Homecoming for Sir Peter Blake’s boat
For the first time since Sir Peter Blake’s death, his yacht – the Tara – has come home.
Sir Peter set out on the 36m icebreaker, then known as Seamaster, on a five-year expedition exploring the world’s waterways in 2000.
The odyssey was cut short when, just a year in, he was shot dead while protecting his crew from pirates in the Amazon. He was 53 years old.
Tara made its way back into Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour on Saturday afternoon, halfway through a two-year voyage studying coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. It was met by a welcome flotilla, including Sir Peter’s round-the-world boat Steinlager 2 and Spirit of New Zealand.
Rough winds and choppy seas meant the waka Aotearoa One was not able to meet Tara.
Crowds applauded as the twomasted schooner berthed alongside the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, where for the next nine days, school groups and the public can walk on board.
Tara will be in New Zealand for two months for a refit in Whangarei, before continuing through to Australia.
Shelley Campbell, chief executive for the Sir Peter Blake Trust, said that while it had been a ‘‘long time coming,’’ it was a day tinged with sadness.
‘‘Peter was so in love with Tara.’’
The trust has watched Tara continue Sir Peter’s legacy, she said, researching the health of the planet through its oceans – ’’work that Peter started’’.
Since the boat became Tara, 13 years ago, it has sailed more than 300,000 kilometres across the world on 11 research expeditions, with the objective to understand the impacts of climate and ecological changes.
For Alistair Moore, now programme manager for the New Zealand Sailing Trust and skipper for Steinlager 2, it was a ‘‘day of emotions’’.
Moore joined the Seamaster crew at 21 years old and had ‘‘proper adventures’’ working alongside Sir Peter, to whom he said he would be forever indebted.
‘‘There’s a lot of sadness today, and ‘what ifs’ – what would we be doing if Peter was here? – but also a lot of pride.’’
The fact that Tara hadn’t been scrapped or turned into a superyacht, but used for the purpose Sir Peter intended, meant a lot to Moore. Sir Peter continued to oversee the operations of Tara’s crew from a framed photo in the lower deck.
Tara will be berthed near the Viaduct Events Centre from July 1-9, and is open to the public.