Weeping family members and distraught friends of a young fisherman still missing at sea last night held vigil on the shoreline north of Auckland yesterday.
But as search boats continued to scour the waters, the girlfriend of Nicholas Stubbs said she was praying for a miracle.
"Somehow the hardest day imaginable has come ... life is unthinkable without you," Carissa De Felice posted on Facebook.
She said she wasn't giving up hope of finding Mr Stubbs alive.
Police confirmed the identities yesterday of the two fishermen who went missing after setting off in a fibreglass boat near Warkworth on Tuesday evening.
They were 37-year-old Stewart Atutahi, from Snells Beach, and 22-year-old Mr Stubbs, from Warkworth.
Mr Stubbs worked at Puhoi Valley Cheese and Mr Atutahi's LinkedIn profile said he also worked there as a cheesemaker.
The pair were last seen when they set off from Martins Bay, telling loved ones they wouldn't be long.
The body of Mr Atutahi, who was skippering the fibreglass boat, was found on Wednesday afternoon near Kawau Island.
Brian Stubbs made a heartfelt tribute to his son Nick yesterday.
"He's my only son. He's a really neat kid, into his outdoor pursuits, motorcycling, fishing."
He told the Herald through tears he wanted to thank all of the people involved in the search for his boy.
The pair had been out fishing previously without any trouble.
The anxious dad and his daughter, Janelle, spent yesterday morning at Martins Bay as friends in fishing boats searched offshore.
"It's just waiting for news. It's either sitting at home or sitting here."
He said his son could swim, "but not great distances".
At least five boats, with friends and supporters on board, were out searching yesterday.
For much of the morning, Mr Stubbs' father and sister sat at a picnic table on the grass overlooking Martins Bay with a handful of friends, awaiting news.
About 20 friends in fishing boats returned to shore just before midday where they were greeted on the beach with hugs and tears. Several remained there before dusk sharing a few drinks.
School friends of Nicholas Stubbs said they'd keep searching the sea every day until they found their mate.
Nick Betley, 24, who went to Mahurangi College with Mr Stubbs said he'd been out on boats searching for the past two days.
Mr Betley described Nicholas Stubbs as the life of the party.
"He's just a typical, awesome dude." Mr Stubbs was keen on the outdoors, he said, and knew what he was doing on the water.
"It just makes no sense. They're both experienced [fishermen], it's not a small boat, the tides were calm."
Rodney area commander Inspector Mark Fergus said it was not known how the men got into trouble.
"At this stage we don't know [what happened], we're focusing our efforts more on finding the remaining man."
5 Tips for staying safe on the water
The inaugural Safer Boating Week begins today. Twenty-three boaties have died already on the water this year, matching the total for all of last year. Maritime NZ director Keith Manch said the aim of the week was to remind people how quickly things can go wrong.
1. Check your boat
Make sure you have the right safety equipment and that it is all up to date.
2. Wear your lifejacket
Two-thirds of those who died in boating accidents might have been saved if they had worn lifejackets.
3. Stay in touch
Take two forms of waterproof communication equipment.
4. Check the maritime weather forecast
Don't get caught out by conditions.
5. Avoid alcohol
Drinking can impair reactions and judgment.
- Additional reporting APNZ