An abandoned boat that proved a thorn in the side of both Gisborne District Council and the police has finally been removed from a remote East Coast beach – six months after it washed ashore.
However the owner remained elusive, meaning the council has been left with an invoice of over $10,000 for the clean-up.
On 9 April, the former fishing trawler San Rosa was abandoned at sea after its three crew members were winched to safety by helicopter.
For six days, the 18-metre vessel drifted at sea before washing up on a remote section of coast near Tikitiki, about two hours north of Gisborne.
The boat was recently purchased in Tauranga, and was just two days into its maiden voyage with its new owners when it ran into difficulty.
Local Democracy Reporting understands it was en route to the Marlborough region.
The council confirmed the vessel was removed from the beach in mid-October, with harbourmaster Peter Buell calling it “a very sad ending for a beautiful little boat”.
The final invoice came in at $11,732, which the council would attempt to recover from the owner.
That has proved to be a difficult task however, with Buell saying numerous calls and messages had rendered no outcome.
Both police and the council held little hope the owner would be reachable.
Information obtained under the Official Information Act revealed what led to the crew abandoning ship on 9 April, ahead of tropical cyclone Fili.
According to communication logs between Maritime New Zealand and the vessel, the San Rosa sent out a mayday at 6.25am that morning saying they had lost power.
About half an hour after the call, a person on board told Maritime Operations Centre he was inexperienced and advised them that the wind was picking up, but couldn’t explain its speed or direction.
The boat was drifting by this point and the crew had requested to be towed.
At 9.25am, the sea was becoming increasingly rough and a crew member was injured after being hit in the face by a swinging rope.
At 11am, the crew became fearful the boat might roll. A dinghy was prepared and the anchor was cut for fear it would tear off the back of the boat.
At 12.45pm, the crew requested immediate evacuation and a helicopter pulled them off the boat soon afterwards, returning them to Gisborne.
Little was known about San Rosa at the time it first made headlines, but Local Democracy Reporting was contacted by an
Auckland resident who provided further background information.
Kerron Morris, 73, said the name of the boat piqued his interest when it made the news, because his uncle Bill Morris had skippered a boat of the same name in the 1960s. After hearing the boat’s specifications – 18 metres in length and 55 tonnes in
weight – he realised it was the same one his uncle had skippered.
Morris said he didn’t know a lot about the vessel, but believed it was built in Auckland. A small dish commemorating its creation indicates it was owned by an Auckland and Sydney-based company called Sandford Ltd, and first launched in 1955.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz