Napier man Patrick Scelly owes his career as a marine engineer to the experience he had as a trainee aboard the Spirit of Adventure more than 25 years ago.
On Monday evening, he was aboard the Spirit of New Zealand when it pulled into Napier Port, working as the ship's full-time engineer.
"I was a trainee in 1985 on the Spirit of Adventure and I have been involved over the years in different forms but now as a permanent crew.
"I just really liked the work and camaraderie on the ship. You start with about 40 individual people and by the end of a typical 10-day trip, you end up as a team. It's hard to describe in words what the experience is like," he said.
The Spirit of Adventure now works under a commercial company as a tourist vessel in Fiji.
The Spirit of New Zealand was built in 1986 and Mr Scelly helped build the vessel, which is run by the Spirit of Adventure Trust.
"The experience I got as a trainee really set me up to go on to other things. I went on to work on super yachts for a while and that was something I really enjoyed," Mr Scelly said.
Over the years, he has worked with the trust, initially as a returning trainee, a voyager, volunteer crew, volunteer engineer and then permanent crew, working as an engineer.
"I get paid now, which is great, but that's not why I came back. It's not about the money, it's about helping people gain new experiences and I get just as much enjoyment out of the job now as I did when I was a trainee," he said.
The ship is normally based in Auckland, where it conducts its sailing programmes, but it is currently circumnavigating New Zealand's coast. It docked at the Napier Port to pick up a group of Hawke's Bay people who had signed up for the trust's adult coastal voyage from Napier to Wellington.
The trust's mainstream programmes are for young people but the coastal voyage gives adults a chance to experience the challenge of sailing the ship.
Most are parents of children who have been aboard the Spirit of New Zealand in the past or keen sea voyagers looking for another opportunity to set sail.
Among the adult voyagers who left port yesterday morning was Westshore woman Lea Woodward.
"I have done a bit of sailing before but not on a ship this size. When I saw the ad in the paper about the voyage, I just thought it was a good opportunity to get some more sailing experience," she said.
"I've done a skipper's course recently and thought it would be a useful chance to hone my skills and to meet new people."
Ms Woodward said the Spirit of New Zealand was a well-known icon and it was exciting to be part of its story, even for the short three-day voyage.
"I am hoping I might be able to do a bit of climbing," she said, looking at the mast and sails. "I'm really keen to see the sails in full flight and to see the splendour of it all."
Sheila Budgen is one of the watch leaders aboard the Spirit of New Zealand's journey around New Zealand. Her work involves looking after the adult voyagers during the trip. The Motueka woman has been involved with the trust since 1985, when her daughter was a trainee on the Spirit of Adventure.
But her decision in 1997 to work her first 10-day voyage aboard the Spirit of New Zealand marked the beginning of a more intimate relationship with the vessel which has seen her help the development of hundreds of young trainees.
Last year, she completed six 10-day trips on the Spirit of New Zealand and speaking aboard the ship at the Napier Port yesterday, she was excited to be helping the adult crew experience sailing the vessel to Wellington.
"I hope the people that come aboard get something new out of this voyage," Ms Budgen said.
"The young trainees we have here have just come off a 10-day trip and they'll be able to talk to the adults about their experiences sailing.
"All of the trainees have been keen to come back to help for this part of the voyage."