Archive for February, 2008

Cunard MS Queen Victoria

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

This is one big ship. I was quite surprised that it even fitted in to Napier Port. The NZ press touted it as being the biggest liner ever built, but I think it’s actually a wee bit smaller than Cunard’s own Queen Mary II.

Ugly looking slab IMHO.

So, they drive it into Napier Port…


three point turn…


and she’s tied up.

Here’s an aerial shot.


Now, how did I take that picture? Yes it is mine!

You wait weeks (or more, sorry) for a blog to come along and nothing, then, just like buses, three come along one after the other!

Catalina flying boat.

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Art Deco Weekend comes around every year around the anniversary of the 1931 earthquake that flattened Napier. For all of the time I’ve been here I’ve seen the the Harvards, the Mustang and the Catalina doing circuits over the weekend. The sound of the Mustang’s Merlin engine is spine-tingling. Close behind that is the beating sound of the twin radial engines of the Catalina. Anyway, here’s a picture of the Catalina flying over the Queen Vic.


Shortly after this I decided to go and check out the ground part of the air display at Napier Airport. As is the way of NZ the entry was a gold coin, so 1 or 2 dollar coin. I didn’t have either, but a 20c piece showed intent. Whilst looking around and taking a few pics I overheard that it was only $100 for a trip in the Catalina. Not a huge amount to help conserve a historic aircraft and at the same time go for a half-hour flight at around 1000ft over my current stomping ground.

My boarding pass for the Catalina flight.

This aircraft is only a few years younger than my dad, so it’s very cool that it’s still flying. They don’t land it on the sea anymore, but they do land on some of NZs freshwater lakes like Lake Taupo.

On its final approach.

One of five Harvard trainers bought from the RNZAF by Warbirds over Wanaka. Note the cool roundel.

The star of the show, the North American P51D Mustang. A half hour flight in this is available if you have a spare NZ$1500 dollars!!

A(nother) Triumph of British Engineering.

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Triumph Motorcycles are one of the last bastions of British manufacturing. OK they went bust in the seventies due to the old favourites of complacency and idiotic unions. But the name was bought by an astute business man from the building trade. Not a biker or with any knowledge of the industry, but with a keen eye for a business with serious potential, John Bloor bought the Triumph name. In 1990 they launched a new range of Triumph motorcycles.

I bought a second hand 1992 Trident 900 in 1994 and covered a lot of the UK and a fair bit of Europe on it over a period of about five years. I’ve had a few bikes in between, but always liked the look of the Speed Triple. When the latest Speed Triple model was released in 2005 I REALLY wanted one. I’ve been saving for 2-3 years and in mid-January 2008 the first one I’d seen in black, of course, and with the accessories I wanted at a reasonable second hand price came up. Imported from the US , but that didn’t bother me. So I flew down to Christchurch and the guy kindly picked me up at just after 0800 in the morning. The bike had only done 7500km including some use by the importer. It has a couple of blemishes, but nothing you’d notice unless you know where to look. At around 0930 I departed Christchurch for the long trip back to Hawkes Bay. It was four-plus hours to Picton, half an hour wait, three hours on the ferry, and another four-plus hours till I arrived home at 2130, a twelve hour journey. I hurt in places I’d forgotten you could hurt as it had been too many years since I’d spent a whole day in the saddle. Credit to the bike though, despite it’s sporting pretensions, it’s a whole lot more comfortable than the TL1000 which was crippling in a medieval way.

This picture shows my new toy with the massive Queen Victoria, one of the biggest liners ever built, being shepherded into Napier Port.

On a bike capable of the national speed limit in first gear, not having a fairing, as the TL1000 did, makes you very aware of the speed. Advantageous in both self preservation and license preservation terms.

Can’t decide if this view is better. No big queen in the background this time :P.

I’m really looking forward to touring NZ on this bike. The East Cape is on as soon as good weather coincides with a weekend or when I can grab a few days off work.

The South Island needs to be taken two or three weeks at a time, so needs a bit more planning.

I’ve got clear memories of the Trident (the whine of the straight-cut primary gears), but the exhausts on the speed triple are much louder – they sound great – but are legal and not too attention grabbing. The Yoshimura cans on the TL1000 used to set off car and shop alarms…… They’ve also made the induction sound audible which is very addictive. The handling is superb, except the suspension is a little jarring front and back. I’m pretty sure I can adjust that out.