Waikato Regional Council has launched an investigation into a failed bar crossing which landed three men in the water when their boat capsized in Tairua yesterday.

A full-scale rescue mission was launched involving the Coastguard, Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Surf Life Saving and police to bring the men to shore and tow the boat back in.

Photos supplied to the Herald by an onlooker also shows the boat capsized as the skipper tried to turn the boat while crossing the Tairua bar after surviving the first large wave front on.

The moment wave takes out fishing boat


Waikato Regional Council maritime services team leader Richard Barnett said any incident when a boat overturned and people ended up in water was considered serious enough to investigate providing it was timely enough and the council had the resources.

The investigation could take up to two weeks and involved interviewing occupants of the boats and any witnesses.

"The key to the investigation is making sure any information we have got is accurate. The fact that there are very good photos - we are assuming they are of the actual event - and if we can assess that accurately by talking to that person and tie the two together."

The fishing boat attempts to cross the bar at Tairua in Coromandel yesterday. Photo / Tim Hunt
The fishing boat attempts to cross the bar at Tairua in Coromandel yesterday. Photo / Tim Hunt

Mr Barnett said the purpose of the investigation was to find out what happened and if there were any other learnings which could be taken from it or if any compliance action needed to be taken as the compliance organisation for the region.

Police had earlier said the three men were not wearing lifejackets, despite national maritime rules requiring lifejackets to be worn while crossing bars.

The council has the power to prosecute against skippers operating a vessel in a dangerous manner, while failure to wear a lifejacket would more likely incur a $200 penalty.

When the boat capsized at 8.30am the harbourmaster had set the warning at a level two, which advises boaties to navigate with caution.

A level one indicates conditions are normal and a level three means it is not recommended to cross.

The status was lifted to a level three at about 9.30am.