Monday, October 8, 2012

A grand old Lady...

For many years now I have seen Tug Lyttelton in the harbour, often belching grey/black, acrid smoke as it fired up for a harbour cruise. Recently, when I read that the Lyttelton was doing a trip on the harbour as part of Icefest (celebrating New Zealand's Antarctic connection). I thought right, seize the moment Jane. So I reserved places for myself and Claire and yesterday we met in Lyttelton on a glorious, sunny afternoon, along with 120-odd other locals, including lots of children.

Tug Lyttelton dockside and firing up

Here is a little bit about the tug from her website

The tug Lyttelton and her engines were built in Scotland in 1907 by Ferguson brothers Ltd. of Port Glasgow, and was sailed out to Lyttelton through the Suez canal which had been open for almost forty years.  The machinery has been very little altered throughout the ship's long period of service with the Lyttelton Harbour Board and gives the visitor a glimpse back in time to the heyday of British steam engineering.  On a visit to the engine room and stokehold you can very easily imagine the ship steaming out across the Indian ocean in 1907 lit only by oil lamps, with every spare space loaded with coal for the long voyage.

I can say, wholeheartedly, that she is, indeed, a great lady. The interior detailing of the Lyttelton is just stunning, all lovely wood and gleaming brass...

The wheelhouse
Brass steps below

What's more, all the hard work of maintenance and operation is done by dedicated volunteers, most of them by no means young! Claire and I talked to several of the men, who clearly take huge pride in the tug. I was particularly taken by a Scottish gent with a somewhat rakish air - a real charmer!

The easterly blasted up the harbour and it was bitterly cold but utterly exhilarating.

Me, exhilarated!
Others were out enjoying the excellent sailing weather...

And, at the end of the trip, cold but happy...


  1. It was a lovely day. Oxford had a Spring fair. Matty was in the kapahaka. hehe lilly-white lot they were too! I love the last photo. You look gorgeous! :)

  2. Lilly-white they may be (!) but good on them :-))

    Gorgeous no, happy, yes!

  3. Was the Scottish mans name Leonardo Kate ?? :)

  4. Is that a for-real name PG?? I didn't get his name. He was different from the other volunteers. More worldly?

  5. I am calling you Kate and the Scottish man Leonardo ;o))<

  6. Arghh ,, not at all land lubber !