The body of the ill-fated Francie's skipper has been returned to his family and is lying in state at a cruising club.

Bill McNatty will be taken to the Kaipara Cruising Club in Helensville today where family and friends will pay their final respects.

McNatty and seven men drowned when the charter vessel ran into trouble on the bar at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour on Saturday afternoon.

Doomed Francie's frantic last call
'How many are alive?'
The man missing to the sea
Faces of Francie

Miraculously three people on the vessel survived.


One man is still missing off the west coast.

Searchers have this week continued scaled back shoreline and aerial surveillance for the remaining victim.

Wreckage off the Francie has washed up along the west coast. However, the vessel still has not been found.

Francie deckhand Gus Tupou, who was not on the ill-fated vessel that day, posted he was "feeling lost" after the tragedy.

The teenagers that were on Muriwai beach during the rescue effort for the charter boat The Francie speak to the Herald about their experience

Under a photo of his boss and friend in the wheelhouse, Tupou wrote: "RIP ma brother til we meet again."

In a death notice McNatty is being remembered as a devoted and loving father to Kathleen Hotere and a special soulmate and partner to Wendy Marshall.

His body would be lying in state at the Kaipara Cruising Club where he previously served as commodore and was on the committee.

The club flagpole continues to fly the New Zealand flag at half-mast as the community mourns the tragedy.

Saturday's death toll matches the Easy Rider tragedy where eight lives were lost in 2012 when the boat ferrying muttonbirders was swamped by a huge wave in Foveaux Strait.