Sail powered Tongan inter-island vessel repaired after Gita

A 15 metre wind powered trimaran, damaged during Cyclone Gita, should be back plying the route to Tonga's northern islands by next month.

The 'Utuma'atu began service late last year, providing a sustainable freight and passenger service to the northern islands, but damage from the cyclone meant extensive repairs.

The mastermind of the project has been academic and former MP Sitiveni Halapua who told RNZ the repairs have improved the vessel.

“It was damaged by hurricane kina it really showed the design was right it was strong because if the design was not strong, it would sunk completely  because it was hit by a 1000 tonne sand mining barge,”Halapua said.

Halapua said the vessel is ready to get into the water.

However, he added that Tonga does not have dry-dock facilities to put the vessel back in the water.

He said they have ordered airbags from China to help with that and it may take another 2 or 3 weeks to arrive.