LATEST: The Customs Service is carrying out sea and air searches for the yacht Nilaya, amid concerns a Norwegian adventurer may be making another voyage to Antarctica, after a similar trip a year ago ended with three deaths.
Customs said it sent a boat this morning to search in the Auckland Harbour and Waiheke Island area. A plane would do an aerial sweep, working on the time and distance the Nilaya may have covered.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Norwegian Jarle Andhoey was in New Zealand early this month and failed to declare, as required, that he had previously been deported from Canada.
The Norwegian government had notified Antarctic Treaty Parties it was concerned Andhoey may be planning another voyage to the Ross Sea, and had advised that no expedition had been authorised by it as required by Norwegian law.
The Southern Ocean was one of the most remote and inhospitable areas in the world and New Zealand government agencies were obviously concerned about any possibility there could be a repeat of last year's events in the Ross Sea, MFAT said.
Customs appealed for information on the Nilaya's location, noting it was an offence to leave New Zealand waters without obtaining Customs clearance, and complying with relevant New Zealand legislation.
Anyone able to help was asked to contact 0800 4 Customs (0800 428 786).
The suspected new voyage comes a week after Norway television ran a documentary made by Andhoey on last year's disaster. Family of the three killed went to court unsuccessfully to stop the broadcast.
The documentary was screened last week on TVNorge.
Families of the dead tried to block its airing.
The Oslo District Court ruled it supported TVNorge's argument that the events of significant public interest, and believed the TV series could not be temporarily halted.
TVNorge said the crew knew about and agreed that the recordings would be published.
The court said the documentary did not harm or defame the reputation of the dead men.
Nilaya - which means "paradise" or "pleasure" - has been on sale in New Zealand for $345,000 - down from the original asking price of $570,000.
The registered owner of the yacht and the man advertising it for sail is Douglas Easton of Auckland, who runs a building consultancy firm. He could not be contacted for comment this morning.
"Nilaya is a magnificent, New Zealand-built 54 foot custom steel pilothouse yacht," a website sale note says.
"Well equipped, easily handled, a comfortable and good looking luxury sailboat.
"The 22 ton 'small superyacht' is well suited to safe blue water cruising, live aboard or simply entertaining out in the Bay."
Registered to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the yacht is described as being of rare quality.
"She has a large saloon and dining area, master stateroom with ensuite and generous guest accommodation. All is low maintenance.
"This is a vessel that needs to be seen in person and is ready and capable of taking her new owners on the cruise of a lifetime in comfort, safety and style. Her shallow draft and strong construction make her an ideal vessel for live-aboard cruising."
Last February Andhoey was skipper of 14-metre steel yacht Berserk, which sailed to Antarctica without a permit or permission from the Norwegian government.
He and crewman Samuel Massie were dropped off near Scott Base to undertake a trip to the South Pole on four-wheel-drive quad bikes.
The yacht's emergency beacon was activated soon after they were dropped off. It lasted for several hours before transmissions ceased and it was believed the yacht, and three remaining crew, had sunk in one of the worst Antarctic storms in 20 years.
Once they knew the yacht had disappeared, Andhoey and Massie went to the US base at McMurdo Sound, to catch a flight back to Christchurch.
A week-long international search and rescue operation for Berserk, coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand, covered more than 25,000sq km, in often-treacherous seas and 180kmh winds.
At the time, Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said the trip at that time of year was unusual, and Andhoey broke safety protocols.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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