Smith shows ship's crew gratitude

Last updated 12:00 12/04/2014
Nick Smith, right, hands some  beer to Phil Rowe, centre, commander of HMNZS Wellington and executive officer Grant Bicknell.

APPRECIATION: Nick Smith, right, hands some beer to Phil Rowe, centre, commander of HMNZS Wellington and executive officer Grant Bicknell.

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The HMNZS Wellington's visit to Nelson has provided Nelson MP Nick Smith with a chance to thank the crew for looking after him following a "particularly special" two-week voyage.

The offshore patrol vessel experienced such a violent storm in the Southern Ocean in February that it had to return to Stewart Island.

The Minister of Conservation was among those on board who succumbed to seasickness.

This morning when the ship docked at Port Nelson, Smith presented a selection of beers, including his own home brew, to the captain and crew.

"Home brewing is quite a passion of mine that I really enjoy."

He also provided the crew with some locally produced brews "so they did not feel insulted or short changed" because "some people do not rate [his] beer that highly".

His children warned him saying just because the boat made him sick, he should not return the favour.

He, along with Department of Conservation and MetService staff and 50-odd crew, was on the ship's annual trip to the Bounty, Antipodes, Campbell, Auckland and Snares islands when the storm hit.

After two days of high winds reaching up to 160kmh, the group only managed to reach Campbell and Auckland Island.

"It turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than what we counted on," he said.

"Put it this way, we were on the eighth level and waves were crashing on top.

"I have never seen seas like that in my life and I do not ever want to see them again."

He spent some days "feeding the fish", he said.

He lost 5kg of weight.

There were other experienced sailors who were as green as him, he said.

"I have never seen so many seasick people in my whole life."

The trip was not all bad, Smith successfully saw the benefits of the pest eradication programme and he plans to roll out the programme so that the Sub Antarctic Islands can be pest free.

He also saw the challenges of the New Zealand sea lion.

The crew are spending the weekend in Nelson on a rest and recreation break and the ship is scheduled to depart at 10am on Tuesday.

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- The Nelson Mail

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