Wild weather thwarts hunt for two missing fishermen
They failed to return from a fishing comp on Friday but high seas and 100kmh winds prevented the coastguard from searching for them yesterday, writer Amanda Saxton.
‘‘QUITE nasty’’ weather has hampered the search for two fishermen who have been been missing off Great Barrier Island since Friday.
Yesterday’s wild conditions – including winds of more than 100kmh and a swell of 3.5m – meant the coastguard couldn’t put out to sea and locals who tried to search the area were forced back after the alarm was raised just before midday that the men had failed to return to port.
The fishermen left Tryphena at noon on Friday for the annual Black Jug Fishing Haggle and were due back at 5pm.
Police enlisted the help of the coastguard, but Coastguard spokeswoman Georgie Smith said it had been ‘‘too dangerous’’ to send staff out .
‘‘We assessed the conditions and from the coastguard’s point of view it was not safe,’’ she said. ‘‘Members of the public have been out in their boats to search, but have had to turn back.’’
The fishing competition’s weigh-in scheduled for 5pm yesterday was cancelled and organisers said they did not wish to comment on the missing competitors.
The Auckland Police Maritime Unit searched for the fishermen from 11.45am until 8pm last night, when operations were called off.
Gale force winds and high seas had been at play around the island from early yesterday morning and into the afternoon, said Metservice meteorologist Doug Mason.
‘‘The conditions are quite nasty ... pretty hard if you’re out at sea in a small boat,’’ he said.
He said the wind had eased by nightfall, but heavy rains would continue into today and there was also a thunderstorm risk.
Yesterday’s gale force winds also toppled trees and tangled power lines in Auckland leaving more than 1000 homes without power; broght snow to the Crown Range in Central Otago; and last night there were reports of damage to a house’s roof in Morningside and the evacuation of a campground in Piha after flooding.
And those hoping for a