Two men in a boat and a cry for help

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Farm worker Ian Sowden heard cries across the water at dusk.

Mr Sowden was riding past the Lake Emma hut when he heard shouts for help.

A southerly was roaring across the lake and two men in a tin boat – a tin boat now restored and housed at Hakatere Corner – were shouting for help.

They had lost an oar and were trying to battle the wind to get to the lakeside hut.

On Mr Sowden’s advice, they stopped fighting the wind and let it take them to the other side – and safety.

It was but one story of the riveted galvanised iron boat restored by David Howden, of the Hakatere Heritage Committee.

Some time after this incident – some decades ago – the boat was dragged to the rubbish dump at Hakatere, destroying its bottom.

There it lay for 50-odd years.

When it was found, matagouri a metre high was growing through its damaged bottom.

Mr Howden said he could only guess at the boat’s age.

The frame was riveted and not soldered and in the style of rowing boats of the 1800s, it was narrow with outriggers for rollocks and a stern backrest for passengers.

Now that the boat has been restored, a secure shed for it has been built at Hakatere Corner, where the old stone cottage is being restored and other buildings have been preserved.

Mr Howden said he and John Greenslade, Bryan Humm and Alan Wakelin built the shed from wood and corrugated iron saved from the musterers’ wood shed at the site, supplemented by aged timber so hard, all holes had to be drilled.

The boat shed has been built next to the stone cottage, believed to be the oldest building in Mid Canterbury.

He said the boat was unusual in that most boats of the era were clinker built.

A clue to its age may be a photograph taken at Lake Emma hut by Albert Sparrow in 1910.

It shows a duck shooting party at a hut and in the background is the flat side of a boat of the same proportions as the tin boat.

Trout was liberated in the lake in the 1890s and grew to great size.