Home > News > Archive > 16th August 2005

Boat reclaimed from seabed

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Salvage operation
NZ STEEL barge’s heavy lifting equipment hauls the boat, stern first, to the surface in the Kawhia Harbour. 228051AD

By Cathy Asplin

A 48ft steel boat that sank at Kawhia four weeks ago was finally retrieved from the seabed on Friday.

Marine contractor Alan Rutherford says weather and other commitments, coupled with the need to use heavy lifting equipment, meant the salvage couldn’t be attempted until last week.

Mr Rutherford and his helpers utilised the NZ Steel barge and its heavy lifting equipment to raise the boat for its owners.
He says it is unclear why the boat sank during heavy weather, but he believes it may have flooded through the exhaust for the generator.

“This meant we had to use the main winch and gantry on the barge to lift the stern of the boat, which allowed us to close off the openings and vents, then pump out the boat before raising it. Our first attempt was actually on Thursday, but the pumping equipment couldn’t cope, so we had to find more pumps and have a second go on Friday. Fortunately this was successful and it came up quite easily in the end.”

The beautiful weather at Kawhia on Friday was in stark contrast to when the boat first sank. Mr Rutherford says it went down fairly close to where it had been moored, so the boat didn’t cause any obstruction in the harbour.

“There was some concern initially about the diesel leaking from it, but we had commercial divers go down to plug the vents to the tanks. There wasn’t any significant spill and it dispersed easily, so never caused any real problems.

“The owners of the oyster farm were a little worried that it may have reached there, but in the end it wasn’t affected.”

While he was pleased with the result, Mr Rutherford says there is still plenty of work ahead for the owners to restore the boat.

“The interior was full of silt and all of the electrics will be ruined. It’s been submerged for at least three weeks, so I imagine it will have to be stripped completely.”

The boat was cleaned by the wharf and was to be beached so the hull could be inspected before it could be refloated. Mr Rutherford understands the boat was not insured.