Har­bour­mas­ter at home on the sea

Ever won­dered what you can and can’t do on the wa­ter? Re­porter Rose Cawley sat down for a chat with the Auck­land har­bour­mas­ter who over­sees the wa­ters from Man­gawhai and the en­trance to the Kaipara Har­bour in the north all the way down to Miranda and Kari

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The prospect of be­com­ing Auck­land’s har­bour­mas­ter was enough to bring Andrew Hay­ton ashore af­ter spend­ing most of his life at sea.

The English­man first tested his sea legs at 16 when he joined the Bri­tish Mer­chant Navy.

‘‘It is just in my blood I guess, I’ve been do­ing it ever since I left school so it has be­come my way of life.’’

The 42-year-old says his first stint in Auck­land was as a ma­rine ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor for Mar­itime New Zealand.

But af­ter three years here he still needed to check some­thing off his bucket list.

‘‘I’d still not been a cap­tain of a ship at that stage and it was some­thing I needed to do so I went back to sea.’’

As a cruise ship cap­tain he spent years chas­ing the sun.

‘‘We pre­dom­i­nantly spent sum­mer in the Mediter­ranean and win­ter in the Car­ribean.’’

Hay­ton says the high­light was cap­tain­ing the big­gest ship of his ca­reer.

‘‘It was a five-masted sail- ing ship that was 190 me­tres long called the Wind­surf – she car­ried 320 pas­sen­gers and 200 crew.’’

But the sta­bil­ity of a nine to five job called and he gave up the sun and headed back to Auck­land for a job at what he now calls his home port.

He says the sea isn’t a free-for-all – by­laws gov­ern what you can and can’t do and the har­bour­mas­ter’s of­fice en­forces them.

They cover ev­ery­thing from wear­ing a life­jacket to speed lim­its and the age you have to be to get be­hind the wheel of cer­tain ves­sels.

Hay­ton says aside from the by­laws the key as­pects of his job are ad­min­is­ter­ing moor­ings, oil spill re­sponse and nav­i­ga­tional safety.

He says af­ter the Rena in­ci­dent sys­tems were put in place to pre­vent spills around Auck­land.

‘‘We put vir­tual bea­cons on off-shore haz­ards. There are about a dozen reefs and rocks that you can’t phys­i­cally put a buoy or beacon on but are po­ten­tially a dan­ger to ship­ping. Now there is noth­ing there phys­i­cally but the com­puter sys­tems on ships think there is and it will pro­vide a warn­ing if they get too close.’’

He says a big storm has a whole dif­fer­ent mean­ing for him these days.

‘‘Bad weather al­ways brings a range of things – ves­sels break­ing off moor­ings and drag­ging an­chor. In that last big storm we had 25 boats that ended up aground so that sort of thing keeps you in­ter­ested for the day.’’

Photo: ROSE CAWLEY

Land ahoy: Auck­land habour­mas­ter Andrew Hay­ton says the sea is in his blood.

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