By Stuff

Cook Strait is a notorious stretch of water and, as many ferry passengers know, it can be a frightening stomach-churning ride. It's a rough patch of sea with fierce tides. Thirty-knot winds are routine, it can get up to 80 knots and waves get up to 7 metres – the height of a two-storey house.

Fortunately for landlubbers the rough bit of the passage between Wellington heads and Tory Channel lasts only about an hour. But for a small cadre of seamen this is their patch and they are out there day and night in all weather, 365 days a year, in the Seapatroller, a 27m converted old navy inshore patrol boat. Their job is to patrol the cable protection zone, a 7-kilometre-wide strip running 40km from Oteranga Bay, on Wellington's southeastern extremity, to the nearest convenient South Island landfall at Fighting Bay.

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