Captain 'Andy' skippered
the 'Tiare Taporo' for
A.B. Donald Ltd
over several decades.
Captain Andy Thompson
While the original "Tiare Taporo" was based in the Cook Islands (permanently from 1919 through 1949 and then intermittently until 1968) her two most famous masters were Viggo Rasmussen and Andy Thompson, both of whom became legends in the Pacific. I haven’t been able to find much biographical detail on Capt. Rasmussen yet so can a reader please help me out? Information on Capt. Andy though is abundant:
Captain Andy Thompson was and is known far and wide as one of the most colourful seafarers of the Pacific and the Cook Islands.
Captain Andy, as he is fondly remembered, was born in New York on 21 January 1885. He left home as a young boy to serve in square-rigged ships in the Atlantic trade before wandering around America serving as a quartermaster on ships on the Great Lakes.
His voyages out of Seattle and San Francisco included one to Alaska where he briefly settled, working on railway construction. It was there that he lost 11 of his teeth which were then capped gold and his golden smile became a trademark.
Sailing the Pacific on a Boston barque, Captain Andy first came to Rarotonga when he was 15 years old. He made the island his paradise home 3 years later in 1912 after which he married and raised a large family. All his surviving children still remember their dad as a 'great father and great man'. His children travelled with him on his voyages and his sons became part of his crew when they turned 19 or 20. Today his youngest son James owns and operates a fleet of tug boats on the Auckland harbour.
Captain Andy met many outstanding men and women on his far ranging voyages and became the centre of countless yarns and stories across the Pacific. His voyages to the outer islands on “Tiare Taporo” were the lifeline of the isolated atolls.
Captain Andy's daughter Dorothy remembers him as being an extremely generous man who helped many outer islanders return home aboard his vessels, even when they could not afford it. "The other thing was that before he went off on another trip, he always came to school to give us a hug," remembers Dorothy.
Many who were fortunate to meet Captain Andy have a tale or two about the colourful character but all will tell you that Captain Andy never lost a man or a ship. If a man went overboard they were always picked up, even in a cyclone.
His love of people sometimes saw him take a week to cycle from Avarua to the Thompson homestead opposite the Rarotonga Beach and Spa Resort in Arorangi, where the bar and restaurant is named after the famous captain. He would pop in and see a friend on the way home and have a yarn and a drink and eventually would have to stay the night and this would carry on throughout the week as he popped in and visited another friend until he eventually reached his home.
Captain Andy was an active man up until his death on 20 October 1975 aged 90.
So far-reaching was his reputation as an accomplished captain, great man and friend that a Rarotonga visitor in the 60s and 70s, Edwin 'Ned' David Avary, who struck up a close friendship with the Captain had as his final wish the desire to have his ashes laid by the grave side of the legendary captain. This was fulfilled in 2002.
As we talk to people about this name it is most evident the very many families that the original “Tiare Taporo” touched. Captain Andy was a respected and valued senior employee of A.B. Donald Ltd for the many years he skippered the company's vessels.