A search is continuing for a fishing vessel, the Betty Gee, that went missing after its owner went overboard off the Coromandel Peninsula earlier this week.
It comes as a new forecasting system to help locate people and boats missing in coastal waters may soon be available in New Zealand.
Will Fransen, the owner of the boat, was rescued after spending nearly 24 hours in the water without a lifejacket, but his boat remains at large.
He described his gruelling ordeal to 1News yesterday, saying he’s “grateful to be alive”.
Fransen said his boat has an old English Gardner engine and “probably got enough to go 500 miles or something” with the engine throttle on idle.
“So the boat, my beloved Betty Gee, is still chugging off to the islands,” he said.
“It’s only half full, but it’s probably got enough to go 500 miles or something – it’ll keep going.”
Finding the vessel may take a lot of luck, as tides, winds and currents can make it difficult to predict where the boat could be.
Whakatāne Sportfishing Club’s Heyden Johnston said: “There are about 200 boats a day been fishing out of this area, so there’s a good chance if anything’s locally to be seen, especially a vessel like that, then it will get spotted.”
NIWA scientist Christo Rautenbach said the new forecasting system under development could help narrow down the search radius for missing vessels. The system is a joint project between Maritime New Zealand and NIWA and is due to start later this month.
“We kind of get an envelope of an idea of where we think this boat should end up statistically,” he said.
Rautenbach added that the system could be ready later this year if the organisations get funding for the project.
However, hopes for finding the Betty Gee are tempered with realism for its owner.
“It’s a pinprick, isn’t it?” he said.