8 Mar 2016

111-year-old Auckland ferry 'a total loss'

3:41 pm on 8 March 2016

It seems there's no chance historic Auckland ferryThe Kestrel can be repaired after its sinking this morning.

Historic Auckland ferryThe Kestrel has sunk in its dock at Wynyard Wharf.

The Kestrel Preservation Society said it was a complete shock the 111-year-old ferry sank this morning in Auckland, and there was no chance it could be repaired.

Ferry travellers commuting to the city this morning could only see debris and the top of the iconic wooden vessel, which was launched in 1905.

The Kestrel had been docked at Wynyard Wharf for the last four years, but flooded overnight and was submerged early this morning.

Society member Hugh Gladwell said the ferry had been hauled out and repaired only a few years ago.

He said plans to fully restore it had now been ruined.

"We're viewing the boat as a total loss really, and we'll ask that the salvers retain any artefacts that could go into a museum but the prospect of rebuilding the boat at this stage is out of the question.

Historic Auckland Ferry The Kestrel sank at Wynyard Wharf this morning.

The Kestrel, sinking at Wynyard Wharf this morning. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Auckland councillor Chris Darby said his ferry had slowed down this morning to avoid floating debris.

He said he went to the stern and could see nothing but water where the Kestrel had once been docked.

It was a sad day for maritime history, and a tragic loss of one of the foundation vessels of ferry transport which several generations of Aucklanders would remember fondly, he said.

A short documentary recorded the berthing of the ferry, the last of its kind to still be afloat in the harbour, at the wharf in 2011.

It relates how a "small but passionate group of people" saved the ferry from ruin and returned it to Waitemata Harbour.

Ferry enthusiast and photographer Wayne Ward said he was "gutted" when he heard of the sinking.

Mr Ward helped put together a book called The Harbour Ferries of Auckland in 1986.

He said the vessel had outlived most of its kind.

He used to take a lot of photos of the ferry and knew its time would come, he said.

"When I woke up this morning I heard it on the 9 o'clock news, I just about cried. It's such a sad, sad thing to see."

Mr Ward said he had made his way out to the wharf as early as he could this morning to get one final look at the iconic ferry.