The salvage operation to retrieve the Kestrel has started today.

Work is underway to raise the historic ferry from where it sank at its berth at Wynyard wharf overnight Monday.

Those behind efforts to restore the iconic Auckland ferry hope to get a better picture in coming days as to why the historic vessel sank so quickly and if it can be restored.

The Kestrel Preservation Society committee member Hugh Gladwell said a crane had started lifting sections of the wooden vessel that had become detached when it sank and were now floating in the water.


"They're lifting part of the upper deck and cabin top from the boat which has become detached."

He said the hull was sitting on the harbour floor.

Salvors would attempt to raise it to water level and then pump out water.

This would give divers the chance to inspect the damage and the possibility of patching holes.

Mr Gladwell said mystery still surrounded why the historic vessel sunk so quickly.
The ferry, berthed in downtown Auckland awaiting restoration, was fitted out with bilge pumps and monitored alarms.

These did not go off when the ferry sank which indicated it happened very quickly.
"We expect the divers will be able to find out if the damage to the boat resulted in its sinking," Mr Gladwell said.

"We'll be in a better position in the next day or two to know about the boat's future."
He said a decision would be made with the insurers Vero once the cause was known.

"There hasn't been a great deal of information given to us by the insurance assessors," he said.

Divers were back in the water today inspecting the hull but everyone would have a clearer idea of the scale of damage and what repairs were needed when the hull was raised, said Mr Gladwell.

The operation could take up several weeks to clear the wreckage of the vessel from its mooring at the downtown Auckland wharf.