Houseboat owner hits out at Port

January 2011 News - Doug Gillett

A former houseboat owner has lashed out at the Bundaberg Port Authority after he returned from a holiday to find his home had washed away in floodwaters.

Disabled pensioner Jim Agerby was reduced to tears when he was confronted by a blank space of water his boat should have occupied at the river's long reach moorings.

"It's all I really had and it was my home, so to come back and find it'd been blasted out to sea was pretty hard to take," he said.

Mr Agerby has accused the Port Authority of failing him in its duty of care because he was not notified his boat was at risk by the floods.

He fears the $15,000, 12-metre boat has been washed out to sea or sunk in the Burnett River.

The boat had been moored at four points with trawler's rope, but was ripped free by the force of the current.

Mr Agerby was visiting his mother on the Gold Coast when the flood hit Bundaberg.

"I think it comes down to negligence," he said.

"All it would have taken was a phone call to alert me or they could have tried to move it themselves.

"A phone call would have been a common courtesy."

A spokeswoman for the Port of Bundaberg said boat owners were made aware that boats were secured to the river moorings at the owner's own risk.

Regulations dictate owners must have adequate insurance on their vessels or sign a warrant accepting full responsibility for any damage that may be caused to their boat and others.

"Mr Agerby was made fully aware that he moored his houseboat at his own risk and signed a document advising the port of this fact and that he took full responsibility for damage that may be caused to his vessel," she said.

The spokeswoman said staff had made a courtesy phone call to Mr Agerby after the flood, when an audit of moorings revealed his boat was missing.


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