The sea always drew 'Cossie' back

23:02, Sep 17 2012
Bluff man Jim Cosgrove speaks about his son, missing skipper Kevin Cosgrove.
LITTLE HOPE: Bluff man Jim Cosgrove speaks about his son, missing skipper Kevin Cosgrove.

Former Bluff man Kevin Cosgrove had several jobs in his lifetime - but the sea always drew him back.

Mr Cosgrove's father Jim, who still lives in Bluff, said yesterday he feared the worst immediately after learning Kevin and his sole crewman, Nirvana Drew Reynolds, 16, had gone missing while aboard the Governor during the weekend.

The wreckage of what is believed to be the vessel was found, but there was no sign of the two fishermen.

The Governor
NOW WRECKED: The Governor, which is missing in Fiordland with skipper Kevin Cosgrove and crewman Nirvana Drew Reynolds on board.

"Right from the start, I reckoned he was a goner. It's the cold water in there . . . and tangled nets are hard to get out of on a small boat," Mr Cosgrove said.

Kevin Cosgrove, known as Cossie by all his mates, went into panelbeating when he left school but, like many Bluffies, soon wound up working on a fishing boat.

During the years he had dabbled in managing pubs throughout the country, including the town's Golden Age tavern and a pub in Dobson on the West Coast, which closed shortly after the Pike River mining tragedy, Mr Cosgrove said.


But his son, whom he had with wife Mona, kept returning to life as a fisherman, and a few months ago had bought the Governor, originally a Bluff boat.

"He kept going back. He always liked fishing," Mr Cosgrove said.

His son had always been well liked, he said.

"He was never really a kid. He was always big and boisterous . . . he was just good and cheerful. He's a real mate to people."

His son would turn up in the south out of the blue now and again, usually starting with a phone call to his old man.

"This gravelly voice would come down the line and I'd say ‘you not pouring beer tonight?', and he'd say ‘open your bloody front door and you'll find out'," Mr Cosgrove said.

One of Cossie's friends, Russell Dixon, described his mate of "bloody years" as a real hard doer and a great father to his two children, a son and daughter in their 20s.

"Jeez, we had some laughs. Old Cossie had a lot of mates," he said.

Further north, those on the West Coast were also left stunned by the news two of its men were presumed drowned.

West Coast Coastguard skipper Doug Griffin said Mr Cosgrove was a well-known fisherman around Greymouth and had helped rescue two people from a boat that caught fire off Greymouth in April.

He worked for Greymouth-based company Westfleet Seafoods Ltd.

Yesterday, police said the weather forecast and tidal movements meant a safe dive to the wreckage site was not possible until at least the weekend.

Western Southland sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Cynthia Fairley said searchers planned to use the New Zealand Police dive squad and a remote observation vehicle (ROV) at the wreckage of a vessel at Yates Pt, believed to be the Governor.

However, that would depend on weather, she said.

The New Zealand Navy was unable to assist because of other commitments, she said.

An extensive search had been carried out for the missing boat. Searchers included five fishing vessels, the Coastguard fixed-wing plane from Invercargill and a Southern Lakes helicopter from Te Anau.

On Sunday the fishing vessel Charisma used sonar equipment to confirm there was a wreckage resting on the sea bed about 50m below the surface about 2.5km offshore from Yates Pt. It was believed to be the Governor, Ms Fairley said.

"At this stage it is disappointing that we have been unable to locate the fishermen. Considering the tide and wind at the time this tragic event occurred we do not believe that the men made it ashore and it is not expected that they survived," she said.

Yesterday, the operation was scaled back to a limited search. The incident is the fourth boating tragedy in Southland this year.

In January, Shaun Bethune, 23, and Lindsay Cullen, 59, died after the boat they were on, carrying five people, capsized near White Island in Foveaux Strait.

The remaining people on board were rescued by Rewai Karetai, who was one of nine members of an extended family aboard the Easy Rider, which in March was struck by a rogue wave in the strait during a trip to the Titi Islands. Invercargill man Dallas Reedy, who spent 18 hours in the water, was the sole survivor.

Two months later Bruce Gordon, of Te Anau, and Darren Allen, of Wairio, and their crayfishing boat KCee went missing in Fiordland.




Saturday: 11.30am: The Governor skipper radios another boat to say its net was tangled near Yates Pt, Fiordland. The Governor is later reported overdue to dock in Milford Sound. On board 60-year-old Kevin Cosgrove, of Dobson, and Nirvana Drew Reynolds, 16, of Blackball.

4.50pm: Fishing vessels start a search for the Governor. A debris trail in the area found fish bins, hatches, pieces of wood and small plastic containers.

Sunday: 3pm: Search and rescue team from Southern Lakes Helicopter find debris about 36km south west of Yates Point. The fishing vessel Charisma used sonar equipment to confirm there was wreckage, resting on the sea bed about 50m below the surface, believed to be the Governor, about 2.5km offshore from Yates Pt.

Yesterday: Search scaled back and police believe Mr Cosgrove and Mr Reynolds did not make it ashore and their survival is unlikely.

The Southland Times