'Labour of love' launched

20:22, Feb 26 2013
Leigh Colling
Skipper Leigh Colling sits on his boat, the Evander, which he refloated yesterday, almost three years after it sank in Riverton.

Lynley Colling had more reason than most to cheer when her husband's recreational fishing boat Evander was relaunched in Riverton yesterday, almost three years after it sank in the town's harbour.

Mrs Colling was among the family and friends who applauded as her husband Leigh Colling refloated his "labour of love" after effectively rebuilding the boat.

Mr Colling was beaming with pride as he started up the engine.

It had taken almost two years to rebuild it and during that time his wife Lynley had barely seen him, he said.

"I am just elated to have it back on the water, I missed it terribly. I didn't think it would ever be finished," he said.

On February 28, 2010, the 9-metre boat sank at its berth and was reported to have 500 litres of diesel on board at the time.


A team of Environment Southland staff put a boom in place to block the fuel from spreading in the estuary.

Riverton divers also plugged the boat's fuel vents to stop further leakage.

Mr Colling, a hobby farmer, said the boat sank because a tsunami tide had broken a rope and the back of the boat went under the wharf as the tide rose.

Several days later, Riverton fishermen refloated the boat for him, putting sand bags underneath, while the Riverton Fire Service pumped the water out.

It was a community effort, he said

"We have a great community here. When the chips were down and I really needed help, they were there."

He did not start fixing the boat until about one year after the sinking.

"I had to get permission from the wife first and once I started she had to drag me inside for meals," he said.

Everything in the boat had been destroyed and the vessel was basically rebuilt, he said.

Professional ship builders had repaired two holes in its hull and he had bought new parts to finish it himself.

Mr Colling said he planned to take the boat to Stewart Island next month to collect oysters, fish for blue cod and camp. He used to travel to the island every year.

The Southland Times