A NINE-TONNE ketch was successfully moved from the beach below Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park to a safer stretch of sand this week.
The environmental salvage operation on Wednesday came after the vessel ran aground while crossing the bar in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council pollution prevention officer Jessica Hunter-Smith said it was not possible to re-float the stricken boat due to the damaged hull and the council’s first priority was the environment.
Attempts to re-float the boat the day before had been unsuccessful, with senior maritime officer Joe Burke saying large cracks between the planks at the bow had turned the ketch into a sieve.
“When the tide came in [on Tuesday], the boat filled with water. When the tide ran out, the water inside the boat ran out as well,” he said. “If we tow the boat out into the water it will sink like a rock.”
With the weather expected to turn northeast and strong, the regional council opted to remove the boat. If it broke apart in its original position, Ohiwa Harbour could be adversely affected.
The council’s marine team pumped about 400 litres of diesel from the ketch and removed other oils.
Waiotahi Contractors then looped slings beneath the boat and, using a large excavator, lifted the boat clear of the sand and transported it further down the beach.
The female owner had no comment to make about the stranding, but one of her crew members, who did not want to be named, said they had tried to sail in to Ohiwa Harbour at 1am.
“It was really dark and we did not hear the breakers until it was too late,” he said.
“I tried to turn, but I should probably have gone astern instead.”
Ms Hunter-Smith said the boat was uninsured and Mr Burke said the female owner had told the regional council to “do what was necessary, as she did not want to be the cause of any environmental pollution”.
“She is absolutely heartbroken,” Mr Burke said.
Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park visitor Dave Carter said the boat went aground at the spot where he was fishing, a section of beach at right angle from the camp.
“Camp owner Todd Morgan on Tuesday he used a kayak to paddle a line out to a trawler out at sea,” he said.
“But when the trawler started pulling the rope broke.”
Ohiwa resident Meg Collins said she had never heard of a boat trying to cross the bar into the harbour at night before.
“It’s just too dangerous,” she said.
Ohiwa Holiday Park founder Phil Morgan said the area has seen its fair share of boat strandings during the years.
“Sometimes, the crews have managed to jump into the water and push their boat to safety,” he said.
“For a while, we had a dog-leg sand bar that snaked east outside the harbour and that confused a lot of people. The strandings lessened when that disappeared.”