Earnslaw in good shape for big birthday

BROOKE GARDINER
Last updated 05:00 15/10/2012

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Skippering the TSS Earnslaw is no easy task, but senior launchmaster Graham Moore-Carter has a pretty good handle on the foibles of the old "Lady of the Lake" after more than 30 years on the job.

"She's not the easiest boat in the world to handle. She's like a typical old lady, at times she shows her idiosyncrasies. She doesn't turn too well but she's got good stopping ability," he said.

But having a good handle on the old steamboat, which turns 100 this month, isn't enough alone and Mr Moore-Carter credits the skills of the team of staff with ensuring the day-to-day operation runs smoothly.

"Running the Earnslaw is all about teamwork . . . as the skipper, I am reliant on my other team-mates to do their job."

And everyone on board has an important job to do, from the cafe staff, who also man the ropes at times, to the stokers, Mr Moore-Carter said.

Past and present skippers, stokers, engineers, pianists and caterers met on the Earnslaw last night at the beginning of the heritage steamer's week-long centenary celebrations.

Built at Kingston and launched on February 24, 1912, the Earnslaw made its first passenger excursion on October 18, 1912, which is regarded as its official birthday.

Real Journeys has operated the steamship since 1969 and is marking its century of service with a re-enactment of the maiden voyage, a staff reunion and special cruises.

During the celebrations, the Earnslaw will make trips to Kingston and Glenorchy, and residents would no doubt be pleased to see it making its way up and down Frankton Arm once again, Mr Moore-Carter said.

But it was the relationships built during his 32 years at the helm of the ship that he was most looking forward to reminiscing over when he caught up with old friends during this week's celebrations. "Some I haven't seen in about 30 years."

Having been taught the ins and outs of the boat by his predecessor, Maru Bradshaw, Mr Moore-Carter laughed as he recalled his early days.

"Maru always had a rule that every time you scratched a bit of paint you had to take him up to the pub and buy him a jug of beer but when he scratched her, he would be nowhere to be seen."

Recalling a few hairy moments, he said he had complete faith in his team and felt he could rely on them in any given situation.

Sitting up on the bridge looking out over Lake Wakatipu towards Walter Peak, Mr Moore-Carter reckons he has the best view in the house from his "second home" and he's in no hurry to give it up.

"Sixty-five is coming round quicker than I'd like to think, but I will see this out to retirement."

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But he believes the "grand old Lady of the Lake" will be around a lot longer than that.

"She'll see out another 100 years, too right she will."

- The Southland Times

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