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R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust

Sailing in the Bay of Islands

tall ship charters

Experience a tall ship!  Regardless of age or ability, the R.Tucker Thompson has created memories and friends for thousands of travellers over the years. Throughout the New Zealand summer, she provides the opportunity for visitors to the Bay of Islands to experience a working tall ship with her own unique history.

Our tourism sailings run from November until Easter, providing the chance for visitors to experience a working tall ship.

You don’t often get the opportunity to sail on a working tall ship, help set the sails or take the helm. But on the Tucker, you are welcome! We have harnesses if you want the challenge of climbing the rigging or climb out on the bowsprit and ride the waves. If you you’d like to relax, that’s fine too – enjoy the delicious food and chat with our friendly crew.

Profits made from tourism activities help us keep the ship in good condition as well as support our youth sail training programmes. We may not be the cheapest day tourism product in the Bay, but we think you’ll agree that it is good value… plus you are supporting a good cause!

The R. Tucker Thompson is operated by a not-for-profit trust which is a registered charity. All income derived from our tourism sailing activities are used for her maintenance, as well as providing a contribution to help Northland youth access the sail training voyages.

In this way, the ship can continue to provide pleasure and learning to people of all ages; young and old, Māori and Pākehā, visitors and Northlanders alike.

The ship was originally owned in partnership by Tod Thompson, Greta Simmonds and Russell Harris until 1992, when Russell purchased Tod and Greta’s shares in the ship. On reaching retirement, Russell wanted to protect the future of this Northland icon and transferred her into a Trust for the benefit of the people of Te Tai Tokerau Northland.

Russell still remains involved on the Board of Trustees along with 7 others who contribute their time willingly so support the Trust.

About the Ship

Nearly there!

The traditional gaff-rigged schooner, R. Tucker Thompson was started by R. Tucker Thompson in the late 1970s as a project to embody the best features of a traditional design, married to the materials of today. After Tucker’s death, the R. Tucker Thompson was completed by Tucker’s son Tod Thompson and Russell Harris. The ship was built in Mangawhai, New Zealand and launched in 1985.

Her design is based on the Halibut schooners of the North West American coast which were considered fast and sea kindly and easily manned. She has a lofty rig of varnished oregon spars. Kwila decks and bulwarks with flashes of brasswork to make her look as she should, a working ship of the 19th Century, purposeful and square-shouldered, but with a touch of style and speed – sufficient to out-run the law! The hull is 6mm steel with 3 water-tight bulkheads, a steel deck overlaid with kwila hardwood and 75mm hatch coamings. This gives her immense integrity and strength and she is absolutely dry below. She was built using computer generated calculations for stability and carries a loadline certificate to this effect. She carries 18 tonnes of fixed steel ballast. The interior is a mixture of oregon and kwila with 2 double cabins and 11 single berths. The galley is designed to cater for 15 crew with a gas stove and boiling water on demand. There is a hot shower and 2 hand basins.

The engine is a 180 HP John Deere diesel which drives the generators for ship’s power. The bilge pumping system is connected to each water-tight compartment and is big enough to deliver 20 tonnes per hour out of the ship. She carries sufficient fuel for 2000 mile range and water for 6 weeks at sea with careful use. Her navigation equipment includes GPS, radar, Furono depth sounder and we have a Koden HF 4000 radio for long range communication. She carries a 4.2 metre Zodiac Class rescue inflatable with a 20 HP outboard.The ship’s current survey is class seven foreign vessel which means that she can carry passengers around the coast of New Zealand as well as off shore. She has been built and maintained to the highest standards and is professionally manned and equipped to go anywhere in the world at any time. The R. Tucker Thompson has a very high reputation in the traditional sailing world and is considered a perfect example of a working Tall Ship with the advantage of being new and safe. We have carried hundreds of people around the world and around the Pacific with no accidents, as well as over 120,000 people on day pleasure trips.