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A helicopter returns with the latest victim in Te Pua, Far North. Photo / Michael Cunningham
By Jean Edwards of RNZ
One of the men killed in the Far North fishing boat tragedy was worried about the weather forecast before he went on the trip, his devastated father says.
Te Awamutu builder Mark Sanders, 43, was one of 10 people on board the charter boat Enchanter when it sank off North Cape during a wild Sunday-night storm.
Five people, including skipper Lance Goodhew and crew member Kobe O’Neill, were rescued by helicopter after four hours in the water and have since been discharged from Kaitaia Hospital.
Four bodies have been recovered and the search for the fifth person will resume this morning.
Graeme Sanders said his son was a father-of-three, a talented sportsman and a keen fisherman.
He last spoke to him when he shook his hand and wished him good luck as he embarked on an adventure he had been looking forward to for two years.
Sanders said his son told him he might have to cut the fishing trip short because of the poor weather forecast.
“He was worried about the forecast for the last day or so that he was fishing. He told me that before he went – ‘the forecast doesn’t look good, we might have to come back early’.”
A weather warning was issued on Saturday morning, two days after the Enchanter left Mangonui on a five-day trip to the Three Kings Islands north of Cape Reinga.
A rogue wave is understood to have hit the boat near Murimotu Island, breaking the bridge.
The alarm was first raised when an emergency locator beacon was set off at about 8pm on Sunday night.
Sanders said he had hoped his son was among the five who survived the ordeal.
“He did have a life jacket on, but it still didn’t save him,” he said.
“We’re happy that they’ve recovered his body and we’ve just got to toe the line and see what happens from now on.”
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an inquiry into the sinking and a rahui has been imposed along a stretch of the coast.
Te Aupouri iwi leader Penetauri Kleskovic said the weather conditions were terrible over the weekend.
“Those who’ve been rescued, it’s a miracle that they’ve survived,” he said.
“Any cape can be treacherous and Murimotu, near where the boat has gone down, is well known to us. Historically we’ve had tragedies there before.”
Diveworks Charters owner and former Enchanter skipper Phil van Dusschoten said the boat was initially destined for deep-sea fishing so it was very well-built.
“I actually believed that boat could have handled the perfect storm,” he said.
“It sounds like it’s pretty seriously damaged the top of the boat, I saw one report that said it broke the boat, which is absolutely amazing.”
Van Dusschoten said Lance Goodhew was a “very competent and very capable skipper, very active, very aggressive fisherman”.
He said a trip to Three Kings Islands was a “bucket list” item for serious New Zealand anglers, at an estimated cost of $2000 per person.
Maritime New Zealand said rescue crews had been battling squalls, hampering their efforts to find the missing person, but favourable conditions were forecast today.
Graeme Sanders said he would remember his son Mark as a loving family man.
“He was a good bugger. He wasn’t only my son, he was my mate,” he said.
“I never went fishing with anyone else but him.”