The weather was great. So was the atmosphere. Members and guests assembled for the Bosun’s Happy Hour at Mercury Bay Estate, overlooking the bay. Captain Cook (alias Brian Pilkington) was there to greet everyone, dressed immaculately. Special visitors included Riemer Brouwer from Melbourne, and Peter Andersen from Odense, Denmark. Brian Wyeth opened the weekend with a welcome to friends from the last meeting two years earlier in Wellington, and to many new members, including Hannah Easton, the society’s youngest member. The warm, late-summer evening was enhanced by local Mercury Bay wine, breads and dips, stories, catch-ups and photos.
An early start next morning saw the hall open at 8.30am. Many people were keen to view Paul Deacon and Jill Cameron’s magnificent art, the various excellent displays, and to find a seat to hear Graeme Lay and Dame Anne Salmond. Their talks did not disappoint—both were outstanding! A delicious morning tea was provided by local CCS ladies. Then we discussed plans for 2019 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival in New Zealand. Local community board representatives also attended, so there were over 75 people at the meeting.
We then adjourned to the Purangi River Reserve for a BBQ lunch, and the firing of Tony Southall’s cannon salute! There was much surprise at the noise generated by the two small imitation Endeavour cannons, ceremonially lit by a wary Dame Anne.
After lunch, two separate groups set off on a tour of some of the local Cook historic points of interest, including the Ngati Hei fish and food grounds, Endeavour’s mooring spot, the watering place, the location of the observation of the Transit of Mercury, Shakespeare Head, and the historic Ferry Landing.
The Captain’s Table dinner began at beautiful Flaxmill Bay at 6.30pm, with pre-dinner drinks and tastings of Captain Cook Spruce Beer. Our dinner was served on a place mat that we could take home, as it was a laminated chart of Mercury Bay drawn by Cook on his visit in November 1769.
One of the highlights of the evening was a bidding war between Brian Wyeth and Dave Horsburgh for a rare Captain Cook Study Unit tie donated by 91-year-old member Allan Arlidge. Dave won the war with a magnificent bid of $50.
Next morning, guests assembled early for a trip across the Whitianga River to the Mercury Bay Museum. It has many superb Cook items, including framed replicas from Cook’s journal of his time in the area. They had been donated to the museum by CCS member Michael Horton, explained Ron Morgan, the museum’s curator during his welcome to members.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 42, volume 38, number 2 (2015).
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