Five missing, five rescued after fishing charter vessel ‘tragedy’ off Far North

Five people remain missing after a fishing charter ship went down in rough seas off the Northland coast late on Sunday Night.

The Enchanter, a charter vessel operating out of Mangonui in the Far North, sunk just before midnight off North Cape in rough conditions. The five who were rescued are in Kaitaia Hospital in a stable condition, authorities say.

Stuff understands a captain and crew member, along with eight people on a fishing charter, were aboard. Police have not named the rescued or the missing.

The company whose boat went down was earlier involved in the rescue of victims of the deadly Whakaari/White Island eruption.

Penetaui Kleskovic, operations manager for Te Aupouri Commercial Development, said the Te Aupōuri iwi were “deeply saddened” by the sinking.

“Mana moana and mana whenua are deeply saddened to hear of the Enchanter, which went down near North Cape late last night.”

Kleskovic said he had been on the previously and described it as an advanced and capable vessel.

The live-aboard boat is 17m long and is designed for off-shore fishing, the company’s website said.

It is one of three boats operated by Enchanter fishing charters, which specialises in fishing around the Three Kings Islands

On Sunday night police and Maritime NZ were called to a rescue operation off North Cape, following a report of a vessel in distress.

On Monday morning Maritime NZ said an emergency position-indicating radio beacon was activated by a vessel at 8pm on Sunday evening.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was initially tasked to a sunken vessel shortly after, about 200metres off North Cape.

Police search and rescue are assisting with a land search based at Te Pua, in the Far North, while helicopters search from the air.

MetService meteorologist Ashlee Parkes said there were torrential downpours and gale northeasterly winds in the area overnight, but the weather had calmed down by Monday morning, when there was a two-metre swell and 10kmh winds.

Winds in the area on Sunday afternoon would have reached about 65kmh before easing off late in the evening, added MetService meteorologist David Miller.

He said waves would have been up to 2.5 metres and the rain was heavy.

However, the front causing the weather had moved away from the area by Monday morning, he said.

The Enchanter business was established in 1995 by Lance Goodhew and, according to its website, offers charter fishing for “the serious angler”.

It has three boats in its fleet – Enchanter, Cova Rose and Pacific Invader – each of which can sleep up to eight people.

They take charters to remote places like White Island, Ranfurly Banks, Westport and the Three Kings, a group of islands 55 kilometres north-west of Cape Reinga.

Goodhew, the captain of Enchanter, “has a passion for the sea and fishing” and “dedicates his life to living on the ocean”, the business’s website says.

He has lived on board the vessel for more than 250 days a year for the past two decades.Calls to Goodhew’s phone on Monday morning went unanswered.

In 2019, Enchanter Fishing Charters staff aboard Cova Rose helped rescue victims of the deadly Whakaari/ White Island eruption.

The vessel, which had two doctors on board, was on a fishing charter a few miles off the island when the eruption happened.

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