A Kerikeri man spent a year looking for his family's dream boat - only to watch it burn to the waterline two months later.
Yesterday's blaze destroyed an 8.5m Sea Ray launch that had been moored just off the Rangitane boat ramp.
Its owner, who did not wish to be named, was at home nearby when he saw smoke coming from the boat about 10.35am and raised the alarm.
The Kerikeri Fire Brigade responded with two fire engines and a tanker but could do little to save the boat, with the remains dragged on to the beach for a fire safety investigator and insurance assessor to look at.
Deputy fire chief Greg Imms said the launch was too far offshore for hoses to reach and an attempt to take firefighting equipment out in borrowed dinghies was unsuccessful. In any case, the boat was burning to the waterline when firefighters arrived.
When it appeared the mooring rope was about to burn through and the breeze would push the boat into a bank thick with dry bamboo and with homes nearby, the owner and a firefighter rowed out to cut the rope and pull the still blazing wreckage towards the beach.
The owner said he had spent a year searching for his dream boat for family outings in the Bay of Islands. He finally found the fibreglass Sea Ray in Auckland two months ago and had been out on it almost every weekend since.
Yesterday morning he had prepared the boat for another outing with his family which was to have started today. The hardest part was going to be telling his children they had lost all their belongings which had been on board, he said.
An insurance assessor and a fire investigator were yesterday scouring what remained of the launch for clues as to the cause of the blaze. The fire was not thought to be suspicious.