Whangaroa volunteers rally to sailor's plight
By Peter de Graaf | Saturday, August 4, 2012 6:00
PLAN HATCHED: Taramea owner Rob Clarke (left) Ivan Needham and Mark Giles improvise a patch and seal for the stricken boat.
PETER DE GRAAF
A Northland boatie whose pride and joy ran aground and sank on his first outing is overwhelmed by the kindness of Whangaroa's boating community.
Rob Clarke bought a 65-year-old kauri fishing boat and was taking it from Auckland to his home at Kaimaumau, on the Rangaunu Harbour north of Kaitaia, when disaster struck in last weekend's wild weather. He took shelter in the Matangirau arm of Whangaroa Harbour but the anchor dragged in the night, leaving him stuck fast on the shore at 4.20am on Sunday with a metre-long gash in the hull.
Mr Clarke, a young crewman and a dog were rescued by Whangaroa Coastguard and a fisherman known only as Bill after their situation worsened suddenly on Sunday afternoon and they were forced to make a mayday call.
The two men and the dog were unharmed, but left with a damaged boat stuck in an isolated bay.
Named Taramea, the boat was was originally used for fishing in the deep south. Mr Clarke had planned to do it up and eventually live on board.
Since Sunday a small group of volunteers has been working to salvage Taramea. As of yesterday a commercial fisherman, Mark Giles, had given up five days of his time to help out while refusing payment; he has been joined by Whangaroa boatie Ivan "The Terrible" Needham and other locals.
Between them, Mr Giles' fishing boat Destiny and Mr Needham's 16-metre yacht Masada managed to pull Taramea off the sand and tow it, partly submerged, to the boat ramp at Whangaroa.
By Wednesday evening Taramea was on the mud near the boat ramp, but with only the tip of its mast above water.
Unable to shift it any further, Mr Giles went door knocking around Kaeo in the hope of borrowing a winch. Instead Martin "Mooch" Rudolph, of Mooch Transport, offered his digger and his time without charge, and Kaeo Transport loaned a low-loader to get it to Whangaroa.
On Thursday morning a Coastguard volunteer diver got a rope around the stricken boat so Mr Rudolph could drag it up the beach and flip it over so the gash was above water.
It was then a race against the tide as Mr Clarke fashioned a makeshift patch and seal to make the hull watertight.
The plan was then to drag the boat further up the beach on the incoming tide, set it upright and start pumping it out.
Mr Clarke, stoic despite the heartbreaking end to his maiden trip, said he owed his helpers "huge thanks".
"I'd love them to be recognised for what they've done. It's not just my case, it's a regular thing. Mark has given up five days' work and says he doesn't want to be paid. He's done everything, from conceiving the idea and fielding scepticism to getting materials and running his boat around."
Mr Rudolph said helping out was merely his "good deed for the day" while Mr Needham, who lives on his yacht, said he hated to see a boat in such an unhappy predicament.