Enchanter fishing tragedy: Mother of skipper says her son was in the sea for 4 hours clinging on to plastic

The mother of the skipper involved in the fishing charter that sank off Northland’s coast says her son was in the sea for four hours before he was rescued.

June Goodhew told the Herald she is grateful her prayers were answered and her son Lance is alive.

“After the wave crashed into the boat Lance and Kobe [O’Neil] were hanging on to a piece of plastic. Lance is in a state, this whole tragedy is raw for everyone and we feel the loss of the five people. But I feel blessed my prayers were answered,” Goodhew said.

Goodhew says she is proud of her son who was involved in the rescue during the Whakaari volcano eruption where 22 people were killed.

“Lance has saved so many people at sea and rescue vessels. One of his boats was near White Island, it had two doctors on board which is good.Lance is a very brave man, I am very proud of him but I feel so sad for his grief.”

The popular fishing charter vessel The Enchanter was on a five-day trip to the Three Kings Islands north of Cape Reinga. It was known for taking anglers to some of New Zealand’s best fishing spots.

Ten people were on board when The Enchanter sank on Sunday night during the storm that swept over Northland. A rogue wave is understood to have hit the boat near Murimotu Island, breaking the bridge.

Five bodies have been recovered and five people were pulled from the water alive, including Lance Goodhew who could not be reached for comment.

The survivors were in the water for four hours, some clinging to parts of the broken and battered Enchanter before they were rescued.

“Lance told me the wave was over 30 feet. He was in the water for four hours. They had two beacons, one was released at the wheel when the wave struck and the other was manually pressed,” June Goodhew said.

Video footage obtained by the Herald shows the harrowing moments five survivors were rescued in the pitch black of night.

Northern Rescue Helicopter rescuers can be seen climbing on to the deck of the vessel, which barely breaches the surface, to assist the five men.

The video shows a helicopter crewman lowered into the water with lifesaving equipment, as one man leaps into the water off the wreckage and goes to him

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has launched an inquiry into the Far North fishing boat tragedy.

A TAIC spokesperson said a protection order has been placed on all debris of the charter boat to protect evidence.

“Anyone finding debris should report this to the police.”

Five people who were plucked to safety from the boat are now out of hospital.

TAIC investigators in the Far North will be speaking to people who may have information about the Enchanter and are encouraging people with information to come forward.

The commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have – or are likely to have – significant implications for transport safety.

An emergency beacon alert was received on Sunday night around 8 pm from southeast of North Cape, according to Maritime NZ spokesman Nick Burt.

Maritime NZ runs the Rescue Coordination Centre which is in charge of the rescue effort.

A helicopter was first on scene at the remote location, arriving around 11.40 pm, Burt said.

Multiple agencies were involved in the rescue including police, Westpac rescue helicopters, local fishing vessels, and the NZ Defence Force.

Lance Goodhew ran three boats through his fishing charter company – trips have been suspended for the time being.

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