A verbal stoush between two truth seekers and a Napier yacht around the infamous 1998 Sounds murder case has come alive.

Author Ian Wishart claims he has debunked a theory held by a group called the Maritime Research Group, led by Warwick Jenness, which he says claimed a Napier yacht was involved in the case.

Mr Wishart claims the group mistook the 40ft ketch Antares for a boat of the same name owned by an Australian family, which was caught up in a cocaine bust in Australia in 1998.

Mr Wishart said it there was no link between the two boats, and the Maritime Research Group constructed a "conspiracy theory" wrongly because of the Australian Anteres' drug links.


But Mr Jenness, director of the Maritime Research Group, said the claim Mr Wishart has made in the article has no relevance whatsoever to the group's beliefs.

"It was a different vessel. It's not the Napier-based vessel. There's no similarity. It's a different boat entirely," Mr Jenness said.

"He's trying to sell some more books. Quite frankly he's a loose cannon.

"There was no local boat in New Zealand that actually matched the description of the ketch that witnesses saw.

"It was definitely from outside New Zealand, and the one in Napier has no bearing whatsoever on this case, and certainly doesn't look anything at all like the ketch that was seen by so many people."

MRG provided their report to police in early 2016, who said there was no new information worth pursuing.

The report claimed several sightings from numerous people of both Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the days after their last confirmed sighting in Marlborough on January 1, 1998.

Chris Watson, the father of the man convicted of their murder, Scott Watson, said at the time the MRG report made some "quantum leaps" to reach some of its conclusions.

Antares was launched in Napier in 1964 by owner Keith Kennedy.

Hawke's Bay Today contacted the current owner of Antares, who said he did not want to be involved in the story.