Full steam ahead for Lyttelton tug with first public sailings since March

Tug Lyttelton heads into the harbour. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Tug Lyttelton heads into the harbour. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Trips on the historic tug boat Lyttelton are expected to be very popular when they start again this month.

The public excursions will take place every Sunday from January 24, weather permitting, until Easter weekend.

The tug was booked out over Christmas, hosting chartered end-of-year work parties.

But this month will see the first public sailings since March last year after Covid-19 kept the boat in its berth.

With most Kiwis having to stay in New Zealand this summer, it is hoped people will take an interest in tug Lyttelton.

“We had sell-out sailings last year pre-Covid, so we are hoping for another great response this year. People are interested in the tug’s unique heritage,” said Roger Ellery, of the Tug Lyttelton Preservation Society.

The tug will depart at 2.30pm from the No 2 wharf, cruising around the harbour and out to Lyttelton Heads. It will return to dock at 4pm.

During the trips, a historian provides a running commentary on the tug and its history.

“Inside Lyttelton, the wheel house provides a fun experience. You can witness how the captain runs the show and co-ordinates with the engine room below deck,” said Ellery.

“When the captain decides to change the propellers’ settings, they have to signal down to the engine room via a telegraph system.

“The engineers acknowledge this and then start working to ensure the captain gets what he wants.”

Another highlight will be a visit to the engine room, where passengers will be able to see the stokers’ shovelling coal into the boilers, ensuring enough steam is produced for the tug to run.

Maintained and managed by the Tug Lyttelton Preservation Society, the steam-powered vessel is more than 100-years-old after being established in 1907.

A large amount of preparation goes in to getting Lyttelton sea ready.

“Each year, Lyttelton undergoes an annual survey where she is looked at in dry dock. The hull is cleaned.

“The propellers get taken off and checked for any cracks or damage. A lot of maintenance is carried out on the boilers,” said Ellery.

Previously, tickets were on sale at the wharf, but due to new Covid-19 protective measures, online bookings will now be essential.

•For tickets, visit www.tuglyttelton.co.nz







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