Change at helm of TSS Earnslaw


This month marks a change at the helm of Queenstown’s iconic tourist steamship.

Graham Moore-Carter, who’s captained the Earnslaw for 35 years, has stepped down as senior skipper as the ‘Lady of the Lake’ prepares to resume sailing on Monday following her annual survey.

His replacement is former Earnslaw stoker Peter Greer, who’s skippered the boat for nine years.

Moore-Carter, nicknamed ‘Twinny’ in honour of the twin-screw steamer, has been senior skipper for the past 15 years.

He hopes to continue skippering for a few more years but at 65 says the timing’s right to take a more relaxed role.

“I was getting five or six phone calls a day, even on my days off, and now I get no phone calls - it’s wonderful.”

He also won’t miss the amount of administration and regulatory work involved with the top job.

Moore-Carter says there’s a lot of pride in skippering a maritime icon - “it’s the pride in the vessel, the company you work for and the people you work with that makes the job really enjoyable”.

A highlight was taking the Earnslaw on her centenary voyages to Kingston and Glenorchy three years ago.

Moore-Carter calls the boat, which daily plies the lake from Queenstown to Walter Peak, a graceful dowager but with “a tendency to snap back at you occasionally if you don’t treat her right”.

“She doesn’t turn all that well, but she does have damn good brakes on her.

“The most important thing is teamwork - you are reliant on the engineer and the stokers, and their training is second to none, and your deck staff and your cafe staff.

“Without them all working together, you might have a few issues.”

Moore-Carter says his worst - but also funniest – incident came in ’91, when he grounded the boat in Frankton Arm.

“I rang up the wife and said I’ve got a few issues here.

“She bundled the kids in the car, came down onto the beach and my little fellow, who was four, ran around telling everyone, including the media who’d turned up, ‘that’s my dad, he’s the captain’.”

In his defence, Moore-Carter says he’d rung in sick that day but the company had been short of a skipper.

Fortunately, the boat was refloated reasonably easily after half an hour, and thanks to the “good graces” of then boss Bryan Hutchins, the skipper kept his job.