Counting on secret remedy

Peter Garden
Peter Garden
One of those on board the storm-struck naval vessel HMNZS Wellington is the ''world's worst'' sailor - Wanaka helicopter pilot and pensioner Peter Garden (67).

His partner, Bev Clark, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the veteran Southern Ocean pilot far preferred being in the air than on the water.

She had been unable to find out how Mr Garden had fared during the fierce storm that drove the ship back towards Stewart Island but hoped to talk to him once it reached Paterson Inlet this afternoon. Ms Clark said the storm ''must have been horrendous.''

The HMNZS Wellington encountered 14m waves and 70-knot winds and received some superficial damage.

The ship is due to resume its trip south on Saturday and with no easy exit - there is no helicopter on board - Mr Garden is not expected home any time soon.

Ms Clark said a friend of Mr Garden's described him as a ''stubborn old bugger'' and she did not expect he had any intention other than to complete the mission.

Mr Garden is armed with ''Kaikoura bombs'' - a sea-sick remedy containing secret ingredients taken by people before whale-watching trips.

Ms Clark said Mr Garden was very much looking forward to visiting Campbell Island for the first time since helping clear it of rats in 2001.

''That's what put New Zealand on the map.

''He led the team that did that Campbell Island job that people thought was a bit ambitious. It's been highly successful.''

''It's absolutely rat-free and all the birds have returned.

''He does all these projects and doesn't get to see the benefits once they are finished.''

During the trip, Mr Garden will be looking at the practicalities of eradicating mice from the Antipodes Islands.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is also among the 80 people on board HMNZS Wellington and a spokeswoman said he was handling the weather well and was ''fine''.