Family in shock after ramp slip at Waiheke Island ferry wharf

Fullers' fully computerised Capricornian Surfer ferry is on loan from Australia..
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Fullers' fully computerised Capricornian Surfer ferry is on loan from Australia..

A family is counting their blessings after a gap between a Fullers ferry and the wharf opened up as they were disembarking.

The incident happened on March 16 after the mum and her three young sons travelled on Fullers ferry Capricornian Surfer's maiden voyage from Auckland's Devonport to Waiheke Island.

The ferry is on loan to the company for use on the route for the next two years.

The vessel was docked at Matiatia's second wharf, on the right-hand side.
DIANA WORTHY/FAIRFAXNZ

The vessel was docked at Matiatia's second wharf, on the right-hand side.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was carrying her nine-month-old baby in a sling while holding hands with her five and three-year-olds.

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She said they stepped onto the mobile ramp gangway, at around 3.45pm, after docking at Waiheke's Matitia ferry terminal.

"We were second to disembark, following an elderly lady, and I could feel the gangway shaking.

"There was a gap of between 30cm and 45cm between the wharf and the gangway, definitely big enough for my sons to fall down.

"The engines were on full power. That's the reason I don't think we would have survived.

"The water was churning and we'd have got sucked under really quickly.

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"We had to jump," she said.

She said she was in shock but her husband was there to meet them.

The woman said when she went to complain to Fullers staff, she was told they "didn't deal with this" and handed a card.

She has reported the incident to the Maritime New Zealand Authority.

The authority said it had contacted Fullers Ferries but would not know for another week whether a formal inquiry would be launched.

A spokeswoman for Fullers Ferries confirmed the gangway had been securely fastened to the ferry.

But she said a gap of approximately 6 inches was created when the gangway moved with the vessel.

Two crew members had been present, monitoring it.

"This is why crew members are always present and monitor the disembarking process.

"No passengers were injured and they were able to safely disembark once the issue was rectified," she said.

Eye-witness Vanessa Reynolds said she had been waiting to disembark just behind the woman and her young family and had watched in horror as the gangway started to slip.

"It was seconds close to being very, very nasty," she said.

"I think Fullers do a pretty good job. It's just that, in this case, they slipped up on safety."

Reynolds said the family had been lucky to have made it safely onto the wharf.

 - Stuff

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