Spirit of adventure snapped

WATERBOYS: Nine-year-old Jack Munro of Nelson, left, and Tate Wayman, 11, on their raft near Mapua.
WATERBOYS: Nine-year-old Jack Munro of Nelson, left, and Tate Wayman, 11, on their raft near Mapua.

Two young boys spent their school holidays in Mapua on a memorable series of rafting adventures that resulted in them sailing on to the country's television screens at prime time.

Nine-year-old Jack Munro of Wakatu Nelson and Tate Wayman of Mapua, 11, built their own sea-going raft using old discarded freezer panels.

The boys made several excursions from near Grossi Point in Mapua out into the Waimea Estuary's main western channel and managed to take their craft across to Bullivant Island, near Rabbit Island, on the eastern side.

Jack and Tate were spotted on their adventures by Mapua ferry co-skipper Paul Nankivell, who saw them as he rowed back to shore after tying up the Flat Bottom Fairy. It was late evening with a golden glow in the air when Paul took his photo.

He forwarded the image to TV One for possible use.

To everyone's surprise, it was given pride of place on the daily weather slot at the end of the 6pm news, complete with some favourable comments from announcers about the Mapua scenery and also about the boys' admirable sense of adventure.

According to Jack's dad, Andrew Munro, Tate was the driving force behind the raft, and Jack's 10-year-old brother Benjamin helped the pair build it.

The boys had a few cross-pieces to hold the panels together, banged in a few nails and then tied it all together with some rope.

The insulation material sandwiched in the steel freezer panels provided the raft with enough buoyancy for the pair to be able to stand upright on its deck.

Jack's mother Lynne said she was never worried about the boys' safety.

All three boys were familiar with the strong tides in the part of the Waimea Estuary near Mapua where they sailed.

The parents were also on a beach nearby or else in the house where they were staying, with a good view of the estuary.

The boys wore life-jackets as a safety precaution and also timed their sailing trips to avoid the swiftest tides.

The raft went through several modifications as the boys became more experienced.

A fitted double bed sheet was commandeered as the sail.

The mast was later placed in a former umbrella stand secured to the deck.

As a result, the boys were able to rotate the mast, and so catch the most favourable wind.

A tiller was also added later to improve manoeuvrability.