Captain’s Log

The Seniorita moored at Pine Harbour.

I recently had the pleasure of stumbling upon the Captain’s log book from my parent’s boat, the Seniorita. It had long been misplaced, buried in a box with other memorabilia at the back of a wardrobe.

The book had not seen the light of day for perhaps 10 years, and its pages had not been read since the 40ft Don Senior was sold in 2001.

My parents, Graham and Kaewyn Walters, had the boat built to their requirements by Bill Cranston Boat Builders in Tauranga in 1996. It was sold five years later to another family from Auckland. Dad and Mum owned several boats previously and several after, but this one would always be their favourite.  

The Seniorita was aptly named in recognition of its ‘Senior’ design, and its correlation to my grandmother’s name, Carlita, who also had some Spanish ancestry.  

The Log book, mostly journaled by the Captain’s first mate Kaewyn, reads like a treasure trove of memories and family adventures. Moored at Pine Harbour, the Seniorita spent many hours at sea, from the Bay of Islands, Poor Knight Islands and Great Barrier to the Mercury Islands. Through its pages it details the weather, fishing adventures, many on-board shenanigans and inscriptions from the numerous guests that had travelled on board.

It has been quite significant to find the log book and look back on the great times that were had. My father Graham is now confined to a wheel chair with a debilitating and rare form of Parkinson’s called MSA. His many tales and adventures from the sea are now memories, captured within the pages of this book and via the many photographs that were taken.

An exerpt:

8th January 1998:

Continue up to Fitzroy Harbour, find a quiet bay and anchor. Captain listens to weather forecast, 30 knot winds gusting to 50 knots on Friday.

Captain decides for immediate evacuation, as we have a wedding to go to.  Stove turned off, everything is packed away. 7.55pm begin journey back to Kawau Island.

Huge 2 metre swells and waves, I was worried we should turn back, but captain presses on. Out from Tryphena 1 ½ hours, getting dark. Captain trying to steer to avoid hull banging down into the troughs. Several on board sick.

Five hours later we crawl into Bon Accord Harbour. Very tired and bedraggled crew. 1.30am everybody goes to bed.

4.00am woken by a loud thud, we have a yacht rubbing up against us…we are also drifting, heading towards a steel barge….captain tries to pull up anchor and finds that it is hooked on the yacht. Jump onto yacht to raise their anchor to no avail. Reversing we see a buoy, we tie stern onto this to avoid further collision with yacht and steel barge. Captain decides to go for a dive in the morning to un-hook the anchor, we have a hot drink and wait for the sun to come up.

9th January:

6.30am. Captain and crew member go for a dive to discover anchor had un-hooked itself. Check yacht for any damage but thanks to our crew, not a mark. Seniorita has some damage to her stainless steel strip on the star board side and a small gouge. Not too bad considering what could have been, as we had anchored at the other end of the bay. Could have landed on the rocks or hit numerous boats as we had drifted so far. Too rough to head to Pine Harbour today, wind at Tiri 40-56 knots.

10th January

Beautiful day, arrive Pine Harbour 10.30 am.

This particular exerpt would be the roughest seas the Seniorita would encounter within this log book. Her other adventures were centred on diving, fishing and plenty of eating while Rod Stewart sang through the sound system. Wherever the Seniorita is now, I hope her current log book is as entertaining as this one!


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