Ship boat

Investigation underway after container ship and small yacht involved in ‘near miss’ incident

A container ship entering the port of Tauranga had to change course to avoid hitting a small yacht on June 5. Supplied / Chris Cousins

An investigation has been launched by Tauranga Harbourmaster after a container ship entering Tauranga Harbor was forced to alter course to avoid hitting a small yacht.

Eyewitness Chris Cousins ​​from Te Awamutu said at around 1.35pm on Sunday that he and his family were walking on the 4×4 track on the Matakana Island side of Mauao.

He said as they walked they suddenly heard a ship honk its horn in an intermittent “explosion” that lasted about one to two minutes.

“It was not something I had ever heard before and as we rounded the corner I could see a small white yacht sailing through the channel at the same time as the container ship entered the harbour.

“Then I saw the vessel take a sharp right turn towards Matakana Island to avoid hitting the small yacht. The vessel appeared to veer off course at a funny angle.

“I thought to myself, ‘oh crikey someone is in all sorts of trouble’ but I couldn’t see anyone on the deck of the white yacht.

After the “close call” the yacht continued to sail and after the ship circled the yacht it was carrying on its voyage, he said.

A white yacht and a container ship heading towards each other at the entrance to the port of Tauranga on June 5.  Supplied / Chris Cousins
A white yacht and a container ship heading towards each other at the entrance to the port of Tauranga on June 5. Supplied / Chris Cousins

“It is extremely lucky, extremely lucky in fact, that the ship was able to change course in time…I estimate that the closest point between the two ships before the ship veered off course was less than 100 meters.”

Cousins ​​said that after the “near miss” he saw two more boats appear – a black boat sailing some distance behind the yacht and another boat which came alongside the black boat for about 30 seconds one minute away.

“I’m quite surprised that no boat followed the small yacht and tried to stop it from leaving.

“I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in Mauao who saw this near miss and health and safety officials need to get involved and decide what to do next to prevent a similar incident.”

Tauranga Coastguard Unit Manager Dane Robinson said none of the coastguard boats responded to the alleged incident and he was unaware of the matter until he is approached.

However, he said it was normal for Coastguard radio operators to send a warning alert to other boaters 15 minutes before vessels arrive via VHF channel zero-one.

A Tauranga Port spokesman said the authority was aware of the alleged incident and the port master was investigating.

The Harbor Master has been approached for comment.