Skipper takes time to reflect on adventures

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Anchored . . . Charter yacht
Elwing, on one of its many youth adventure trips to Stewart Island during the past two decades. PHOTO: WHITE FAMILY/SUPPLIED

RICHARD.DAVISON@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Charter yacht operator Arthur White may be ‘‘under the weather’’ but he is determined to remain buoyant.

Mr White (67) has been running subsidised youth and family voyages on his 14m, cutter›rigged yacht Elwing for the past two decades, but says he is now making the most of some enforced ‘‘time out’’, following a brain tumour diagnosis in January.

Alongside Barbara, his wife of 42 years, the former King’s High School teacher, builder and Outward Bound instructor has hosted nearly 4000 youngsters — mainly around Stewart Island — over the past two decades.

He said his appetite for adventure remained undiminished, despite the recent diagnosis leaving him somewhat ‘‘under the weather’’.

‘‘The adventures we go on with the kids are as much about the overall wilderness experience as picking up sailing skills.

‘‘Central to what I try and get across is slowing life down and taking some time to really experience what’s around you, wherever you might be.

‘‘Once you start to slow down and take some time out, you can put a bit of positive energy back into your school, your community and your life. That way, you’ll gradually make the world a better place.’’

The yacht is named after Princess Elwing in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

‘‘Elwing means ‘star spray’, like a waterfall glistening in the moonlight.’’

He described Elwing as ‘‘built for adventure’’.

‘‘She’s not a flash boat, but she loves having people on her. She’ll always look after you.’’

Mr White, who was born and raised near Clinton, said he was now taking advantage of his own ‘‘time out’’ to get well at home in Taieri Mouth, and reflect on life, family, and decades of adventure.

He praised the many supporters and service clubs — including Clinton Lions — who had financially supported youngsters from across the South to experience adventures with Elwing Discoveries over the years.

‘‘We couldn’t do it without community groups and individuals nominating and supporting these youngsters. We’re just doing something we love at the end of the day.’’

He said occasionally people questioned his sanity in working with children for nearly 50 years.

‘‘But when you’re cooking breakfast for half›a›dozen wide›eyed kids on a remote beach . . .what could be better than that?’’

Mr White’s diagnosis had come after his family and friends noticed some ‘‘small changes’’ inhis speech and mobility while holidaying at Stewart Island in December.

‘‘I stopped into see the Stewart Island nurse practitioner, who I’ve known for more than 30 years, who did some tests. He just said, ‘Go to hospital,’ so I did when we got back.

‘‘I had to be flown to Christchurch for a full diagnosis. They tell me I’m a bit off colour, so I’ll be taking a few months off.’’

Despite the current hurdles, Mr White and family remained positive about the future.

‘‘This is by no means the end of Elwing Discoveries. We’re planning for the legacy of Elwing to continue long into the future.

‘‘I’d like to think I’ve got a few more adventures up my sleeve yet.’’

› She’s not a flash boat, but she loves having people on her. She’ll always look after you. ›