Biggles, The Cruel Sea etc) and it generally comes across as a fairly mean stretch of' />

Radio Hauraki pirate David Gapes has seen The Boat that Rocked and well, it wasn't like that in his day ...

I've been reading about the North Sea since I was a kid (Biggles, The Cruel Sea etc) and it generally comes across as a fairly mean stretch of water. So you can imagine my pleasure to discover that it's really a rather placid spot.

Not only does the North Sea always look like the Med at the height of summer, every single night is lit by a glorious full moon.

You've got the picture by now. The Boat that Rocked is a comedy set on a another planet and has very little in common with pirate radio in the outer Hauraki Gulf.

Radio Rock (as it's called) was a large, roomy, oceangoing steel freighter with a chef, nice furniture, a jolly crew of pirates and lots of downtime for drinking and the joys of sex.

Ours was around a third the size - a wooden coastal trader, built in the early part of last century, that had been gutted to accommodate generators, a transmitter, a studio and the mast.

The Tiri crew quarters at the back (aft!) were tiny, cramped and distinctly unglamorous. We did have a "chef", who we called the cook. His specialties were basic and of the hearty persuasion - sausages, steaks, veges, baked beans and eggs, all banged out in a galley the size of a telephone booth.

For some strange reason, given our youth and inclination, sobriety was the rule rather than the exception on the Tiri. Alcohol was certainly not banned, but was not on our provisioning lists, and the only grog on board was the occasional beer and hip flask of warming spirits.

In the three years the Tiri was at sea, I am not aware of a single instance of drunkenness or alcohol-associated problems. Also, these were the days before pot use became widespread, and if there were ever any drugs on board, I was unaware of it.

On Radio Rock, bulk supplies of beautiful girls were shipped out from the mainland for the recreational enjoyment of the crew, but the Tiri was not an equal opportunity employer and, apart from visitors from passing yachts and launches, females were a rare sight on the Tiri.

Having said all that, the Tiri was solid (three skins of two-inch heart kauri) and our guys were no saints. But the environment didn't encourage parties, and the crew were more inclined to save themselves for their week off (Tiri crew worked two weeks on and one off but were paid for three).

The money wasn't great, either - all Hauraki staff, including directors, deejays, the captains (there were two), crew and clerical people were paid $40 a week at a time when the average wage was around $100. Some weeks they got nothing.

It's not all chalk and cheese, though. There were strong political parallels between Radio Hauraki and Radio Rock. The politicians in both countries hated pirate radio ships and moved heaven and earth to shut them down, including airborne police raids and (failed) criminal charges, and - when all else failed - removing the advertising tax exemptions.

The movie is based (loosely) on the Radio Caroline story, and it's true that Caroline was the inspiration for Radio Hauraki.

The stars in Rocked - including the politicians - are caricatures rather than characters. And, looking back at our frequent dealings with "Kiwi" Keith Holyoake, Rob Muldoon, Jack Scott and "Gentleman" Jack Marshall I think I can honestly say they were just as pompous, ridiculous and shallow as their counterparts appeared to be in the UK.