Missing man's boat spotted

Last updated 07:37 17/03/2014

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A boat believed to belong to a missing Marlborough man has been spotted off the Taranaki coast.

The 9-metre boat was first spotted by crew on an air force P3 Orion early on Friday evening, 166 kilometres west- northwest of New Plymouth. It appeared to be in good condition.

William Kerry 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.

Tasman district communications manager 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."

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.

He had enough fuel to navigate the entire New Zealand coastline.

Family and friends organised private aerial searches for Mr Blair last week.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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