Ferry woes delay passengers

Delayed passengers, many of them international tourists, booked on Strait Shipping's two Cook Strait ferries were the latest to be affected by Interislander's ferry woes this morning. 

The Santa Regina was supposed to sail from Wellington to Picton at 8am today but was at least an hour late getting away.

It was a similar story for passengers booked on the Straitsman, which was to have sailed from Picton to Wellington at 8am.

The reason for the delays to Strait Shipping's timetable is that the Interislander line has had just one of its three ferries, the Aratere, operating in Cook Strait for the past two days.

The Kaitaki had been out of action since early Tuesday with a propeller shaft problem, and the Arahura is in dry dock in Auckland for routine maintenance work.

However, the Kaitaki sailed for Picton on a freight-only return sailing about 9.45am today.

Bemused passengers, many of them international tourists, had no idea what was causing their delays this morning.

Interislander spokesman Michael Flyger said the company was confident of having the Kaitaki back on its scheduled Cook Strait roster at 8pm.

Interislander's latest problems occurred when the Kaitaki suffered a coupling failure on a propeller shaft generator.

Problems became apparent in Wellington Harbour on Monday when the ship appeared to lose power about 9.30pm off Point Halswell while sailing from Wellington to Picton.

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Temporary repairs appeared to have been made, and the Kaitaki then sailed to Picton and returned to Wellington early on Tuesday.

The ship's 8.45am and 8pm return sailings from Wellington were cancelled yesterday. The 8.45am return passenger sailing out of Wellington today was also cancelled.

The Aratere left Wellington for Picton at 7.39am today, meaning it would be an hour behind its scheduled 10.45am departure from Picton to Wellington.

 - Dominion Post


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