New mail boat in the post for Marlborough Sounds
For a century it has provided a vital link to families cloistered in secluded bays, the comforting chug of its engine a binding link to the mainland.
The mail boat is as much a part of life in the Pelorus Sound as the white-capped waves and golden-pebbled beaches.
A new locally-made boat is set to take its place in history to mark the centenary of the service and a new era in the Marlborough Sounds.
Havelock author Lorain Day has also completed her new book Time and Tide, celebrating 100 years of the Pelorus Mail Boat in time for the milestone anniversary.
Lorain says she is delighted at the thought a new boat will be on the waters by the time her book is launched.
"By the time Time and Tide is published, there'll be a new Pelorus Express; still taking mail and people from the marina in Havelock, as the current owners have taken the plunge and decided to build a newer, bigger mail boat, capable of travelling faster and carrying more people.
"It's a sign of the ebb and flow of time and tide that have always characterised the Sounds, and it makes my heart sing a little to know that something which began 100 years ago, in a little homemade boat, is still going on," Lorain says.
Mail was first delivered to the Marlborough Sounds by government steamer in 1869. As demand grew, mail and parcels were delivered to smaller post offices on shore and residents had to row to pick their mail up. But then the mail boat came along.
Jim Baillie is the ninth owner and skipper of the mail boat since it began in 1918. He and wife Amanda Baillie have been running the service since November 2011.
He says early days of the service saw him carry farming supplies and a few tourists.
The official naming of the new boat and the launch of Time and Tide will be held at the Slip Inn, at Havelock Marina, on October 7 at 2pm.
Books will be available to buy and Lorain will be there to sign copies.
- The Marlborough Express