Arahura hits wharf, Aratere misses sailing

Bad day for Interislander sailings

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 11:05 16/07/2014
ferry stand
PRANG: Webcam pic shows the ferry Arahura after it hit a Wellington wharf this morning.

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Cook Strait ferry Arahura hit the wharf at its Wellington terminal this morning as it attempted to berth in gale force southerlies gusting up to 66 kph. 

Interislander PR Michael Flyger said the Arahura captain denied he had hit the wharf while berthing at the Wellington terminal this morning. 

However, a witness told the Dominion Post Arahura hit the wharf on the port side on its first attempt to reverse in to its Wellington terminal rail ferry dock.

"It then went back out and successfully made it back in to the dock on its second attempt.

"It was like looking at the Huka Falls... as the ship went back out again after hitting the wharf and churning up the water," said the witness, who requested anonymity.

It was not immediately known if the ferry did any damage to the ship or the wharf in the mishap.

Meanwhile, troubled Interislander ferry Aratere will miss a return sailing between Wellington and Picton today - just one day after resuming its full passenger and freight schedule service across Cook Strait.

It lost a propeller on the Cook Strait run on November 5 last year.

The ferry returned from a three month refurbishment in Singapore earlier this month and returned to its three return sailings a day schedule on Tuesday, leaving Wellington at 6.45am, 2.45pm, and 10.45pm.

When the ferry berthed in Wellington about 7.15am this morning, 30 minutes after it had been due to sail to Picton from Wellington, the company posted a notice on its website saying the 10.45am sailing from Picton to Wellington had been cancelled.

The 6.45am sailing from Wellington to Picton was also cancelled.

Since Aratere returned to its three-sailings-a-day schedule yesterday - after the propeller fell off on a routine sailing on November 5 last year - crew members said the ferry was taking longer to make the Cook Strait crossing. 

"To prevent these small delays from accumulating, the decision was made to cancel today's 6:45 am sailing (16 July)," said Flyger.

"All freight and passengers scheduled for this service have been contacted and were accommodated on either the Arahura or Kaitaki morning sailings.

"Aratere will resume at 2.45 this afternoon, and we will continue to monitor her performance closely," Flyer said.

Flyger confirmed Aratere had run 15 minutes slower per crossing over the past two days, in comparison to the three hours it routinely took prior to the starboard propeller falling off on November 5 last year.

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"Given this is only her second full day of operations (since its major Singapore refurbishment this year), Interislander is continuing to work on timetable options, given the impact on time performance and capacity for the various markets," Flyger said.

 There remained plenty of capacity to accommodate the requirements of both rail and road freight and passengers using Aratere, Arahura and Kaitaki. Interislander was working through its timetables in order to do this most effectively.

 "Aratere's larger rail capacity will continue to be utilised on the key 1445 and 2245 sailings from Wellington to Picton, in order to meet the requirements of the Auckland to Christchurch rail freight run as well as passenger demand," Flyger said.

 

- The Dominion Post

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