Island residents had heard that Malcom Sword’s new barge was a big one, and the school pupils were excited to be allowed to go see the new bearer of goodies to the island.
As it turned out, some students were a little disappointed because the barge didn't come in close. Some older pupils commented that the construction team who had built the wharf had operated a bigger barge and it had come through the wharf entrance.
“Apparently the seabed was dredged a little at the opening in preparation for the barge’s arrival, but it appears the pilot was not sure about the vessel fitting through that small opening and, with it being low tide, we could see clearly the ledge of rock that juts out below water level either side of the wharf opening,” said teacher June Hosking.
“Students were trying to compare the width of the barge with the wharf mouth - not the best way to estimate, but perhaps it would have been too tight a fit.
“So we all got to watch cargo being delivered in the way it generally does, via the lighter. And it was still worth seeing, as the skill of those loading and unloading really shines.”
In appreciation, a big cheer went up from students as a utility truck gently came to rest after an excellent bit of offloading choreography, orchestrated without fuss by the local “wharfies”.
“I spoke briefly to Royston, Mauke's executive officer, who thought with it being such a perfect day, the weather and ocean both so calm, that it would have been worth attempting to bring the barge right in,” said Hosking.
“But then again, after the sea transport mishaps that have happened on Mauke over the past six or so years, perhaps it was better to play it safe this time. There has been some talk since, of trying to break some of the rock jutting out in the opening.”
Before long it was time for the students to return to school for the next period – and it was back to the classroom for the rest of the day.