Kindness warms moored Aussie pair

Jackie Morison and Dave Hart, on their vessel Hansel, have been in their bubble at Oamaru Harbour...
Jackie Morison and Dave Hart, on their vessel Hansel, have been in their bubble at Oamaru Harbour since sailing in just hours before the country went into Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
For Jackie Morison and Dave Hart, the Covid-19 lockdown experience has felt like something out of a fairytale.

When the Australian couple from Rathmines, south of Newcastle, in New South Wales, sailed into Oamaru Harbour less than 10 hours before the national Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, little did they know they would still be in North Otago several weeks later.

Since March 29, Mrs Morison and Mr Hart have been isolating on their 37-foot-long vessel Hansel, only coming ashore when necessary on their tender, Gretel.

Mrs Morison said Oamaru was not necessarily part of their original travel plans, but that changed thanks to Covid-19.

"We were in Wellington and we thought we could go to the Marlborough Sounds. The weather was so good we decided to skip the Marlborough Sounds and go to Akaroa. The weather was still good so we thought we would travel as far south as we can."

They then got in touch with Oamaru Harbour co-ordinator Kevin Murdoch after deciding to continue to head south and after a mooring was confirmed, were later told they had to be in Oamaru by 11.59pm on March 29.

Mrs Morison said that came as a shock.

"We don’t have a TV on board so all of the information on Covid was coming from people asking us if we knew what was going on."

Despite being surrounded by water, the couple had enjoyed their time in Oamaru on their solar- and wind-powered yacht.

They were using the bathroom facilities at the nearby North Otago Yacht and Power Boat Club and had been lent a modem and DVDs by Oamaru Library to help pass the time, which had otherwise been occupied by games, activities and crafts.

A friend in Kakanui dropped off some quinces, which had been turned into paste and jam.

There had been the occasional trip to the supermarket and plenty of kind words from people who knew of their plight.

"Everyone is very supportive ... People are certainly asking, ‘Do you need anything, do you want anything?’."

Mr Hart said they would likely set sail once restrictions were relaxed to Level 1.

The couple left Coffs Harbour for Opua in the Bay of Islands on December 7, then sailed to Wellington and finally Oamaru.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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