A ferocious storm battering Northland this week came close to claiming three other vessels including a yacht that started sinking off Russell with its owner aboard.

On Monday the storm claimed the 14-metre yacht The Essence and the life of its owner, well-known Tauranga sailor Stuart Pedersen. Pedersen was on his way home from Fiji when the boat sank in 5-6m swells and powerful winds about 20km north of Cape Brett.

On Wednesday three other vessels had to be rescued but without loss of life or serious damage.

READ MORE:
Premium - Tauranga sailor and Act Party candidate Stuart Pedersen remembered for 'giving heart'
Tauranga sailor Stuart Pedersen dies after yacht sinks north of Cape Brett
Northland high seas rescue: Sailor mourned, wife recovering

Advertisement

About 2.40pm the owner of the 11-metre yacht Anna contacted Russell Radio to say water was coming in faster than he could pump it out and was already past the floorboards.

Russell police Constable Mike Gorrie said the live-aboard sailor, aged around 80, was moored some distance off Russell boat ramp.

Volunteer firefighters save a yacht from sinking after it started taking on water near Russell. Photo / Stephen Western
Volunteer firefighters save a yacht from sinking after it started taking on water near Russell. Photo / Stephen Western

A maritime officer from the Northland Regional Council managed to get on board to help manoeuvre the vessel under its own power to Russell wharf.

There volunteers from the Russell Fire Brigade were able to pump out the concrete yacht and prevent it sinking.

A regional council vessel then towed it to clear water, with the brigade's portable pump still operating, and it limped the rest of the way to Ashby's Boatyard in Opua for repairs.

The water was entering from the bow area but it was not immediately clear how it was coming in. Gorrie said the sailor was concerned because the boat was his home and only possession.

A harbourmaster's boat at the scene of the grounding in Waipiro Bay. Photo / NRC
A harbourmaster's boat at the scene of the grounding in Waipiro Bay. Photo / NRC

Also on Wednesday a 100-tonne vessel broke its mooring and ran aground on rocks at Waipiro Bay, east of Russell.

Northland harbourmaster Jim Lyle said staff managed to secure the boat, a former commercial vessel converted to recreational use, and ensure it was not leaking diesel.

Advertisement

It floated free overnight and with the owner overseas a contractor towed it to Opua wharf on Thursday to check for damage.

The 100-tonne vessel broke its mooring and ran aground at Waipiro Bay, near Russell. Photo / NRC
The 100-tonne vessel broke its mooring and ran aground at Waipiro Bay, near Russell. Photo / NRC

Another yacht which broke its mooring at McLeod's Bay, Whangārei Heads, was being towed to Whangārei Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Stuart Pedersen's wife, Pamela, was discharged from Whangārei Hospital yesterday and has returned home to Tauranga.

She was initially in a critical condition when saved in a dramatic rescue mission involving the Air Force and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter on Monday.

Two other sailors on board The Essence were discharged from hospital the following day.

A Maritime New Zealand investigation into the sinking is under way.