National News

National News is brought to you by a partnership between Crux and RNZ News 

Police dive squad looks for fifth boat victim

Mar 22, 2022

The police dive squad will this morning join the operation to locate the final missing person from the tragic North Cape boating incident on Sunday.

People in the Waikato towns of Cambridge and Te Awamutu are in mourning following the tragic deaths of two people on a fishing boat.

Ten people were on board the charter boat Enchanter when it sank off North Cape during a wild Sunday-night storm.

A rogue wave is understood to have hit the boat.

Five people including the skipper were rescued after four hours in the water, and all have since been discharged from Kaitaia Hospital.

Four bodies have been recovered, and the search for the fifth person will resume this morning.

Search efforts have been hampered by bad weather, but the conditions are expected to be favourable today.

Meanwhile, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry, and a rahui has been imposed along a stretch of the coast.

Waikato men Mark Sanders and Richard Bright were among the victims of the tragic incident.

Bright owned and ran the Group One Turf Bar in Cambridge while Te Awamutu builder Sanders is a well-known horse trainer.

Friends have posted tributes to social media to describe two "genuine champions".

Bright was described as a man who did not hesitate to do what was right even if it meant going against his own business interests.

Another poster said Sanders was one of the finest young men he has ever met.

Sanders had a stellar racing career and trained Prize Lady to win the Auckland Cup in 2007.

The search for the last person missing will resume this morning.

Mark Sanders, 43, died when the fishing charter boat Enchanter sank off North Cape on Sunday 20 March 2022. Photo: Supplied

"Our hearts of our community go out to them" - Mangonui Harbour Warden duration 7′ :10″ from Morning Report Add to playlistPlaylist Download as Ogg Download as MP3 Play Ogg in browser Play MP3 in browser

Mangonui Harbour Warden Steve Smith told Morning Report the Enchanter fishing vessel was well-built and able to handle rough weather.

Smith said the captain of the ill-fated Enchanter, Lance Goodhew, was also hugely experienced.

He refused to speculate on what caused the boat to sink but said the ocean in that area was unpredictable at times.

"It's very remote, up there you've got all sorts of currents because you've got the meeting of the two seas at times and things can happen out of the blue which you'd least expect regardless of what the weather is at the time."

He said the 10-strong group were well-known to the community and locals had been deeply affected by the tragedy.

"We up here we're reliant on the fishermen, the charters, the commercial fishermen and even to a certain extent the recreational fishermen we are all there together and that's what makes this town work," Smith said.

"The people on the charter, I believe most of them are from Auckland, our hearts of our community go out to them I mean they were for a short while part of our community and we respect that - it's what we live on, it's our bread and butter up here."

Lance and the Enchanter group had been coming up to Mangonui for a few years and it was of late that the skipper had made it his base for taking charters up to the Three Kings, Smith said.

He had witnessed the skipper's pre-sailing safety routine in the past and described the ship as "extremely well equipped".

Smith expected the weather conditions would allow search and rescue operations to scour the area today.

"We need to investigate all possibilities" - Rescue Coordination Centre duration 5′ :53″ from Morning Report Add to playlistPlaylist Download as Ogg Download as MP3 Play Ogg in browser Play MP3 in browser

Rescue Coordination Centre spokesperson Nick Burt told Morning Report they were approaching the situation as an active search and rescue operation and hoped to find the final missing person today.

He said the operation was well-equipped with a total of three commercial vessels, two commercial helicopters, the Westpac rescue helicopter, the police dive squad and a fixed-wing plane all in attendance.

"They'll go and have a look at the wreck and they'll likely play a crucial role this morning, we need to investigate all possibilities so that's what they'll be doing this morning."

Burt said they would explore the possibility that the missing person was still on the shipwreck.

The operation was utilising software programs to model the ocean currents and winds to ascertain the size of the search area.

He said they were looking at a search area of about 500 square nautical miles today.

"The weather initially did have a real impact on getting search to the area, those guys and girls on the ground up there have done a great job and put in some big big hours to help find these people."

Based on the time that the distress beacon was utilised, Burt predicted some of the survivors were in the water for about four hours.

Burt said the operation was a huge undertaking and he was thankful for the assistance of the New Zealand Defence Force, police, coastguard, LandSAR and a commercial fishing fleet.

Support Crux Support Crux