Northland schools and community groups can get out on to the high seas on classic sail-training schooner R. Tucker Thompson next week, as the ship berths in Whangārei Harbour.

The R. Tucker Thompson will be at Port Nikau, in Whangārei, from May 23 to 27 and the trust behind the training schooner is offering two-hour sailings aboard the vessel for schools and community groups.

R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust spokesman Denis Orme said the ship can take groups of more than 20 people and the sailors will be encouraged to set sails, take the helm, put on a harness to climb the rigging and go out on the bowsprit, all under expert guidance from the crew.

As well, they will get a unique view of Whangārei from the harbour onboard an iconic schooner.


While in the harbour it will host an all-ages community sailing event on the boat from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Later the same day, from 1pm to 3pm the trust will host its popular Kiddies Pirate Sail Day, which is a chance for families to dress up as pirates on a real tall ship. It's a fun opportunity and there will be a prize for the best-dressed pirate.

Tickets for the community sails and Pirate Day are $27.50 per person.

On May 27 the trust will host an open sailing day in conjunction with Whangārei Lions from 10.30am to 3.30pm. The event is a fundraiser and via donations will go to the Lions.

Tickets for the events are available on line at

The R. Tucker Thompson is operated by a not-for-profit charitable trust. All income derived from its tourism sailing activities are used for her maintenance, as well as providing a contribution to help Northland youth access the sail training voyages.

The ship was originally owned in partnership by Tod Thompson, Greta Simmonds and Russell Harris until 1992, when Harris bought out the others' shares in the ship.

On reaching retirement, Harris wanted to protect the future of this Northland icon and on June 4, 2006, transferred her into a trust for the benefit of the people of Te Taitokerau Northland. Harris still remains involved on the Board of Trustees.