Tug slips moorings with delighted crew on board

STEAMY: As the engines are re-ignited for the first time in three years, steam fills the Lyttelton's engine compartment.

Historic tug Lyttelton could be carrying passengers for the first time in three years this December after successfully undertaking sea trials last week.

Tug Lyttelton Preservation Society stokers successfully brought the 112-year-old tug’s boiler up to the right pressure over four days. Crew members were given the green light to head out for sea trials last Thursday.

Tug Lyttelton Preservation Society head stoker Mike Bruce said he and the crew were “very pleased” and it was a “very emotional time for many.”

“We never expected this a week ago, never expected it.”

Mr Bruce said the society’s short-term task would be to address any further issues raised by the marine surveyor present last week. The surveyor’s report would be discussed at the society’s next meeting.

The stoking of the engine went “absolutely perfectly” Mr Bruce said. The optimum pressure of 80psi was reached by 10am on Thursday morning.

All equipment on-board was run and signed off by an attending marine surveyor and a marine architect as steam was pushed through the engines to warm them.

Mr Bruce said that the engines “ran like they had never been down” after they were started for the first time in three years at 11am.

“Its a very real credit to the fantastic team of engineers who have looked after them all this time. Not to forget those men who designed and built them all those years ago,” he said.

When it was suggested the crew could “slip the lines and take her off the wharf,” Mr Bruce said it was “kittens running to the cream bowl,” with society members scrambling in excitement.

“One of our members who joined three years ago and turns up every week had never seen the engines running. Never sailed on-board while under her own power. The guy was ecstatic.”

He said the tug’s lap around the harbour went “too quick,” but had feedback from those who had seen it was “huge, better than we hoped for.”

“We intend to build on that momentum and keep this historic vessel for future generations.”