Home­com­ing for Sir Peter Blake’s boat

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - HAN­NAH MARTIN

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.

BE­VAN READ/FAIR­FAX NZ

Tara will be berthed near the Viaduct Events Cen­tre from July 1-9, and is open to the pub­lic.

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