Waterways team to the rescue

Waterways team to the rescue

*This article was published 10 years ago

A quick response from the City of Melbourne’s waterways unit on November 27 saved charter boat Mandalay from a watery grave.

The craft was sinking at its Central Pier mooring when an alert Nolan tower resident raised the alarm just before 5pm. By 5.30pm waterways staff had started pumping water from the stricken vessel but called for emergency services help shortly after when the magnitude of the problem became apparent.

Some 45 minutes later the fire brigade had pumped the vessel out. It is believed that the vessel would have gone to the bottom within an hour had its plight not been noticed. Mandalay’s owner Keith Rankin told Docklands News that the vessel appeared to have been taking water for three days but that its main pump had failed and, in the process, had destroyed the power supply to the boat.

Mr Rankin said that, without power, auxiliary pumps failed to activate and the vessel was slowly sinking. He said it was normal for wooden boats to “weep” water and be automatically pumped out and that Mandalay had been rescaled only last year when she had been out of the water for four months.

Mr Rankin said he was dealing with a family emergency in Warburton when he was alerted by phone about Mandalay’s predicament. Mr Rankin was on his way to Warburton in February 2008 when he similarly learned that another of his vessels, Lady Chelmsford, had sunk at its Central Pier moorings.

Lady Chelmsford spent three years on the bottom of the harbour before being broken up for scrap. However, Mr Rankin rejected any suggestion that there were any further similarities between the Chelmsford and Mandalay situations.

He said there was evidence of a break-in on Chelmsford before the 2008 sinking that that witnesses reported that her pumps were going flat-out as she sank. •

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