Stuck in slipway slip-up

THE 1200-tonne anti-whaling ship the Bob Barker took a tilt for the worse on Wednesday when an attempt to slip the boat ashore at the Harwood Slipway went awry.

Things went wrong for the vessel when one of the main support arms of the slipway cradle broke under the pressure of the vessel. The broken arm jammed the wheels of the cradle, leaving the Bob Barker stranded on the slip, on a 20 degree list.

“The boat went in with a little list and when we pulled it up there was too much weight on that side of the cradle,” said Giovanni Tervella, manager of the slipway.

Three of the arms gave way, leaving the cradle unable to operate, he said.

The Bob Barker remained like that until a repair team could be assembled on Thursday morning. Divers were put into the water to survey the damage and reported that there was one arm interfering with the movement of the cradle. This was pulled out of the way by a crane, according to Mr Tervella.

The boat was refloated in the Clarence River later that day.

The cradle will be repaired before another attempt to slip the vessel is made next week.

The Bob Barker is in port to undergo a full exterior re-paint.

According to Andrea Gordon, a volunteer crew member of the Bob Barker, the incident forced the crew to find alternative accommodation for the night.

The crew of the Bob Barker currently numbers 12 and they have all been given a warm welcome by the people of Yamba.

“They have been super nice to us. They are very friendly and we are happy to be here,” she said.

The Bob Barker has recently returned from its most successful anti-whaling expedition where the vessel helped to save more than 800 whales.

It was instrumental in chasing the Japanese factory ship, a key component of the whaling fleet, out of the southern ocean. This was crucial to the Japanese decision to pull out of this year’s whaling hunt, Ms Gordon said.

The 1200-tonne Norwegian-built vessel was part of the Antarctic harpoon fleet used to hunt whales before the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society put the boat to work as part of its whale defence operations.

The lean on the boat while stuck on the slipway was nothing compared to what the vessel went through in the rough conditions of the southern ocean.

“We had a lot of rough weather and high seas,” Ms Gordon said.

“It is an environment to be respected.”

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