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‘Wave was over 30 feet’: Enchanter skipper spent 4hrs in sea clinging to plastic

‘Wave was over 30 feet’: Enchanter skipper spent 4hrs in sea clinging to plastic

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Enchanter fishing boat tragedy: Video footage shows intense moments survivors were rescued from the wreck of the sunken charter vessel. Video / Northland Rescue Helicopter

The mother of the skipper of fishing boat that sank off Northland’s coast says her son was in the sea for four hours before he was rescued.

June Goodhew told the Herald she is grateful her prayers were answered and her son Lance is alive.

“After the wave crashed into the boat Lance and Kobe [O’Neil] were hanging on to a piece of plastic. Lance is in a state, this whole tragedy is raw for everyone and we feel the loss of the five people. But I feel blessed my prayers were answered,” Goodhew said.

Goodhew says she is proud of her son who was involved in the rescue during the Whakaari volcano eruption where 22 people were killed.

Wreckage from the charter fishing vessel Enchanter floats on the surface of the ocean off the Northland coast. Photo / Supplied
Wreckage from the charter fishing vessel Enchanter floats on the surface of the ocean off the Northland coast. Photo / Supplied

“Lance has saved so many people at sea. One of his boats was near White Island, it had two doctors on board, which is good. Lance is a very brave man, I am very proud of him but I feel so sad for his grief.”

The popular fishing charter vessel The Enchanter was on a five-day trip to the Three Kings Islands north of Cape Reinga last week when it sank in a storm that swept over Northland.

Ten people were on board. A rogue wave is understood to have hit the boat near Murimotu Island, breaking the bridge.

Still from the helicopter rescue chopper during the rescue of men from the stricken charter fishing vessel Enchanter off the Northland coast. Photo / Supplied
Still from the helicopter rescue chopper during the rescue of men from the stricken charter fishing vessel Enchanter off the Northland coast. Photo / Supplied

Five bodies have been recovered and five people were pulled from the water alive, including Lance Goodhew, who could not be reached for comment.

The survivors were in the water for four hours, some clinging to parts of the broken and battered Enchanter before they were rescued.

“Lance told me the wave was over 30 feet,” his mother said. “He was in the water for four hours. They had two beacons, one was released at the wheel when the wave struck and the other was manually pressed.”

The skipper was earlier fined several thousand dollars by Maritime NZ for breaching safety rules in 2009.

He and three other charter boat operators were fined between $2000 and $4750 after they were caught in a Maritime NZ crackdown working outside safety limits governing how far offshore they could go.

They four were fined between $2000 and $4750 for operating up to 31km outside their limits.

Video footage obtained by the Herald shows the harrowing moments five survivors were rescued in the pitch black of night.

Northern Rescue Helicopter crew can be seen climbing on to the deck of the vessel, which barely breaches the surface, to assist the five men.

The HMNZS Taupo was involved in the search for the charter fishing vessel. Photo / Supplied
The HMNZS Taupo was involved in the search for the charter fishing vessel. Photo / Supplied

The video shows a helicopter crewman lowered into the water with lifesaving equipment, as one man leaps into the water off the wreckage and goes to him.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has launched an inquiry into the Far North fishing boat tragedy.

A TAIC spokesperson said a protection order has been placed on all debris of the charter boat to protect evidence.

“Anyone finding debris should report this to the police.”

Five people who were plucked to safety from the boat are now out of hospital.

TAIC investigators in the Far North will be speaking to people who may have information about the Enchanter and are encouraging people with information to come forward.

The commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident have – or are likely to have – significant implications for transport safety.

An emergency beacon alert was received on Sunday night around 8pm from southeast of North Cape, according to Maritime NZ spokesman Nick Burt.

Lance Goodhew. Photo / Supplied
Lance Goodhew. Photo / Supplied

Maritime NZ runs the Rescue Coordination Centre, which was in charge of the rescue effort.

A helicopter was first on scene at the remote location, arriving around 11.40pm, Burt said.

Multiple agencies were involved in the rescue including police, Westpac rescue helicopters, local fishing vessels, and the NZ Defence Force.

Lance Goodhew ran three boats through his fishing charter company. Trips have been suspended for the time being.

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