The devastated father of the skipper killed yesterday when
his boat capsized near Greymouth, has spoken about the pain
of losing his only son in the tragedy.
Nicholas Eklund (36) and two crew members were returning to
port on fishing boat Lady Anna, when it rolled in heavy seas
on the Greymouth bar about 7.30am.
Two of the men managed to cling to a flotation device and
made it to shore, but Mr Eklund was washed off and drowned,
despite a frantic rescue attempt.
The tragedy was captured by Cobden photography student Bob
Speaking from his Christchurch home, Mike Eklund said he
learnt of his son's death when a family member called to tell
The loss of his son followed the death of his only other
child, a daughter, in a car accident a few years ago, Mr
''I'm upset ... My only son, my only surviving relative I
have is Nick.''
Mr Eklund said he had ''a lot of good memories of what Nick
was and how I'd like him to be remembered'' but was too upset
to comment further.
The skipper is understood to have been an experienced
fisherman, who had transferred to Lady Anna in the past three
Immediately following the accident, a person believed to be a
friend of Nicholas Eklund reportedly attacked the Talley's
office with an axe.
The independently owned Lady Anna, usually based in Nelson,
had been fishing for the company.
A 42-year-old Greymouth man, charged with wilful damage,
appeared in the Greymouth District Court yesterday.
A Talley's spokesman denied the incident had occurred.
''Our office was not attacked with an axe,'' he said,
refusing to comment further on the incident or the boating
Police, coastguard, the rescue helicopter, another fishing
vessel and members of the public were all involved in the
''Conditions at the time were very rough, with large waves
and a strong wind,'' a police spokesman said.
Sergeant Russell Glue, of Greymouth, said the vessel was
partially submerged when it rolled over, before popping back
up again and then rolling a second time, to end up in the
Mr Eklund was guiding the 15m Lady Anna over the bar when a
large wave crashed into it, flipping it and throwing the crew
into the water directly off the Blaketown Tip head.
Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Kevin Banaghan said two
distress beacon notifications belonging to the boat were
received when the vessel rolled.
The three men scrambled back on to the hull, before another
wave washed them off. Onlookers threw lifebuoys to the two
crew - a 27-year-old Greymouth man and a 42-year-old
Christchurch man - from the opposite tip head at Cobden, and
helped them ashore, but Mr Eklund was tossed about in the
Worried bystanders also threw a life jacket and buoy towards
him, but they were swept away from him.
''It just got worse and worse,'' Bob McAuliffe, a Cobden
photography student, said.
He was initially relieved to see the men climb on to the
''But the next time I saw the boat, they weren't there. The
waves were just so crazy. They just got washed off,'' he
''I was taking pictures and I saw the thing tip right before
''I couldn't believe it ... I was looking through the camera
and I see the thing go over.''
Mr Eklund was pulled unconscious from the water by local
surfer Steve Newby.
Police and St John crews spent 15 minutes performing CPR but
could not revive him and he was pronounced dead.
The survivors were taken to Grey Base Hospital. The
27-year-old was in a stable condition with grazes, and the
42-year-old was also stable, with hypothermia.
Mosgiel skipper Peter Scott, who used to own Lady Anna, said
hearing the news of its swamping was hard.
''I also knew the guy driving it ... so it's not so flash.''
He had owned the wooden-bottom trawler for seven years so it
held a lot of memories ''good and bad'', he said.
It had both float-free and manual beacons on board.
''It sounds like they went off automatically, so everyone
knew what was happening.''
Maritime New Zealand is investigating. -
APNZ/Greymouth Star/Westport News