113-year-old heritage scow for sale

Left to rot . . . The Portland scow, in Pounawea, is for sale. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY


A PROMINENT Catlins feature could be set to disappear, if some tricky waters can be navigated.

The unnamed owner of the Portland scow — moored in the Owaka River at Pounawea since 1979 — advertised the decaying 113-year-old vessel for sale in a classified advertisement before Christmas.

The ad sought expressions of interest for the boat, and provided a contact number for ‘‘genuine inquiries’’.

The former trading scow has been the subject of much speculation and occasional community concern during the past decade, changing hands several times and gradually falling into disrepair.

In 2016, a man believed to be the boat’s owner told the Otago Daily Times he planned to restore the scow and convert it into accommodation.

The ODT was unable to make contact with anyone at the number provided last week.

A Pounawea resident, who did not wish to be named, said several locals had contacted the advertiser before Christmas, seeking to clarify his intentions for the notable vessel, which has a community-made information panel nearby.

‘‘Unfortunately it’s been left to rot, and any restoration project would be a considerable challenge now, I’d say.

‘‘It’s got to the stage that locals think it will just be taken away if it’s sold, and scrapped.’’

He said some locals were concerned it was a safety hazard, or could pollute the river.

‘‘It only takes a kid to get up into it and fall down, and no-one would be any the wiser.’’

Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook said the Otago Regional Council checked the vessel for pollution risks.

‘‘The ORC hasn’t received any recent pollution complaints regarding the vessel.

‘‘The last complaint [was] in 2017 [and] no pollution was identified.

‘‘We also periodically visit the site, and there hasn’t been any pollution or potential pollution identified during these visits.’’

Clutha District Catlins ward councillor Dane Catherwood said it was a shame the local landmark had been allowed to fall into further disrepair.

‘‘The motor was running when it first arrived, and the local fire brigade and others helped bring it to its current mooring.

‘‘There have been plenty of people look at it down the years with some good ideas for what you could do with it.

‘‘It’s definitely a bit of a landmark there. It’s just a shame it hasn’t been looked after.

‘‘Left much longer it’ll just fall apart and get washed away.’’