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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)

Splendid Boat Work

Splendid Boat Work.

“Not much chance of working the light-house,” I remarked to Captain Burgess.

“We'll go round and have a look,” was his attitude, so up came the anchor, and cautiously feeling the way by the use of the lead, the Matai got within sight of the landing, a heavy concrete pier standing out into the page 27
The anchorage at Cape Maria Van Dieman, scene of much thrilling surf-boat work.

The anchorage at Cape Maria Van Dieman, scene of much thrilling surf-boat work.

surf which smashed against the rocks. On the pier was a crane with a long jib, to stretch out beyond the breaking surf. Out came a couple of heavy surf-boats, and the ship's oil launch. The fore hatch was taken off, and the launch took aboard several bags of ballast to keep its screw in the water as much as possible. The handy bags were used to contain the ballast because there might be emergencies when it must be rapidly thrown overboard.

Ranging up and down alongside the Matai, the surf-boats provided a problem in smart winch work. A sling of cargo went up, and was slung overside. Then upwards and inwards surged the boat, and at the exact moment down came the load with a rush, to be instantly stowed by a couple of sailors who could do the double job of cargo handling and keeping their balance.

Having been towed to a point beneath the crane jib, the loaded surf-boat was anchored, and the launch cruised in circles, its crew closely watching for any dangerous drift of the surf-boat. Landing the cargo called for the same quick action as its loading. Down into the rolling sea came a looped wire from the crane, and when boat and wire approximately coincided—which would happen for a split second—the load was hitched on, and light-keepers at the winch lifted it clear of the rising sea. Passengers had to land in the same way, and it was no job for the nervous—grab the wire, foot into loop, and hold on, while the boat surged from beneath.