A veteran round-the-world sailor whose body was found in mangroves near Russell on Saturday morning is thought to have fallen from a dinghy while rowing out to his yacht.

Weather conditions were poor on Friday evening when 80-year-old Bill Sellers is believed to have been returning to his boat at Matauwhi Bay.

His body was found in mangroves at Uruti Bay early on Saturday morning by a member of the public.

Police were called and volunteers from the Russell Fire Brigade helped recover his body.


A celebration of Seller's life will be held at Russell Boating Club at Matauwhi Bay from 2pm this Saturday, September 14.
Family and friends are invited to come along and share their memories of the long-time Russell resident and sailing legend.

Senior Constable Mike Gorrie, of Russell police, said weather conditions were ''terrible'' around the time he was thought to have fallen from his dinghy.

The incident was a reminder to people using small boats to wear a lifejacket even if they were only going a short distance, in this case thought to be less than 100m.

The Kororāreka Marae Komiti declared a rāhui over Pomare Bay, which includes Matauwhi, Uruti and Orongo bays.

Komiti members ask people to not gather shellfish or catch fish in the area until after September 12.

It's not the first such incident at Matauwhi Bay.

In 2010 48-year-old Ronald Raison, who also lived on board his vessel, disappeared while rowing out to his yacht Azarmyth in wild weather. His body was found two weeks later in Te Puna Inlet, on the other side of the Bay of Islands.

A coroner later ruled that he had drowned after falling from his dinghy.