The grieving family of missing man William Kerry Blair do not believe the 55-year-old took his own life.
His younger brother, Peter Blair, said Kerry had been busily planning his niece's wedding and had been looking forward to a new job on a charter in the days leading up to his disappearance.
Mr Blair said his brother was in good health and there was "nothing untoward or out of character" in his behaviour.
He said theories to his disappearance remained "speculation".
Navy frigate HMNZS Wellington found the missing launch Erie more than 200 kilometres off the Taranaki Coast, northwest of New Plymouth in heavy seas on Monday night.
Police said Kerry Blair was not on board and there was no immediate indication as to what had happened to him.
Police said the search operation was under review but Mr Blair's brother said the family had come to terms that the search was at an end.
"At this stage it is accepted that he is lost somewhere. The police have stopped searching because they have no idea where to search. For us we are going through a grieving process, we are still seeking answers to questions.
"His children are grieving pretty hard. I have told them not to dwell too much on what has happened and to think of the good times. It has been very tough on everybody. Last year our sister died of cancer and our mother is struggling with the news."
Peter Blair said he was "very confident" that his brother had not taken his own life. "He was in good health physically. There was nothing untoward, unusual or out of character in his behaviour. This is very confusing for us. Anything could have happened, everything is speculation and theory."
Kerry, as he was known, was a much-loved father-of-three. The experienced boatie and fisherman 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 24-metre launch that was sometimes used for charter work.
Peter Blair said he had spoken to his brother every evening in the week before his disappearance and he had been busily preparing family events and painting his home.
"He was planning several family and personal events. He was arranging accommodation for his immediate family ahead of his niece's wedding and he was looking forward to a new charter job."
The HMNZS Wellington began to tow the Erie to New Plymouth yesterday. Once at port a detailed examination will be carried out on the boat. Mr Blair said he hoped forensic tests would shed more light on what happened to his brother.
To date more than $16,000 has been donated through a givealittle page to search for Kerry.
"We are extremely grateful for the generosity of family and friends. We have been overwhelmed by the support," Peter Blair said.
The money will go toward costs of the family's private search operation.
Mr Blair had two daughters and a son, four grandchildren and four brothers and sisters. The family is planning a memorial service to remember the 55-year-old.
- The Marlborough Express
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