Patch story: Wainui
“The sun was setting but our jackets were drawing well to a fresh south-east breeze and we two Peter Pans dug our paddles into the sea with huge zest,” remembers the younger brother.
Somehow, the pair survived the choppy crossing - soaked but alive - only to meet their father riding towards them on horseback, his face full of anger and worry, with lashings in store.
The youngest of this pair was called Frank Worsley and he grew up to be a sailor. Following a strange dream of ice, he wandered into Ernest Shackleton’s London office and was enlisted to be the captain of his next expedition aboard the Endurance, which set sail in 1914.
The expedition’s mission was to cross the Antarctic continent by land, but on the way south, the ship was frozen into the sea ice and eventually crushed by ice and sunk. The crew had to spend the winter camped on the sea ice and then would make a daring attempt to sail to safety in their lifeboats.
The lives of 28 men now depended on Worsley’s skills as a sailor and navigator. With most of the crew waiting at Elephant Island, Worsley, Shackleton and four others would have to sail a repurposed lifeboat 1300km to South Georgia Island through fierce frozen seas.
It would become known as one of the most heroic ocean voyages of all time.
With almost no sun or stars for navigation, Frank Worsley used skill and intuition to reach South Georgia after 16 days.
The little boy on the raft of reeds had an uncanny ability for survival at sea.
Frank Worsley is one of New Zealand’s little known heroes. To experience Wainui for yourself and unlock more local stories, book this patch now.
One day in the mid 1880s, two brothers were asked by their father to deliver a horse from their farm above Akaroa to the other side of the harbour. The trip there was easy - the brothers had a horse to ride.
But as they faced the 20km walk back, the pair looked across the harbour, full of a southerly breeze, and decided it would be much better to sail home.
If only they had a boat.
At this point, most people would just sigh and begin the long trudge. Not these two. They set to work building a raft of reeds. The used a stick for a mast, lashed on a yard, strung up their jackets for sails and pushed off from the Wainui beach, with two planks for paddles.