Frustrated boaties want new pontoons

Two boaties launching a small boat off the concrete boat ramp at Half Moon Bay. Picture supplied.

Frustration is mounting as boaties spend another week without the pontoons down at Half Moon Bay.

The pontoons were damaged beyond repair during the January 5 storm and were removed shortly after the storm for safety reasons.

Nineteen weeks later and local resident Stewart McLaren says he’s still unable to launch his boat at Half Moon Bay because its larger size means launching it off the fixed concrete ramp risks damaging the fibreglass hull.

He has reached out to Auckland Council and says he’s been told they might have to wait a further six months before the pontoons are replaced.

McLaren presented his case to the Howick Local Board last week and asked why it is taking so long to repair “a key sports facility?”

He says since the boat ramp was re-opened on January 12, the pontoons have been missing leaving only the concrete boat ramp.

“If a ramp is concrete it’s best that you don’t have the boat intercept the concrete ramp for obvious reasons – damage to the propeller, to the hull or whatever,” he says.

He says for anyone with a reasonable sized boat, launching off the ramp as a solo-fisherman is near impossible and even for team of two, launching a bigger boat without the pontoons is tricky.

“The current process if you have two people is that once the boat is in the water, one person is left in control of keeping the boat from hitting the concrete ramp, while the other parks the car and trailer,” he says.

“Assuming one of them has managed to hold it against the wind and the tide, the second individual has to find a way to get onto the boat without letter it touch the concrete ramp.

“Either he has to wade in up to his chest if it’s full tide and climb onto the back of the boat or somehow manoeuvre the boat sideways so he can then climb on the boat sideways, again without the boat touching the ramp.”

Auckland Council head of operational management & maintenance Agnes McCormack says the pontoons needed to be removed to enable structural inspections and were found irreparable.

“New pontoon units, fixing hardware and sleeves to extend the height of piles have been ordered. This will enable reinstatement with every effort being made to future-proof respective structures, such that any future storm events have a minimal impact on subsequent operation and use,” she says.

“Dive inspections of the existing piles have also been completed. This has identified that the concrete boat ramp has been undermined by the storm surges and will require repairs.

In addition, she says six of the 14 piles are too damaged to be reused and will also need to be replaced.

The other piles will be strengthened and lengthened by installing sleeves over them to minimise the impact of future storm event, she says.

“We appreciate that this facility is an extremely popular boat launching facility and are doing everything we can to get the new pontoons installed as quickly as we can.

“The replacement of the new pontoons and pile extensions are expected to be completed before Labour Weekend 2018.”

Labour weekend is 42 weeks after the January storm.