Fishing boat on seabed intact

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
journeyman
SUPPLIED
LOCATED: Police divers have found the Journeyman which went missing 14 months ago.

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A Timaru fishing boat missing for 14 months has been found thanks to the sinking of a container ship off Tauranga.

And its finding has disproved speculation it might have been hit by a log carrier leaving the Port of Timaru.

The Police Dive Team located the Journeyman on the ocean floor in 27 metres of water, seven nautical miles (13km) off the coast of Timaru on Tuesday.

The boat vanished in November 2011.

The body of its owner, fisherman Peter Hunter, 59, of Pleasant Point, was found soon after, 2.5 nautical miles south of where the Journeyman has now been found.

Late in December a ship surveying shipping lanes told Maritime New Zealand of a possible vessel on the sea floor. Police were told. This week was the first time the dive squad had been available to check the information, Mid-South Canterbury police area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said yesterday.

The dive team, Maritime New Zealand and PrimePort staff went to the site on the pilot boat on Tuesday.

The Journeyman was found at the co-ordinates the survey ship had provided.

Although the water was very murky, and visibility was down to one metre, the divers were able to positively identify the Journeyman.

There was no damage to the craft, but there was an indication it had probably capsized due to "displacement by the load", Mr Gaskin said. It appeared the boat had still been fishing when it went down. Finding the boat in such a condition disproved the suggestion it had been hit by a log ship, he said.

The boat would not be salvaged as the water was too deep.

Information gained by the divers will be provided to both the coroner and Maritime New Zealand. Maritime New Zealand was particularly interested in the incident as the boat was the same design as the Easy Rider, which sank in Foveaux Strait in March last year with the loss of eight lives.

It was the sinking of the container ship Rena, after it hit the Astrolabe reef off Tauranga in October 2011, that was responsible for the Journeyman being found. Mr Gaskin said as a result of that incident, Maritime New Zealand had contracted a company to survey shipping routes around the New Zealand coast.

It was while the shipping lanes off the Timaru port were being mapped, that the fishing boat was discovered.

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- The Timaru Herald

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