-cyclone Gita filtered through on the radio. It was hard to believe that we were out sailing on a tall ship while other parts of the country were being battered by gale force winds and heavy rain. Watch the video to find out how the weather has affected this trip.

Sailing to the conditions

Ninja Helmling the 1st Mate showed you where we will head tonight to shelter when the wind is forecast to change direction. Wind is something that sailors must always be aware of. Both wind direction and wind speed affect the way you can sail. The Spirit of New Zealand can handle winds of around 50 knots which is nearly 100 kilometres per hour. Usually it is the people on board that can’t handle the wind rather than the boat. Strong winds create big waves, and this can make you feel quite seasick. A few students started to feel a little queasy as the wind increased. Keeping your eyes on the horizon helps and eating ginger nuts can help settle your stomach.

Safety first

Safety is key to any adventure. You spoke to Tessa Campbell about some of the ship's safety features. Tessa is a cadet on the Spirit of New Zealand and has been hooked on sailing ever since she first stepped on to the Spirit as a trainee. Tessa showed you where everyone musters in an emergency. If the ship alarm goes everyone must gather on the Aft deck. Here at the back of the boat are life jackets, buoys and life rafts. The life jackets may not have been what you expected, as they do not inflate until you hit the water. There are more than enough life rafts and emergency supplies on board and it was reassuring to know that technology such as emergency locator beacons, satellite phones and radios are also available. You can find out more about safety on the ship by watching the video.

Team work

In the afternoon the wind strengthened so everyone helped strike the sails and set anchor. People had to work as a team and help each other to get the job done. Rain began to fall so it was the perfect time to head below deck to learn some new sailing terms, knots and play some team building games. One of the benefits of outdoor activities like this is that it brings people together. You can see people at their best and worst, which means you quickly get to know people. It has been so much fun meeting new people and making new friends.

Hopefully by the morning the worst of the weather will have passed, and we can head ashore to explore.

See you then,

Shelley the LEARNZ teacher.


Time to take the plunge during the 6.30am swim. Image: LEARNZ.

Gerard and Shelley speak to Papakōwhai School and Cosgrove School during today's web conference. Image: LEARNZ.

Ninja, Shelley and the ambassadors discuss the latest weather forecast and how the weather will affect the voyage. Image: LEARNZ.

Students work together to set sails on the Spirit of New Zealand. Image: LEARNZ.

As the wind increased the sailing got better and better. Image: LEARNZ.

Shelley talks to Tessa about the safety features onboard the Spirit of New Zealand. Image: LEARNZ.

Sails were struck so we could seek shelter from the increasing wind. Image: LEARNZ.

A rainbow signaled the end of the worst weather as ex-cyclone Gita tracks south east. Image: LEARNZ