Water taxi skipper: Crash wasn't my fault

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 12:16 24/05/2013
Boat
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ

DAMAGED: The water taxi that collided with the catamaran Serenity.

Boat
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
PUNCTURED: The catamaran Serenity, pictured moored with a hole above its waterline.

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One of Auckland's more experienced boat operators is getting his face stitched up after a harbour collision with a ferry this morning in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

Bill Anderson's eight metre long fibreglass Auckland Water Taxis punched into the starboard side of the West Harbour ferry, the 40-metre long Serenity with 46 people aboard, just after 8am today.

Anderson was the sole injury in the crash.

"I am a little bit mangled at the moment," he said from his Auckland Hospital bed awaiting stitching.

"There are a couple of broken bones in my face and a reasonable cut."

He said he was leaving the Viaduct in bright and calm conditions and moving out to sea along Princesses Wharf, which was then in shadow, while Serenity was coming in to dock at the ferry terminal.

"My view of what happened was he is coming from the wrong side, he was the give way vessel, according to collision regulations," Anderson, 66, said.

"In defence of him, I just got a sun strike right at that point he came across my bow and so basically the first I saw of him was a lump of boat right in front of me.

"I was doing about 12 or 13 knots (22-24 kmh) and he was doing 20 odd (37 kmh), so it was a good whack.

"My bow went through him leaving a large triangular hole."

Anderson, who has operated boats around the world for 46 years, says the international regulations to prevent collisions at sea were clear.

"He was coming off my port, or on to my port, and my obligation under that is to maintain my speed and direction, and his obligation is to give way."

Anderson said there was no risk of sinking as the damage to both boats was above the waterline.

He said as they came to a stop he was bleeding.

"I was a little bit stunned mullet for a wee while," he said.

People on Serenity came to his aid before moving to the dock where he was picked up by an ambulance.

Belaire Ferries Ltd managing director Adam Tallentire said his ferry was on its 7.40 am run from West Harbour with 44 passengers and two crew.

He said he had yet to work out what had happened and was assisting with the Maritime New Zealand investigation. MNZ has impounded both boats.

Tallentire said there were no injuries on Serenity.

"Obviously these things should not happen, full stop," he said.

"We need to find out how it happened and why it happened."

Tallentire said he had spoken with Anderson.

"He was quite shaken up, but he was able to have a conversation and while he is injured, it could have been worse and we are grateful it wasn't," he said.

Both companies had other vessels to keep services going.

Marine traffic tracking software shows the ferry passing under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and turning towards the ferry terminal, and while it does not show the actual collision, it records Serenity coming to a stop alongside the large Chinese satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 6.

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