Contractors remove stricken vessels

By Peter de Graaf, Imran Ali

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A digger, owned by Lawson Cartage, carries the engine from the stricken yacht P.Lee Can on to a truck on Ruakaka Beach. Photo / John Stone
A digger, owned by Lawson Cartage, carries the engine from the stricken yacht P.Lee Can on to a truck on Ruakaka Beach. Photo / John Stone

All but the last few pieces of debris from a fishing boat that sank in the Bay of Islands and a yacht that ran aground off Ruakaka have been salvaged.

Jan, a 16m longliner, hit rocks off Howe Pt on the Purerua Peninsula about 4am on Monday.

The three men on board were rescued by Bay of Islands Coastguard with assistance from the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter.

Debris from the wrecked fishing boat is removed by barge. Photo / John Stone
Debris from the wrecked fishing boat is removed by barge. Photo / John Stone

An attempt on Monday to salvage the boat, which was wedged into rocks at the entrance to a sea cave, was unsuccessful, so contractors returned on Tuesday with a crane, two barges and divers.

The boat was removed in pieces on Tuesday and barged to nearby Whale Bay, then trucked to a yard for inspection by Maritime New Zealand, which is investigating the sinking.

Northland harbourmaster Jim Lyle said the last floating debris, including fish bins, had been collected on Wednesday.

All that remained was some heavy debris such as steel tanks and a winch on the seabed. They would be removed as soon as conditions were suitable.

Meanwhile, in Ruakaka, the first attempt at cutting up the P.Lee Can on Wednesday morning using a 20-ton digger and a truck failed but contractors, Lawson Cartage, returned to the beach that afternoon.

Company director Ann Lawson said her workers cut a hole in the yacht's hull using a concrete saw and retrieved its engine and gearbox.

"We cut up a lot of it at low tide [Wednesday] and early [yesterday] morning. I'd say most of it will be gone by the end of [yesterday]," she said.

Five workers were yesterday retrieving the yacht's stainless-steel rigging and timber.

She expected the entire salvage work to be completed by the end of this week.

The Northland Regional Council will pay the contractor an estimated $7000 before sending an invoice to yacht owner Geoff Phillips and his wife Ayla to reimburse the amount. The P.Lee Can, registered in Southport, Australia, ran aground on the beach about 11am on December 26.

- Northern Advocate

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