Fishing boat tragedy: Three dead, two still missing, five rescued after charter boat The Enchanter sank off North Cape
A major search and rescue operation is underway after a vessel ran into trouble off the North Cape. Video / NZ Herald
At least three people have died after a boat sank overnight off the North Cape with 10 people on board, police have confirmed.
Five people were rescued from the water but two are still missing after their boat – believed to be the Enchanter fishing charter which operates out of Mangonui – ran into trouble and triggered an emergency beacon around 8pm.
Police said the bodies of two people were found in the water and picked up by a helicopter this morning. A third body had been recovered by a vessel participating in the search for water.
“Air, land and sea searches are underway to locate the two people who are still missing,” police said.
An emergency beacon alert was received around 8pm last night from the south-east of North Cape, according to Maritime NZ spokesman Nick Burt.
Maritime NZ operates the Rescue Coordination Center which is in charge of the rescue effort.
A helicopter was first on the scene from a distance, arriving around 11:40 p.m., Burt said. Several agencies were involved in the rescue, including the police, Westpac rescue helicopters, local fishing vessels and the New Zealand Defense Force.
Ground crews, including police, are also searching along the shore.
Five people were rescued from the water and were in Kaitaia Hospital in stable condition, Burt told NZME. He did not know if the captain of the boat was among them, but said police had questioned the survivors.
The weather had been “pretty dreadful” overnight, he said. “It’s eased now – we’re seeing fairly favorable conditions – but it’s been quite a dangerous rescue for the crews.”
Te Hiku community board member Darren Axe, who runs a mobile coffee cart in Houhora, about 30 km from where the rescue operations center has been set up, said that helicopters had searched the area all morning.
“There were so many people who came here this morning looking for information.”
Ax has lived in the area for 31 years and said yesterday was one of the toughest days he has ever seen. “Wrong.”
“It’s sunny here today, you wouldn’t even think anything would have happened yesterday.”
Northland was battered by extreme weather conditions overnight, including torrential rain and thunderstorms.
MetService warned of gales and possible thunderstorms off the coast overnight.
The fishing charter vessel Enchanter
The Enchanter is a 17 meter long vessel designed to operate off the coast of New Zealand. It can accommodate eight passengers in single berths and has a full-size toilet and shower.
The vessel operates to Martime NZ’s “full safety requirements”, the Enchanter Fishing Charters website says.
The Enchanter is one of three similarly sized vessels operated by the company from Mangonui in the Far North.
According to the company’s website, Lance Goodhew started the company in 1995.
“Lance has a passion for the sea and fishing, dedicating his life to living on the ocean aboard Enchanter for over 250 days a year for the past 20 years,” the website states.
“He is the captain of Enchanter and leads the operation, he leads a tight vessel and a highly motivated crew. He is a qualified offshore captain and has extensive knowledge and experience of the industry and working in these extreme environments. .”
Defense Force assists in rescue efforts
New Zealand Defense Force spokesman Dave Williams said a P-3K2 Orion left Whenuapai Air Base at 1 a.m. to help with the search.
That plane, with a search and rescue team of 12, had returned and was due to land at Whenuapai Base Auckland at around 8 a.m., but had been diverted to Ohakea Base due to bad weather.
A second Orion had been requested and would leave Auckland as soon as possible, Williams said.
The Royal New Zealand Navy vessel HMNZS Taupo was also en route to the search area and was expected to arrive around noon.
Williams said it was also possible that one of the Defense Forces Seasprite helicopters could join the search. He was currently on board HMNZS Canterbury which is in the Hauraki Gulf.
Auckland’s Westpac rescue helicopter as it responded to a search and rescue call last night for a sunken vessel 200 meters off the North Cape coast.