The owners of an almost century-old schooner that ran aground off the North Canterbury coast on Sunday have decided to deconstruct it piece by piece.
The Tuhoe was returning to its berth in the Kaiapoi River after more than $200,000 of repairs in Lyttelton, when it got stuck at the mouth of the Waimakariri River.
The decision was made this morning after a meeting with a salvage crew and the insurers of the vessel, which a marine inspector had earlier declared as unsalvageable.
Tuhoe Kaiapoi Riverton Trust chairman Philip Redmond said the decision was heartbreaking as the repairs were funded by local donations.
"A lot of hard work and donated money has gone into the boat over the years so it was not an easy decision to make, but we are hoping we can save the wheelhouse masts."
An unsuccessful attempt was made to tow the Tuhoe yesterday, but because the ship had split about two-thirds of the way towards the stern, and was taking on water, it was felt that it was too risky to continue.
Regional harbour master Jim Dilley is overseeing the deconstruction, and he said preliminary work had already started.
"Today we are trying to take off everything we can especially things like the whistle and the Tuhoe signs.
"To take the whole boat apart will take about a week, as it is made up of 300 tonnes of timber," Mr Dilley said.
He could understand why people looking at the boat from afar thought it should be refloated.
"People are asking why we can't save it, from the other side of the river mouth it looks fine, but when you get closer the damage is obvious.
"The boat has pretty much bent in half, the beams on the inside are all buckled, it is just a big soggy mess."
Plenty of people came to take a final look at the boat today. One of them was old deck hand John Dungey.
"I started as a deck boy in the 1950s, we used to bring groceries from the North Island down to Christchurch, the trip would take about a week."
Christchurch resident Peter Nelson said it is sad to see the historical vessel stranded.
"I've been on the boat up and down the river a few times, it was wonderful but it sounds like the experts have made the right decision."
Radio New Zealand's reporter at the scene today said the boat had become quite an attraction with a few hundred people gathering at the river mouth to view proceedings.