Two classes of swashbuckling, scallywag kids from Wellsford School travelled to Warkworth last week, dressed in their pirate rags to board and commandeer the Jane Gifford for an afternoon of historical learning on the Mahurangi River.
They were welcomed aboard by helmsman Dave Parker, who started things with a quick training drill – telling them all good sailors know which is port and starboard, and not to lean over the railing.
Many of children got their first sight of the old cement works in Warkworth, seeing it from the perspective on the river as it might have been seen in the Gifford’s heyday.
They learned that the Jane Gifford is the oldest scow in New Zealand and was formerly used to deliver cattle to Little and Great Barrier Islands.
At high tide, the cattle would be herded off the boat and have to swim to shore, he told them.
Teacher Sally Jack said the Jane Gifford visit was the culmination of three weeks of pirate- themed learning for the classes.
“It has involved writing and reading stories, doing pirate maths and building model boats. We try to incorporate themes into the curriculum so things don’t get too boring.
“It’s been great for them to learn about seafaring and then actually experience this. Most of the kids have never been on a big ship and a lot were really worried until they realised it was safe and it wasn’t going to tip over.”
The pirate event finished off both the school term and the Jane Gifford’s sailing season. It now goes into dry-dock for two months for maintenance.
Dave Parker says the next opportunity to sail the Jane Gifford will be in September as part of group charter tours which can be booked on the website janegifford.org.nz.
He says the ship already has a wedding booked in for the upcoming summer season.