Kiwi van drivers conquer Cook Strait > New Zealand

24 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Kiwi van drivers conquer Cook Strait > New Zealand

September 2009

Kiwi van drivers conquer Cook Strait

08 Sep 2009

Two plucky young New Zealanders have driven their way into the record books after crossing Cook Strait – the passage between the North and South Islands – in a rather unlikely amphibian van.

Aeronautic machinists Adam Turnbull and Dan Melling, both 23, took just under 10 hours to navigate across the notorious stretch of water in a converted Toyota Town Ace van nicknamed #8217;Roofliss#8217;.

Having set off under cover of darkness from the head of the South Island and fuelled themselves en route with pies heated on the exhaust system, Turnbull and Melling landed near Wellington, in the North Island, to a heroes welcome.

Famous quote

We knocked the bastard off, a gleeful Turnbull shouted to the crowd as they drove the van out of the water – echoing the famous words of New Zealand#8217;s most celebrated explorer Sir Edmund Hillary when he conquered Mount Everest.

We made it and we didn#8217;t sink, and we didn#8217;t get eaten by sharks, Turnbull said.

Ridiculed by sceptics when they announced their plan last month, the intrepid pair has been praised for real Kiwi ingenuity and spirit since Sunday#8217;s successful crossing.

Early departure

The van#8217;s epic voyage began at Waikawa Bay Marina at 6am. It was still dark as the black Toyota van rolled into the waters of the Marlborough Sounds with Metallica playing on the sound system.

Within half an hour of casting off, Melling and Turnbull were enjoying breakfast in Charlotte Sound, though the calm was broken at 6.45am as a towering InterIslander ferry ploughed past.

With their pies heated and the make-shift toilet out of one of the van’s windows functioning, the 65km journey to the North Island was looking plausible.

I don’t know what everyone’s been going on about, Melling said. It’s nice and smooth and dry.

Engine trouble

At 9.15am, things were looking a little less positive when the engine suddenly cut out. But the problem was rectified when a loose battery lead was discovered and repaired.

#8217;Roofliss#8217; left the shelter of the Marlborough Sounds to enter Cook Strait at about 10.20am.

The pair decided to navigate around the northern side of Mana Island on their approach to Wellington to avoid choppy conditions to the south. Although waves pushed over the bow and the vessel broached at times, conditions throughout the journey were good.

As Melling and Turnbull passed The Brothers islands, a small pod of dolphins joined them escorting the van out into the middle of Cook Strait.

They probably haven’t seen mag wheels before, Melling joked.

Fishing lure

About halfway across Cook Strait, #8217;Roofliss#8217; struck another mechanical problem when the support boat, which had been trawling a fishing lure from its stern, narrowly missed tangling in the van’s propeller and latched on to the polystyrene undercarriage.

Hanging from the van’s window, Melling managed to sever the line.

As the North Island drew near, support boat skipper Jimma Dillon said he couldn’t believe what he had witnessed.

I just love it. I can’t believe how Roofliss has handled. It is actually rolling less than this boat is. I think it shows real Kiwi ingenuity and spirit at its best, said Dillon.

Mana Marina welcome

At 3.45pm, the amphibious vessel entered Mana Marina – exactly nine hours and 45 minutes after leaving Waikawa Bay.

We are definitely pretty stoked. It has got to be up there. She’s pretty high in New Zealand achievements, Melling said.

We had life jackets, but we didn’t need them because it was such a seaworthy craft, said Turnbull.

And the two had a message for the youth of today: Get off the Playstation and go and turn something into something stupid.

#8217;Roofliss#8216; is now up for sale on New Zealand#8217;s TradeMe website. The trusty van will be sold to the highest bidder so its creators can recoup some of the funds invested in the project.

More information:

YouTube boaties

YouTube Cook Strait crossing

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