Man's whereabouts still mystery

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 07:05 17/03/2014

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The boat that missing Marlborough Sounds man William Kerry Blair was last seen on has been found, however, his whereabouts remains unknown.

According to the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand, the 9-metre boat Mr Blair was thought to be on was first spotted by crew on an air force P3 Orion early on Friday evening. The boat was 90 nautical miles [166 kilometres] west-northwest of New Plymouth and appeared to be in good condition.

However, police communications spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said when rescuers reached the vessel by sea on Saturday afternoon, conditions were unfavourable and they were unable to board it or tow it to safety.

"We simply don't know if he is on board or not," she said.

"An 82-metre anchor handler ship called Maersk Seeker, whose owners have been incredibly generous, went out to make contact. It returned to port after being unable to secure a line to the vessel [Saturday] night in atrocious seas," she said.

The boat had to be left at sea until conditions improved.

Mr Blair had not been heard from since he left Erie Bay, in Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds, in a 9-metre boat about 4pm on Saturday, March 8.

His boat was last seen near Cape Jackson about 5.30pm the same day.

Mr Blair was considered a capable seaman and had enough fuel to navigate the entire New Zealand coastline.

Family and friends organised private aerial searches for him last week.

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- The Marlborough Express

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