Former Nelson man Jon Tucker was allowed on his eldest son’s sailing adventure to Antarctica as cabin boy on the proviso he did what he was told.
Mr Tucker joined his sons Matt and Ben for the six-week, 3000km trip from Tasmania to the ice in Ben’s yacht Snow Petrel. The vessel was originally a Nelson boat, previously named Obsession.
Mr Tucker has written a book about the trip – Snow Petrel – and was in Nelson this week to talk about his experiences. Ben has also made an acclaimed documentary on the trip, Snow Petrel Down Under.
Mr Tucker said the trio sailed “virtually straight down” from Tasmania to Antarctica. The adventure took them to Cape Denison, the windiest location on the planet and the magnetic South Pole.
Mr Tucker grew up sailing in Nelson and has spent much of his life on the water.
He and his wife Barbara Tucker (nee Westrupp), who is also from Nelson, brought up their five sons living on the family’s traditional ketch New Zealand Maid.
He said New Zealand Maid spent a lot of time in Nelson in the 1980s and 1990s, including a year in the Marlborough Sounds.
The family has cruised much of the Pacific and Australia and sailed to Mururoa in 1995. They have since relocated to Tasmania.
Mr Tucker said Cape Denison had a small boat harbour, large enough for one yacht. It has an average of 284 days a year of gale force winds.
The Snow Petrel was at Cape Denison for four days; experiencing two days of calm weather and two days of gales and blizzards which saw the boat’s rigging ice up with about two tonnes of ice.
A large piece has broken off the Ross Sea ice shelf and is blocking entry to Cape Denison, potentially closing it off for decades.
Mr Tucker said the book was onto its second run and had proved surprisingly popular with non-sailors, particularly women.
As well as recounting the voyage, the book also featured the family’s adventures bringing up five boys on New Zealand Maid.
Mr Tucker said the trip to Antarctica was a wonderful family adventure, and overall, he enjoyed not being skipper for a change.
“It was wonderful to have someone who’s in command who knew what they were doing who I could trust absolutely.”HB 167 pages