Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mystery on a calm night

This sad news from New Zealand, reported by Kay Blundell of the Dominion Post, is rather depressing to read:
Mystery surrounds the deaths of two experienced Levin fishermen whose boat took on water and later sank.

Grieving relatives say the men's 4.2-metre aluminium boat found with just its tip protruding from the water before it disappeared may have been flooded by a rogue wave or hit a submerged object.

Steven Michael Militch, 55, and Billy Tane Apiata, 51, were found in calm seas on a moonlit night about 4.5 kilometres off the Horowhenua coast, just south of Hokio Beach, about 2.30am yesterday.

Mr Apiata was dead but Mr Militch was still warm. The men, who worked together at the local meatworks, were found 1km apart after a four-hour sea and air search. They still wore their lifejackets in the warm water.

They had set out for a day's fishing on Monday morning. The alarm was raised about 9.30pm when Mr Militch's son saw his father's vehicle and boat trailer near Waitarere. Divers found the boat upside down in 27m of water last night. Police said there were no signs of damage to the hull and it would be inspected further today.

Maritime New Zealand was investigating and the coroner would determine the causes of death.

Search co-ordinator Sergeant Bill Nicholson said: "It is mysterious we do not know what made the boat tip in or how long they had been in the water."

When Mr Militch was pulled from the water, rescuers hoped he would survive. "They noticed he was still warm, rushed him to Foxton boat ramp to meet a Westpac rescue helicopter but, when paramedics checked for vital signs, he was already dead."

Another mysterious incident nearby five years ago claimed the lives of three men. Their boat was never found.

Kapiti coastguard president Rob Faulke said conditions were near-perfect. "The moon was stronger than our spotlights. They had lifejackets, a radio. I can only surmise being in the water so long caused their deaths."

The only equipment they did not have was a marine locator beacon.

Mr Militch's brother, Peter, believed a rogue wave engulfed the boat or it hit an object. "He would not have done anything dangerous. He was devoted to his family, the church and would take time out to do anything for anybody."

Mr Apiata's stepdaughter Marcy Anderson said fishing was his time out. "It was sad Tangaroa [god of the sea] took him."

Because the cause is still a mystery, being it was a calm day, if the mishap was caused by a wave, the was would likely to be a freaque wave. But no one can be certain about it at any rate. Just a sad mystery.

I learned the new word "Tangaroa" being the Polynesian sea-god. In Polynesian mythology, according to Micha F. Lindemans, Tangaroa separated the sky from the earth and
He is a son the earth-goddess Papa, who had so much water in her body that it swelled one day and burst forth, becoming the ocean. He may appear as a huge fish giving birth to all the sea creatures, including mermen and mermaids. From the latter sprang humanity, according to certain myths, so people are really fish who have lost their fish-like appearance. Others say also that human beings were once aquatic, hence their hairlessness. Tangaroa changes regularly into a green lizard, signifying fine weather. He only needs to breath once in 24 hours, so huge is he (this breathing explains the tidal movement).
What an imaginative story! May be AlgoreJimmyHansen can use it to figure out a more convincing mumble jumble to blame human beings for causing global warming.

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