Three generations of Hutchins on first TSS sailing

Date: 7 July 2020

It was ‘all hands on deck’ on the TSS Earnslaw, as three generations of the Hutchins family joined the first cruise (on Saturday) since New Zealand went into lockdown over three months ago.

Three generations of Hutchins on first TSS sailing post-lockdown

Olive, Lady Hutchins with son Bryan and grandson Ryan Hodges at Walter Peak on Saturday

Real Journeys founder, Olive, Lady Hutchins was accompanied by her son, Bryan, a former chief executive of the company – whilst grandson, Ryan Hodges was the skipper.

Ryan, who has been a qualified skipper for seven years and was officially cleared for the notoriously difficult Earnslaw last year, admits he was a little nervous to be back behind the wheel of the 330-tonne vessel after such a long break.

“I will have a few nerves yes, it’s a pride thing, you always want to make sure you do a nice tidy berth. I’m excited to just get this old lady moving again and sharing her with people,” says Hodges.

The vintage steamship always ceases to operate for 5 – 6 weeks during her annual survey. This year’s survey was done ‘in water’, but with lockdown at the start - it is the longest time she’s sat idle for over 30 years.

It’s so great seeing so many people supporting us and enjoying themselves.

Bryan Hutchins, former chief executive, Real Journeys

A small crowd had gathered on Steamer Wharf as midday approached, and as Hodges nudged the vessel slowly away, they broke out in cheers and applause.

Olive Hutchins smiles, as she says quietly that it all makes her feel “very proud”. Whilst son Bryan Hutchins says it’s good to be on the water again. “It’s so great seeing so many people supporting us and enjoying themselves.”

200 passengers were on board the midday sailing, which includes a garden and farm tour at Walter Peak High Country Farm, and the option of a High Tea on the return journey.

Forty of the passengers chose the new high tea option, and the Hutchins were delighted to hear that the chefs had been able to prepare such elaborate home baking in the tiny 107-year-old galley.

“Hats off to the chefs. It was delicious and perfect for this historical occasion,” says Bryan Hutchins.

The iconic steamship has been operated and maintained by the Hutchins family since 1969.

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