Boat grounded as wind and waves pound coast

TOM HUNT AND JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2014
Zephyrometer
FLAMINGAIM/Twitter
HIT: The Zephyrometer sculpture.

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Another damaging storm has Wellington south coasters licking their wounds.

The capital is looking forward to nicer weather this weekend in the wash-up to a southerly change that arrived on Thursday afternoon with hail, thunder, and lightning that shattered a 33-metre sculpture in Evans Bay.

Then there were powerful winds and a southerly swell that slammed into Wellington yesterday, causing a boat to break its mooring, road closures, and damage as the south coast was struck by 7m waves and strong winds.

The Island Bay community was out early yesterday securing local fishing boat Star of the Sea, which broke her mooring about 6am and was washed on to the shore, rising high on the beach as the tide peaked at 8.30am.

For Julian Hodge, of the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, it was a case of deja vu.

The centre's base is in the Island Bay Surf Club building on Island Bay beach, metres from where Star of the Sea washed up.

The centre suffered $30,000 damage and losses in a southerly storm last June that caved in a beach-front roller door.

That same door, since replaced and strengthened, was partly caved by yesterday's waves but this time damage was limited to the door and a clean-up operation as sand, seaweed, and other debris were strewn through the bottom floor.

"It's a monumental pain," Hodge said.

His sympathy was for the Star of the Sea owners.

"Let's keep it in context . . . these guys out here have a boat to deal with."

Debris across the road caused the closure of the coastal road between Island and Owhiro bays.

Vehicles were prevented from leaving the Lower Hutt suburb of Eastbourne from 7.30am till 8.50am yesterday as a king tide dumped debris on the road between Days Bay and Seaview.

The weather caused the cancellation of some Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour East by West ferries.

A lightning bolt on Thursday struck the Zephyrometer, a 33-metre concrete, fibreglass and steel sculpture in Evans Bay created by artist Phil Price.

Wellington City Council spokesman Clayton Anderson said what was left of the $150,000 sculpture was now horizontal and secured to concrete slabs until Price, who is cycling around the Isle of Man, could be contacted to make a decision about the next move.

The sculpture did not have a lightning conductor but Price had consulted engineers about safety and weather when it was installed.

There would be a discussion about whether a lightning conductor was needed on any future sculpture that replaced the needle, he said.

Wellington Sculpture Trust chair Sue Elliott said the replacement would not cost ratepayers because the Zephyrometer was insured.

MetService meteorologist John Law said the weather that hit Wellington was all part of the same southerly system, which would be replaced by a high pressure system today and tomorrow.

A few showers in Wellington were expected to clear about noon today while tomorrow would be mainly fine with the chance of a shower. The temperature was expected to reach 12C both days.

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- The Dominion Post

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