Our waterfront attracts lots of foot traffic whenever the weather is almost reasonable.
Yesterday a combination of mild weather and school holidays caused a much more activity than usual. I joined them in the mid afternoon when, at this time of year, the shadows are lengthening. Wandering slowly about, I came across one of the fifteen literary citations imbedded in the waterfront as part of an artwork called “Wellington Writers’ Walk” created by Catherine Griffiths. This particular quotation is by well known Wellington writer, Bill Manhire.
Nearby, the old steam-powered floating crane Hikitea seems to be slowly shedding the scaffolding that has obscured its form for a long time now. The large wheel on the side of the cabin intrigued me, and the adjustable strap around its perimeter suggest it is a brake for either the main lifting winch or else the cables for the luffing mechanism of its massive jib. The chain that passes in front of it is connected to a huge sliding counterweight that is moved to balance the load on the main lifting hook.
Then, off Queen’s Wharf, I spotted one of our two new tugs, Tiaki, engaged in some interesting manoeuvres. After a while I decided that the man at the controls was either being taught, or perhaps being assessed on his control of the vessel. These German designed Asian built tugs are simply a platform for two large Caterpillar diesel engines connected to two Rolls Royce 255 azimuth thrusters. Think of a five bladed 3.8metre fan inside a large ring underneath the ship, and the ring can swivel through 360 degrees. With two of these, the vessel can exert a thrust of 69 Tonnes and move briskly in any direction. They are unglamorous tractors of the sea, but are very practical, powerful and very nimble.
The tug kept making rapid approaches to the wharf and nosing up to it as it would to the hull of a ship. I formed the impression that the man at the controls could hold an egg between the tug and the wharf without cracking it. It was a very impressive performance.
As I was moving away, he performed a very rapid sideways departure from the wharf and the turbulence in the water behind it sent a strong message about the power of these thrusters. Surprisingly, even at high throttle settings the big diesels emitted a muted hum rather than the expected rumble. For a maritime nut such as me, it was a joy to watch.
That is all for today.