Pontoon floats away

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:22 15/10/2012
Salmon farm pontoon
Scott Hammond

Adrift: This salmon farm pontoon was afloat in Havelock Harbour overnight on Saturday.

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Heavy rain and flooding in Canvastown and Havelock caused a salmon farm pontoon moored in the Pelorus River to break free and float into the entrance of the Havelock marina.

The 40 metre by 40 metre salmon farm, owned by King Salmon, was not in use and was being dismantled for sale as scrap metal.

Havelock man Murray Sleeth said he saw the pontoon floating around in the main channel entrance to the marina at 7.15pm on Saturday.

He lost sight of it when it got dark and by 7am yesterday it had moved from the eastern side of the channel to the western side, he said.

"It's amazing it could just be floating around like that," he said.

"You don't expect to see one floating around the entrance to the marina with no-one on it or watching it."

It was fortunate there were not many people out on the water, Mr Sleeth said.

"Luckily it was a weekend and a crap night," he said.

The pontoon had no lights and was not visible once it was dark, he said.

"I wouldn't like to come across it at night."

King Salmon aquaculture general manager Mark Preece said the pontoon was on Twidles Island in the Pelorus River and it was washed off when the river rose after the heavy rain.

The pontoon did not make it into the channel, Mr Preece said.

He compared it to a tree falling into the river and said the situation was being managed.

The Marlborough harbourmaster had put out a navigation warning and the pontoon would have been visible by radar, he said.

Depending on the tide, the pontoon would be towed back to the island in the Pelorus River this morning. It would take two to three days to finish dismantling it, he said.

Havelock man John Humm said the pontoon ended up in front of his house on Rose St yesterday morning.

He did not believe the situation was dangerous.

"I don't think at any stage it was a hazard. It was monitored all night," Mr Humm said.

"It's a non-event. It was a big high river and it got flushed down the river. They put it up there to cut it up but didn't finish the job before the flood came."

Pelorus Boating Club commodore Michael Connolly was on the water on Saturday but left because of the weather.

"The river was rising like crazy, so we left about 1pm," he said.

He was not aware of the pontoon yesterday and said if anyone would be affected by a floating pontoon blocking the channel it would be the mussel farmers who rely on going out on a Sunday for Monday's production.

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- The Marlborough Express

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