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Wairau finally free from reef

Friday January 22, 2016 Written by Published in Local
A rescue attempt at high tide on Tuesday evening involved the police patrol boat Te Kukupa and the Cook Islands Towage tug boat Tiro, but was unsuccessful. 16012007 A rescue attempt at high tide on Tuesday evening involved the police patrol boat Te Kukupa and the Cook Islands Towage tug boat Tiro, but was unsuccessful. 16012007

Tireless efforts by rescuers saw the stranded longliner Wairau rescued from the reef at Betela yesterday afternoon.

 

The vessel, operated by Ocean Fresh, went aground early on Tuesday morning, sparking a frantic salvage operation.

When CI News went to print yesterday afternoon a T&M Heather excavator and other machinery had freed the boat from the reef with the assistance of the Cook Islands Towage tug boat Tiro. At about 2.15pm, CI News was told the ship was upright and the crew was running the engine.

Police said Cook Islands Towage tug boat Tua with assistance from Te Kukupa had failed in efforts on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to tow the 19 metre boat off the reef.

National Enviroment Service director Joseph Brider said a meeting of the Aronga Mana of the area and government officials had been held yesterday morning to explore various options for removing the vessel.

It was decided using the machinery was the best option, and Brider said as it was an emergency situation, no permit was required.

“A permit wasn’t necessary as the boat was damaging the reef and had become stranded due to the cyclone. This (same rescue effort) has been done in the past.”

Police gave no indication as to whether an investigation into the incident would be conducted. Five crew members were on board when the vessel went aground sometime early on Tuesday morning.The crew and helpers spent most of Tuesday braving rain and heavy seas to offload the Wairau’s cargo of fish, which was transported to Avarua. While police said the hold had contained less than a ton of fish, other reports put the figure at three tons.

Ocean Fresh owner Bill Doherty did not respond to requests for information.

For many island residents, the stranding brought back memories of when Taio Shipping Company’s vessel Ana was lodged on the reef in Panama in 2008.

After several attempts at shifting the boat it was decided that building a causeway was the simplest and cheapest method of getting the Ana off the reef, at a cost of around $50,000.

Using a traxcavator, excavator, and road roller, a T&M Heather crew used the existing coral beachfront to construct the road about 80 metres out to the Ana.  Gravel was then compacted on top of the causeway.   

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