Boulder Bank boatbuilder blown away

GONE WITH THE WIND: The damaged house boat structure near Boulder Bank Drive.
GONE WITH THE WIND: The damaged house boat structure near Boulder Bank Drive.

Strong winds have brought a fresh headache for Nelson Haven’s houseboat builder, nearly wrecking his makeshift new home.

The houseboat was pushed up the Haven by Friday night’s tide and has since been sitting about 100m from Boulder Bank Drive. 

This morning it was much the worse for wear. It appears that the wind and tide combined to lift the superstructure and drop it on the hull of the old wooden launch that had been placed underneath to help support it.

The hull has been crushed, and wreckage was strewn along the edge of Boulder Bank Drive.

High tide at 1.30pm today will test whether the houseboat can still float on the uplift provided by the drums that owner Paul Jepson has lashed to the frame.

Mr Jepson constructed the houseboat on four piles he drove into the Boulder Bank last year, drawing the ire of the authorities, who demanded its removal.

He then chopped the top off the old launch and tied it underneath before cutting the structure free and mooring it further up the Haven, where it floated in about a metre of water at high tide.

He has resisted attempts to talk to him directly but through a friend told the Nelson Mail that he had no job and no money and wanted to live quietly away from town. He has fitted the houseboat with a bed, a wood stove and a rainwater collection system.

Harbourmaster Dave Duncan earlier said that now Mr Jepson’s creation was floating, he did not plan further action provided it wasn’t a source of pollution and that it didn’t become a neglected wreck.

He learned of the damage this morning and said he would decide if he needed to step in once he had inspected it.