Fire service refloats boat

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 11:07 05/12/2012
Jewel sinks
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
Te Anau volunteer fire officers Graeme Humpheries (top) and Rhys Jones work to save a sinking 1919 boat "Jewel" in the Te Anau boat harbour.

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The fire service was called into action to save the boat Jewel from sinking for the second time this year.

The nearly 100-year-old boat began to sink in the Te Anau boat harbour yesterday, nine months after getting into difficulty when being launched in Te Anau after a refit in Balclutha.

Station officer Graeme Moffat said it was unclear why the Jewel began sinking yesterday morning.

"The harbour master checked the boats on the lake on Sunday and the Jewel was fine," he said.

The fire service pumped out the water before refloating, Mr Moffat said.

The old wooden hull had been recorked last year but it appeared there was another leak.

Saving sinking boats was not uncommon for the Te Anau Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mr Moffat said.

"We've saved a few in my time here, maybe six or seven," he said.

"So it is something we encounter."

Te Anau harbour master Fred Inder said the quick actions of the fire brigade saved the Jewel from sinking.

"It would have been at the bottom before the day was out if it had not been noticed. There was a lot of water in the boat and the big pumps on the fire engines came in handy," he said.

The Jewel shareholder David Grant, of Balclutha, arrived in Te Anau yesterday afternoon to have a look at the boat, Mr Inder said.

"The owners replaced the floats for the bilge pumps hoping that was the problem, and they could not find any major leaks," Mr Inder said.

At this stage it was still a bit of a mystery why the Jewel was taking on water.

"On Sunday when I took a look around the harbour, she was as good as gold and the next day she was going under."

The boat was built about 1918 in Dunedin.

It was said to be the first privately owned, square-ended motor launch in Otago Harbour, Mr Grant said.

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- The Southland Times

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