Missing Katikati boatie named

By Kiri Gillespie

A missing Katikati man who was swept away when his boat capsized at Bowentown Heads has been named.

He is 52-year-old Tim Mair.

Shoreline searches will continue to look for him today.

Nick Mair, said his family were very appreciative of the efforts of the Police, Search and Rescue volunteers, Coastguard, Surf Lifesaving Club, Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mine Rescue workers and other individuals who were assisting in the search for his father.

Waikato Police search and Rescue coordinator, Constable Dave Pitchford, said an extensive, air land and sea search of the inner Tauranga Harbour had been conducted over Monday night and yesterday.

"To date the 52-year-old Katikati farmer remains unaccounted for and starting today we will be continuing a two day shoreline search phase, if we haven't located Tim by then we will then re-evaluate our options."

Mr Pitchford said that while Mr Mair was an experienced boatee conditions at the time he attempted to cross the Bowentown Bar late on Monday afternoon were marginal and it was concerning that though lifejackets were being carried on the boat, not all those on-board were wearing them.

"We understand the boat was struck by a rogue wave which overturned the vessel, in situations such as that it's too late to reach for a lifejacket and put it on, the ocean is a great place for recreation but it demands our respect.

The 52-year-old was fishing with his 15-year-old son and 23-year-old daughter, 7-year-old grandson and a 14-year-old friend of the teenage boy on Monday when a rogue wave is believed to have capsized the boat they were in.

Only the 7-year-old was wearing a lifejacket. All except the missing man swam to Matakana Island where they were rescued.

Waihi Beach boatie Warren Coffey and a friend were returning from a fishing trip when they saw the upside-down boat, investigated and noticed people on Matakana Island.

Mr Coffey said the four "looked quite young" and began waving their arms for help, so they approached.

"They were cold and shivering. They seemed to be talking though, they were fine," Mr Coffey told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"We asked them if there was anyone else on the water, rang the coastguard, yeah, that's when the coastguard hit the water and a couple of minutes later we heard the helicopter. She was all go then."

Search and rescue parties, including a police Eagle helicopter, scoured the area until midnight and resumed again yesterday.

Waikato police Sergeant Warren Shaw said there had been lifejackets on board the boat and the situation would have been "very different" had they been used.

"It's hard in a tragedy like this. The family are really feeling it but it's important [wearing lifejackets] and we keep on seeing situations like this.

"We all know it, you must wear your lifejacket. It's not just to put on when you feel like it."

Mr Shaw said the missing man was a "very experienced boatie, very experienced with the area".

The police helicopter, surf lifesaving IRBs and coastguard vessels were used during the search yesterday.

Members of the Newmont Mines Rescue Unit, Land Search and Rescue and local fire brigades helped with land searches of Matakana Island and Waihi Beach.

"We always hold a glimmer of hope but as the search progresses we have to be realistic with what we are looking for," Mr Shaw said.

The search was reassessed last night, with only shoreline searches expected to continue today.

Waihi Beach coastguard duty officer Brian Grimwood said sea conditions were moderate to rough when the boat capsized.

"It wasn't very rough outside the bar but inside it gets quite dangerous from time to time, depending on the direction of the swell."

Mr Grimwood said the boat was close to Matakana Island when it capsized.

Former Waihi Beach Community Board chair Trish Coates said the sand bar at Bowentown Heads was notorious.

"That bar is terrible. It's really bad. They run courses to tell people about it. They do everything they can but people don't realise how bad it is.

"It's extremely dangerous."

Ms Coates said the sea conditions had been particularly heavy lately, with winds blowing offshore.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, a woman died in the water at nearby Anzac Bay.

It is believed the 76-year-old was from Morrinsville and had been swimming with a friend when she collapsed in the water.

Attempts made by bystanders to revive her were unsuccessful.

Members of the mine rescue team assisted in removing the woman's body from the beach.

It is not yet known how she died.

Conditions at the beach were calm and shallow, as the tide was going out.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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