Authorities will decide this morning whether to resume the search for a man washed overboard from a yacht in huge seas north of New Zealand.

The body of a second man who died after he was apparently struck by rigging on the yacht Platino remains on the boat.

Crew member Nick Saull was left on the damaged yacht after the survivors made it onboard container ship Southern Lily around 3pm yesterday.

The search for a 63-year-old man, who is understood to have been swept away after the yacht sustained damage to its rigging 550km north of New Zealand, ended for the night by 6pm yesterday when the Air Force Orion aircraft returned to land.


An update would be provided this morning, Maritime New Zealand said.

Mr Saull is understood to have died when he was hit by the boat's rigging after it was damaged in strong winds on Monday morning.

A rescue line was used to help get Platino's owners Tory and Brent McKeogh and friend Ross McKee safely on board but large 3m swells made it too difficult to transfer Mr Saull's body.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre search and rescue mission coordinator John Dickson said it was a difficult operation getting the three crew members on board the container ship and praised the master and crew of the Southern Lily.

"It was not easy to get the three crew members from the yacht to the much larger ship in those sea conditions - they've done a tremendous job.

"We are obviously disappointed that it was not safe to transfer the body of the deceased crew member, but safety must come first. We will keep track of the position of the yacht."

Mr Saull, an Auckland boat builder, was remembered by friends as a devoted father and husband who loved the ocean.

His wife, Jan Saull, was reportedly in a state of shock and wanted to understand exactly what had happened, family friend Mark Readman told the Herald.

"She's just completely shocked ... he was just her world. The family is, as you can imagine, wondering what's happened. It's such a tragedy."

Friends left touching messages for Mrs Saull and her "gentle hubby" on Facebook, with one commenting "mate, we miss you already".

Broadcaster Trudi Nelson wrote: "Life can change in an instant. Am heartbroken. Amazing dad, husband, rugby coach, surf club stalwart, sailor, all-round top Kiwi bloke."

Mr Saull, the head of Brin Wilson Boat Builders, a boat building and repair company - based in the Gulf Harbour Marina, in Whangaparaoa - had a passion for the sea and all things water-related, including working as a life guard and teaching young life guards.