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
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
''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
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''.