Lake mishap prompts call for warrant of fitness for boats

Members of two Queenstown families had a lucky escape when their 40-year-old motor boat started taking on water in Lake Wakatipu on Saturday, just a week after it was bought.
No-one was injured, but the incident prompted Queenstown Lakes District Council deputy harbourmaster Dave Black to call for all boats to be given a warrant of fitness.
Three adults and two children from two families were on board the unnamed 6m wooden outboard motor boat, in the shallows of Wilson Bay, about 9km from the centre of the resort, when water was spotted leaking inside the cabin, about lunchtime.
One of the adults opened the cupboard under the sink, which they thought was leaking, only to discover a crack in the hull.
Mr Black said yesterday the occupants took the right action by heading straight for shore and tying the boat to a private jetty between Sunshine Bay and Wilson Bay.
"Just when they got everyone off, the hull was under 1.5m of water.
"Had they been out in the water, it would have gone right under and they would have had to swim to shore.
"They did an exceptionally good job."
The occupants were wearing lifejackets.
The group notified the harbourmaster's office.
Mr Black and two emergency divers spent two to three hours patching the hull.
Mr Black said he believed the hull of the boat was "sub-standard".
He believed the boat was now with the original owner, who had offered to buy it back from the group of three sets of friends.
Charges would not be laid against the original owner.
"He wouldn't have sold it knowing it would fall to pieces.
"He's not that kind of person and he was quite horrified when he heard what had gone wrong with it," Mr Black said.
"The hull crack was hard to see and the boat may not have been used for a while.
"It wouldn't have been noticed until it was on the water for five or 10 minutes.
"It's a good case where boats should have a warrant of fitness.
"I believe all boats should be under a Wof-type system once a year or 18 months.
"It would mean all boats have to be kept to a certain standard."
Mr Black declined to name the original owner of the boat.
The boat's new owners declined to comment.
A spokesman for the new owners said yesterday the boat had been "bought and sold in good faith and the situation has been been happily resolved between all parties".