Two generations … same mission

2017-03 Regatta

The photograph above shows TS Godley cadets close-hauled in a Crown, autumn sailing on Lyttelton Harbour in 2017. They are learning and practising the same skills in the same-sized boat and the same environment as their predecessors from earlier generations.

The Crown is basically a fibreglass-hulled version of the old, wooden, clinker-built 17-footer that would have been familiar to the Cadets of half a century ago.

Below is another photograph, of TS Cornwell cadets in a 17-footer engaged in a Lyttelton Harbour race against TS Waireka cadets from Dunedin. The older photograph was found in the wardroom at the Cass Bay on-shore training area and dates from around 1968.

The 1968 crew are believed to include “Tiny” Lawrence, Neil Smith (later a unit commander at TS Cornwell), and Dean Cade. The fourth member is unknown.

1970s 17 footer.jpeg

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The cadets of yesteryear would probably step into a Crown and be able to sail it easily. Today’s cadets would likewise manage very well if they found themselves in a 17-footer, although they might find the boat heavier to handle and possibly slower through the water.

However, apart from the boat, there are two obvious differences between then and now.

One is the all-male crew – today’s Crown sailors are just as likely to be young women and the Crown in the top photo has a female coxswain.

Also, the lads from the previous years are not all wearing lifejackets (possibly they are under the thwarts), and their clothing seems inadequate for the conditions.

Perhaps young people were hardier then, but today’s cadets are not foolhardy. Lifejackets are now compulsory and the young people of today favour neoprene wetsuits and polypropelene undergarments to ward off hypothermia.




RNVR memorial service, 1963

1963 RNZNVR veterans plaque dedication

Cadet Petty Officer Owles, left, and Able Cadet White flank a memorial plaque at a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Veterans’ Association memorial service in Christchurch in 1963. This photo was retrieved from TS Cornwell following the earthquake of 2011.




Ripapa Island 2012


2012 Ripapa Island Fort Jervois

Cadets returned to Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour for a visit in May 2012. The island was under the care of the Sea Cadets, and latterly TS Godley, from 1946 until 1990.

National camps would be held there in the summer. Cadets would sling hammocks in the tunnels of Fort Jervois at night.

Fort Jervois was built during the “Russian Scare” of the late 19th century and housed the “disappearing” Armstrong guns, which retracted below ground level when not being fired.

The photos were taken by Lieutenant Commander Guy Ditfort NZCF.