Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Transition - Sextant to HiFix6 and Lead line to Echosounders

In other words I joined the Navy in 1975 as a Seaman Gunner, served on Canterbury and changed to Survey in July 1976.  It's also poignant to say that the Navies Survey Ship (from 1949) HMNZS Lachlan decommissioned also in 1975.  The old girl was a hangover from Cook's times, bar checks flags, beacons all mostly handraulic and mostly in good to moderate seas.  Sun lovers were everywhere on that ship.  But Lachlan phased out leaving three ML's to survey inshore waters and harbours and bars.
My first survey vessel was HMNZS Tarapunga and with Takapu alongside we were tasked with the Firth of Thames survey.  Suffice to say that crew opened my eyes to everything Droggy (or as we surveyors were called back then - SR Bastards). From the CO's to the OD's, all were tasked with working long hours (and being open bridge no surveying if weather was kack).  And as mentioned, suntans were abounding.

While we were doing our bit in the sun, HMNZS Paea (seconded to Survey Fleet) was beavering away in Marlborough Sounds.

I was privileged to serve for 4 years on mainly Tarapunga with one short stint on Takapu.  I got to share in surveying practices dating back to Captain Cook  and I was soon to be thrown headlong into a new form of surveying - electronics.  That happened whilst the ML's were still operating, HMNZS Monowai was manned after a 2 year refurbishment. Monowai was then the most sophisticated survey vessel in the world (a mainframe computer driven by tickertape and stored in a dehumidified room the size of a Queen Bedroom.)
 Monowai was commissioned in October 1977 in Scotland.  How important this ship was for New Zealand, a port visit on the way back to NZ was at Monte Carlo, HQ for the International Hydrographic Organisation.  And a surprise visit from Jacques Cousteau (his well known ship Calypso moors at Monaco.) This delivery voyage gave us time to start bedding in the new gear.  And with three ML's fully manned, Monowai's  Droggy's (SR Bastards officially retired) were a bit on the thin size.  I think having had that journey many tasks were beneficial.  Once back in NZ Paea was returned back to Fisheries and spare Drogs attached to The Ghost (as Monowai would be lovingly become).  Monowai went straight into the Bay of Plenty survey and an extended recce of Stewart Island/Fovaeux Strait.  Between 1978 and 1980 the two ML's continued surveys of bar harbours (Manukau, Raglan and Kawhia) and finalised an eastern coast or Great Barrier Island.

This image to right is the last time both ML's were to be alongside The Ghost. In the months following this meeting, both ML's would be decommisioned after 30 years of survey service.  It also passed into history the bare chested sun baked ML sailor.  It also spelt the doom of old time salts, the ones that were lovingly called as Work Hard, Play Hard, Stay Hard.  And hardened sailors were slipping away as many of those salty Droggies decided the new way wasn't their cuppa tea,

We'd have to thank the SR Bastards that stayed on during the transition and lept headlong into writing and presenting of courses that were highly justified and very thorough.  A lot of new drogs flowed in and then filled places on Monowai and Takapu and Tarapunga (the new Inshore Survey Craft replacing the ML's) Many who took on the new survey vessels initially moaned about the long hours and all but there was a strong corp d'esprist build within the branch and also the strong admiration from fellow sailors on all vessels.
So what of it??  SR Bastards were lovingly derided. ML SR Bastards were lovingly derided, The Ghost Drogs and the ISC Drogs were all lovingly derided.  Despite the shift from sunlight surveying (sextants) to 24/7/10 surveying the privileged we all shared, be that Droggy or fellow crew.  Work Hard, Play Hard, Stay Hard.

And on that, Up Spirits!!


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  3. I served on her and we surveyed area around Whale Is , White Is , Lachlan never had a Flight deck then .Michael Rossouw NZ 17992

    1. Thank you for your post. We don't often hear from Lachlan crewmen. Hope you are well. - Zaps