Carl Walrond and his mates on their epic Cook Strait adventure
There were nine of us driving an old Holden and a Kingswood up to Auckland for Otago’s 1992 shield challenge. We were meant to depart at 7.00 p.m., but the ferry was delayed as it had been on ‘sea trials’. There was only a skeleton crew on. Holed up in a Picton pub and looking forward to a crossing in the bar we finally boarded at 11.00 p.m. and were horrified when the grill was down. One of us considered himself the mother of invention. He found a hose and reached through the grill to the taps and so we had beer. One of our sober drivers was more concerned than the rest. On the ceiling was a plastic dome – obviously a closed-circuit camera was watching, but nobody seemed to be watching it. There were visitors though. Some stayed. ‘Spud’ from Haast was soon downing ales and telling jokes.
‘What do you call a Spanish singer that falls onto a broken bottle? – Julio Inglassyarse.’
Another passenger poked his head in the door. Spud asked if he wanted a drink. ‘No.’ Would he prefer ‘a smack in the head then?’ As we approached the south coast lights hove into view. ‘Jeez this Wellington’s a long place.’
Returning sans shield a week later, our crossing took five hours – the captain had to head due south toward the shelter of Cloudy Bay, taking the rollers head on. Sitting outside watching huge waves, we were sprayed, not by the sea, but by an upwind chunderer – turning, she flashed a brown grin. I was soon going at both ends on the toilet, clutching my paper bag, sure that the garbled message on the intercom was to ‘abandon ship’.