Rena lifeboat auction launched

By Jamie Morton, Carly Gibbs

With some imagination and modifications you could use it as a maimai, houseboat, playground attraction or a disaster evacuation pod.

As an auction item, those are some of the creative ways in which a fibreglass lifeboat is being pitched on Trade Me.

And it's the stencil emblazoned on the side of this boat - "Rena Monrovia" - that's expected to add a little market value.

The 7.5m-long craft, one of two taken from the container ship grounded off the Bay of Plenty coast, has been donated to the Child Cancer Foundation by the Rena's owners to be auctioned on Trade Me over the next fortnight.

The foundation's local fundraising and business development manager, Delwynne Hahunga, said the unique auction item had attracted hundreds of views on Trade Me. "As far as I'm aware we've never had anything like it [to auction] before. It's an amazing piece of history really, isn't it? It'll be interesting to see who picks up on this."

She said the donation was a "wonderful silver lining" from the Rena disaster.

Port of Tauranga worker Moss Carlin, who became a stalwart of the charity after his teenage daughter Victoria was diagnosed with cancer, could not help but think of a fundraising opportunity when seeing the two lifeboats moored at the port every day.

"I'd see the two of them sitting up there and I just knew there was a use for them somewhere."

He eventually worked up the mettle to ask New Zealand Marshalling and Stevedoring owner Brian Shee to broker an arrangement with their owners, the Daina Shipping Company, and the deal was done.

Although Mr Carlin hadn't set the auction reserve for the boat, his inquiries around the world found similar craft had been valued at between $10,000 and $38,000.

Bids start at $15,000 and the auction closes on May 25.

Capable of holding 40 people, the boat comes complete with a 45hp engine, valued at $40,000, ropes, hooks, oars, fire extinguishers and emergency food rations. A speed boat it isn't - the three-tonne craft's purpose as a lifepod for high seas meant handling wasn't a big consideration - but Mr Carlin believed the options were endless.

"It's not an open boat and is a bit restrictive, but it could make a houseboat quite readily if you took out a few walls. Otherwise, it's a great evacuation pod and and it's all good fun.

"If anybody wanted to take it out for a beer, we've had a couple of trips already with friends, and the kids would love having a drive."

The other boat will go to Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's Maritime Fishing Programme for use in training.

Meanwhile, Maritime New Zealand was holding an auction to sell off volunteer equipment from the Rena clean up. The auction, for which a date and venue were yet to be confirmed, would see everything from garden gear to protective gear, tables, desks, gumboots, shovels and a quad bike, auctioned off. Maritime New Zealand spokesperson James Sygrove said proceeds would go to Maritime New Zealand's oil spill fund.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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