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Great Lakes Advocated NSW Australia - TIM CONNELL 6/05/2009 9:32:00 AM

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER LIFEBOAT: A lifeboat at Tuncurry’s Peter Caves Marine, the second to wash up near Forster in a week. The reporter is in the photo for scale. Photo: Carl Muxlow.
WHAT? Again? This is getting weird. Eyebrows were raised when an orange lifeboat washed up at Forster’s One Mile Beach two Fridays ago. What were the odds that a week later locals would be scratching their heads at Seven Mile over, well, an orange lifeboat? But that’s what happened.
Marine contractor Matt Caves retrieved the boat early Saturday after it was spotted by fishermen and a charter boat crew. He said the 28-seater vessel had stumped insurance assessors.

“We were told ‘these are the coordinates, can you go look for it?’ and I thought it was a joke at first,” Mr Caves said.

“The [insurance] bloke said there’s a couple [of ships’ lifeboats] floating out there, but he’d only seen one in 15 years. I said ‘what about the one last week?’ and he said ‘oh, and that one’.”

The latest lifeboat had been floating about a week after it snapped free of the Italian gas tanker Emerald Star. The ship had noticed the loss and tried to retrieve its lifeboat, but it had suffered hull damage and was apparently deemed not worth the effort.

The original lifeboat was swept from the stern of Hong Kong freighter the Kiribati Chief six months before emerging at One Mile. The company decided the barnacle-encrusted vessel was too banged-up to salvage. It was lifted from the beach by excavator, loaded onto a truck and dumped at Tuncurry tip.

Mr Caves predicted a similar fate for the latest beached enigma.

“It’s now waiting for the final decision to take it to the tip or try and save it. There’s a lot of damage. I’d say it just needs a chainsaw through it and leave it at the tip.”

So. Three in three weeks? No-one’s ruling it out.

“I said to the boys to keep Saturday free, just in case,” Mr Caves said.

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