Probe into boat evacuation

23:08, Feb 23 2014

Inquiries will begin today into an incident where 36 people, including children, were evacuated from a charter boat on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

The MV Dreamweaver began taking on water and emergency services were alerted at 1.48pm yesterday after the four crew on board noticed the problem and issued a distress signal via maritime radio.

It was on a dolphin trip at the time, Dreamweaver charters spokesperson Kirsty McPherson said.

"Our guests were all supportive of each other and crew, they remained calm and listened to all given instructions."

McPherson would not discuss what the specific problem was or how it came about, saying she would wait until the authorities had "assessed the boat and viewed the situation".

Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) spokesman Peter Northcote said there would be investigations into the incident with the hopes of preventing a similar incident in the future.

"We will be investigating the circumstances and causes."

He said inquiries would take place in Auckland from this afternoon.

Maritime NZ will also investigate the incident. A spokesperson said the agency would focus on whether all aspects of enforcement and compliance were met.

The police launch Deodar and Coastguard rescue vessels were sent to help the stricken catamaran which was in the Tiri Channel, off Whangaparaoa to the north of Auckland city, and return the passengers to Z Pier at Westhaven Marina.

A police spokesman said none of the rescued were injured although a number were suffering from sea sickness.

Ambulance staff assessed the passengers upon arrival at Westhaven marina in central Auckland and all were able to leave the scene without further treatment.

A Fire Service spokesman said the vessel, an 18m long luxury catamaran, had been towed back to Gulf Harbour marina at which stage there was an electrical fire in the engine.

The fire was thought to be minor but he was unsure of the extent of any damage.

Coastguard media spokeswoman Georgie Smith said the actions of the crew, who had stayed on the vessel while it was brought back to the marina, had been exemplary.

She said the day might not have ended up how the passengers would have liked but praised the efforts of the rescue crews.

According to the company website, the MV Dreamweaver is a "state-of-the art, purpose-built luxury charter catamaran, refitted specifically to enable corporate and private cruises of a standard not previously available in Auckland".

"The layout of the vessel is designed to provide the maximum on-the-water viewing experience without compromising comfort and safety and is superbly equipped for company meetings, multimedia presentations, networking or private occasion entertaining."