Ferry back in business tonight

Last updated 17:11 28/05/2013
Interislander
FAIRFAX NZ

BACK IN ACTION: Interislander's Kaitaki ferry.

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The Interislander ferry Kaitaki should sail this evening after a steering problem was repaired, but a final call now depends on the weather.

The Kaitaki suffered a ''steering gear fault'' this morning, KiwiRail spokeswoman Sophie Lee said.

This evening she said the fault had been fixed.

The ferry should make its next sailing at 9pm, though a final call depended on weather conditions in Cook Strait.

Strong winds have been battering the area all day.

The 8.15am Wellington to Picton sailing, and the return sailing at 1.05pm had been cancelled with passengers transferred to later sailings on the Arahura.

Two-hundred-and-fifty passengers were booked on the Wellington to Picton sailing, with 200 booked on the return sailing 

Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said the fault was with the starboard steering gear and meant the ship could not be steered by hand at small angles, of about five degrees.

It did though work at higher angles.

''If the weather forecast had been better it is unlikely to have stopped us from sailing but given the storm conditions forecast it is not prudent to go out unless this fault is known to be fixed.''

Technicians and ship staff were today trying to identify and repair the problem.

It was hoped the ship would be repaired today, he said.

''The cause is unknown. The ship did not strike anything - the fault is with the control systems and not thought to be a mechanical or damage issue.''

The Kaitaki’s later sailings today are not yet cancelled.

The Dominion Post yesterday reported another ferry, the Aratere, was possibly going to dry dock in Brisbane later this year to repair an ongoing problem with its starboard stabiliser.

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- The Dominion Post

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