On the night of the collision, 11 September 2016, Seaflyte had left Auckland Basin for Bayswater Marina. The master, two crew and two passengers were on board. The collision happened a few minutes later at about 8.13pm.
The master did not see the recreational boat until the vessels were 15 metres apart. He put Seaflyte’s engines into full reverse but did not manage to avoid collision.
No one was injured on either vessel. There was significant damage to the recreational boat and less serious damage to Seaflyte. Immediately after the collision the master helped the two people on board the recreational boat and contacted Auckland Harbour Control to report the incident.
Maritime NZ Northern Regional Manager Neil Rowarth said that the skipper is legally responsible to make sure a vessel has a proper look-out at all times by all available means in the conditions - in this case it was a still night with a lot of light reflection on the water.
On calm nights light reflection is a known risk in the inner harbour. Many Auckland shipping operators’ have written this into their safety plans as a time when particular care is needed to prevent collisions on one of our busiest harbours. Ships’ lights and lights from land can reflect on the water and appear to be in more than one place. Skippers must be aware of this and keep proper look-out for the conditions.
In a case, the skipper of fishing boat Lady Sarah was fined $2,000 by the Christchurch District Court. Lady Sarah ran aground at night on Kaitorete Spit near the entrance to Lake Ellesmere because no one was keeping proper look-out and no one was in the wheelhouse. Lady Sarah’s insurers declared the vessel a total loss.