An old hand back on deck
When George Booth stepped on to the world’s oldest passenger liner it was something of a homecoming and a last hoorah for him.
Mr Booth spent more than a decade on the MV Doulos with his family and served as its captain for part of that period.
The Doulos, which arrived in Auckland earlier this month on its final visit to the city of sails, is one of three ships run by evangelical Christian group Operation Mobilisation.
Mr Booth spent 10 years as a professional seaman before joining Operation Mobilisation.
He and his wife Carolyn became Christians in 1976 and in 1978 they decided they would spend a year doing voluntary work for the group.
But the couple ended up spending more than 10 years on the Doulos, raising three children on the ship in the process.
Mr Booth still works with the group as its New Zealand national director.
“We loved it from the word go,” he says.
“Often people say, ‘wow, you must have given up so much to be there, to live in a confined space on this ship, I mean for years’.
“Whatever we gave was nothing compared to what we received, just the camaraderie, the knowledge and learning, the education we got from going to these places and meeting these people.”
Mr Booth last visited the Doulos nine years ago and says while the ship will be decommissioned in 2010, he won’t be sad to see it go.
“In some ways this is something that I put so much of my own heart and soul into but she’s just a collection of steel and iron and rivets.
“For me that ship means the people and what we do and we can replace that iron and steel with new iron and steel and still have what we have.”
Welcome return: George Booth and his wife Carolyn spent more than 10 years on the Doulos as volunteers for Operation Mobilisation.