Police stumped in search for missing boatie
Police are investigating a possible sighting of the boat that missing Marlborough man William Kerry Blair was last seen on.
A police spokeswoman said today someone reported seeing the boat on Monday.
She could not give any more information until the sighting had been investigated, she said.
A plane with three search and rescue spotters onboard searched the coastline from Nelson to Westport yesterday but found no sign of the boat or Mr Blair.
Maritime Police said he may have been attempting to cross Cook Strait to Wellington.
The search for a 55-year-old Marlborough man who has been missing at sea since Saturday will be like finding a needle in a haystack, police say.
William Kerry Blair, 55, left Erie Bay, in Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds, in a 9-metre boat about 4pm on Saturday.
His boat was last seen near Cape Jackson about 5.30pm.
His brother Peter Blair said Kerry, as he was known, had lived in a house in Erie Bay owned by a Christchurch man for the past few years. His job was looking after the boats that were kept at the property, including a 24m launch that was sometimes used for charter work.
The aluminum boat he was in on Saturday belonged to the Erie Bay property owner and was capable of going long distances.
Mr Blair said his brother's partner called police early on Sunday morning when he had not returned home.
However, a police spokeswoman said they understood Kerry Blair did not have a partner and did not tell anyone where he was going. Police were alerted to his disappearance about noon on Sunday. The spokeswoman said a signal from his cellphone had been picked up off the West Coast side of Farewell Spit on Sunday afternoon.
Police were treating the search as a missing person operation, she said.
They did not know whether Kerry Blair was with his phone when the signal was picked up, or whether he left and didn't want to be found, she said.
The boat was equipped with navigation equipment and a radio.
Search co-ordinator Sergeant Bill Talbot, of Blenheim, said with no indication of Mr Blair's intentions, the potential search area was enormous.
"We don't know if he has been motoring and if so what direction, or drifting, or whether the boat has gone down," he said.
"Right now it's a needle in a haystack."
Peter Blair said his brother was an experienced boatie and a lifelong fisherman. He described him as an "easy going guy who cruised along" and was "happy enough".
The missing man's niece Georgia Bidois said family members were desperate to find him and were concerned for his wellbeing.
"Kerry is a very much loved father of three and grandfather of four," Miss Bidois said.
"This is extremely out of character for him."
The police spokeswoman said after searches by boat on Sunday and Monday, an aircraft was to be deployed yesterday.
The Marlborough harbour-master searched Queen Charlotte Sound on Sunday while the Nelson Coastguard searched Tasman Bay to the top of Farewell Spit, and the Abel Tasman coastline from Awaroa back to Nelson yesterday.
The aluminium boat, Erie, has a hard top painted white and a blue stripe along the side.
- The Marlborough Express
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