Boating mishap prompts warning

TANIA BUTTERFIELD
Last updated 07:34 16/02/2012

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The acting Marlborough District Harbourmaster says boaties in trouble should call emergency services for help in the first instance.

The advice comes after an Auckland man got into trouble yesterday morning when his 13.4-metre steel powerboat hit a rock in Waterfall Bay.

Acting harbourmaster Dave Hoskins said emergency services heard about the incident second-hand. Mr Hoskins believed a friend of the man notified Kenny Barging, which in turn notified the harbourmaster.

A team from the harbourmaster's office attended the incident about 7.30am and an hour later called Coastguard Marlborough and the Picton Volunteer Fire Brigade to help pump water from the boat.

The owner of the launch, called Windhaven, was the only person on board, Mr Hoskins said.

"I do have one concern about it. We all found out about it second-hand.

"If he had put in an emergency call via radio or phoned 111 we would have been able to get assistance to him a lot quicker.

"He is believed to have hit the rock close to shore and then managed to get alongside a nearby jetty, Mr Hoskins said.

"It was lucky he was very close to shore. It was low tide and the reason he didn't sink was because the vessel went aground alongside the jetty.

"If he had been further out and hadn't made the emergency call the vessel could have sunk."

The boat's engine room was completely flooded, Mr Hoskins said.

Picton fire chief Wayne Wytenburg said he understood 8000 to 10,000 litres of water was pumped from the boat.

The echo sounder at the bottom of the boat was destroyed when the boat hit the rock and water poured through the hole that was left, he said.

Mr Hoskins said the boat was temporarily repaired and towed back to Picton by Kenny Barging.

He did not know exactly how the boat hit the rock, but the harbourmaster's office would be investigating, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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