Stuart Pedersen had almost made it home.

The well-known Tauranga sailor and local Act Party candidate was travelling back from a trip around the Pacific Islands with wife Pamela, her brother-in-law, and fellow Tauranga sailor Bruce Goodwin.

The group was travelling in Pedersen's 47-foot yacht; a yacht he had planned to sell after this last trip.

The sailors had nearly reached Cape Brett in Northland when the yacht began filling with water in turbulent seas about 1pm on Monday.

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When the group went to activate the liferaft, it blew away in 40- to 50-knot winds.

As the yacht sank around

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