Boats continue to run aground on the eastern side of Otago
Harbour but the Otago Regional Council has decided it is not
responsible for keeping the channels open.
The Otago Community Peninsula Board made a submission to the
council earlier this year asking it to dredge the channel to
make it safer for boat users but that has since been
Board member Chris Garey was surprised to learn the decision
had been made several months ago.
"Oh, that is nice to know, through the media. I am less than
Council corporate services director Wayne Scott said the
council had agreed to identify exactly where the channels
were in the harbour and update navigation charts and GPS
Mrs Garey said it was good the navigation markers were being
updated, but more needed to be done to provide safe water
access on the eastern side of the harbour.
"We will be pursuing it. It is an ongoing issue with the
board and we will be revisiting it on a regular basis until
there is some action.
"The Otago Regional Council do have a responsibility for safe
navigation in the harbour."
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said it was not the
council's role to maintain a channel to that side of the
harbour, although it had been involved in some small dredging
projects in the past.
"Clearly, water moves up and down the harbour and when you
have got channels like that, that go across the water flow,
you are going to have some sedimentation from time to time.
"We don't see that it is our role so we are not contemplating
doing any work," Mr Woodhead said.
Coastguard Dunedin president Lox Kellas said he had seen one
launch and two yachts stuck near the cross-harbour channel in
the MacAndrew Bay area so far this year.
"Once a year someone might just miss the corner and end up in
the putty. Once you are stuck you are stuck, that's it. There
is no point trying to tow someone off on an outgoing tide."
A displacement hulled vessel would sit there until the tide
rose again but keelers would lean as the tide went out and
could fill with water, he said.
Until about 50 years ago the Portobello to Port Chalmers
ferry would simply keep the channel open with its large,
Mrs Garey said good water access was important when it came
to connecting the bays on the eastern side of the harbour and
also as a link to Port Chalmers. It was also the only means
of emergency transport in the event of trees toppling on to
the road in strong winds.