Northland now has its own oddball version of the Mary Celeste - the American cutter found abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872.

It is still a mystery as to the fate of the crew aboard the Mary Celeste found on December 6, 1872.

Less mystery surrounds a 3.6m runabout found with no crew aboard in the Whangarei Harbour on January 3, 2018.

The boat was "found" about 5.30pm yesterday. We say "found" - that was when it was observed to capsize after hitting the wake of another vessel.


It was unclear whether there was anyone aboard when the boat capsized and a search and rescue operation was launched.

It had been under way for three hours when the man who owned the boat observed the hubbub associated with a major S&R operation and realised they might be searching for him.

Turns out the man somehow lost control of the boat and it took off on him.

The Northern Advocate has pieced together some details of the incident but at edition time was yet to speak to anyone who knew how long the boat was zipping about before it capsized, or how the man lost control of the vessel.

The incident demonstrates the caution required when dealing with boats and the sea, even in relatively benign conditions.

Songrwiter Noel Coward once suggested that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Today, around midday, there probably won't be much sun.

But the tide off Northland's east coast will be extra full, and swells could be up to 4m high.


Any day, as our story on the runaway runabout demonstrates, you need to take care when boating.

But today especially, guarantee your safety and stay home.

As they say, the best cure for sea sickness is to sit under a tree.