The ship, which ran aground a year ago, had moved position on the reef in recent weeks and was already jutting out into the channel. Islanders were concerned that the vessel could move even further, effectively blocking access to the wharf. Their fears have now been realised.
Sources on Nassau confirmed the boat had shifted this week and was now completely inside the passage. CINews understands that it is possible, but risky, to navigate small boats around her as she floats in the channel.
Tapi Taio, owner of Taio Shipping, said the boat moved after a rope that had been holding it in place was cut.
“They thought she was going to go off the reef because of the waves, so they chopped the rope,” he said. “But now she is sitting inside.”
But Taio insisted that there was no danger of the Moana Nui sinking in her current position as the passage is only 3.5m deep and the boat is drafting 3.2m. However, he admitted heavy seas could smash her against the sides of the passage and cause more damage to the vessel and potentially the harbour.
He said once the bad weather passed it would be possible for locals to pull the vessel to the wharf, where she could be secured.
The decision has already been taken to scrap the Moana Nui, and Taio said that the current situation could make that process simpler.
“Now she is sitting in the ‘swimming pool’ so it is easier for us,” he said. “We cannot salvage her, so we are going to cut her up or take her out to sea.”
Another Taio Shipping boat, Lady Moana, is due to leave Rarotonga for Nassau and should arrive there in the next couple of weeks.
Experts will be on board to assess the situation and decide how the boat should be disposed of.
The bad weather that has affected the northern group islands is coming from one of three weather systems that currently pose a threat to the Cook Islands, and there is a possibility that a cyclone could threaten the country next week.
A tropical depression that was identified north of Vanuatu earlier this week is now moving east.
The Fiji Meteorological Office says the potential for this system to develop into a tropical cyclone before Saturday February 10, is moderate to high.
The system is expected to be over Samoa by the weekend and Arona Ngari of the Cook Islands Met Office said that it could “pose a threat” to the Cook Islands by midweek next week if it does intensify.
Meanwhile, boats in Avatiu Harbour remain on alert for an evacuation notice as another weather system to the west of Rarotonga brings sea swells and winds from the north.
Waves of up to five metres have been predicted for the weekend.
Ngari said the bad weather in the north was caused by a non-cyclonic low pressure system currently stretching from Fiji to French Polynesia.