Jet boats strike trouble on Wairaurahiri River

SHIRLEY WHYTE IN TUATAPERE
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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Two boats have come to grief in Fiordland in the past week.

Terry Mackintosh, of Nightcaps, said his 5-metre Designer Jet, built in 2005, sank in the Wairaurahiri River on Thursday evening.

"We had tied the boat up to a tree in the Rock Garden while we went deer stalking. When we returned somehow the rope had broken and the boat was gone along with all our gear that included four rifles, camping and fishing gear, clothes, tents, we lost everything," he said

"I always thought that if I ever sank my boat it would be because I had gone somewhere I shouldn't have gone, not because it broke its moorings."

Wairaurahiri River operator Johan Groters said he spotted the upside down boat on the bottom of the Wairaurahiri River.

"The boat had rolled several times going through the worst part of the river in particularly high flow. It took us all day with 15 purchase points off trees using an endless chain to move it. We managed to get the boat close to the shore, bale it out before towing it across Lake Hauroko to the jetty.

"I have pulled out 12 boats from the Wairaurahiri River in the last 15 years, all for different reasons. The safe and best way to navigate the Wairaurahiri River is in a boat with twin engines," Mr Groters said.

Helicopter Line pilot Dale Green said he flew out a jet boat on a long line after it had engine trouble on Friday evening.

"The four men in the boat had gone down the Wairaurahiri River and out to sea when their engine failed. They all had wetsuits and lifejackets on, the boat drifted into the shore and the men were able to walk to the Waitutu Hut about 1 kilometre away, so all went smoothly," Mr Green said.

Environment Southland deputy harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver said boat owners should check the weather conditions, get a mechanical service on their vessel's motors and check that their battery was good to go before launching their boats after being in dry dock for the winter months.

"It's very important that boat owners get all systems checked and make necessary repairs if required," Mr Cleaver said.

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- The Southland Times

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