Fishing boat tragedy: Cambridge friends returned to Three Kings to fulfill their fishing dream

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A rogue wave reportedly hit the Enchanter near Murimotu Island, breaking the bridge. Video / NZ Herald / Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust

A Cambridge publican was returning to the Far North in an attempt to catch a marlin after making a similar trip to the remote Three Kings fishing spot three years ago.

Richard Bright, 63, and his companion Mike Lovett, 72, packed up their car on Wednesday morning and headed to Mangōnui to join the five-day fishing charter.

Mike Lovett had taken time off from The Oaks Stud in Cambridge to take part in the fishing charter.  Photo / Provided
Mike Lovett had taken time off from The Oaks Stud in Cambridge to take part in the fishing charter. Photo / Provided

But the long-awaited fishing trip turned into tragedy as the couple were among five men who lost their lives or are still missing when a large wave capsized their charter boat Enchanter near North Cape.

Ten people were on board the Enchanter when it sank and five people who were winched to safety have since been released from Kaitaia Hospital, including the boat’s captain, Lance Goodhew.

The bodies of four people have been recovered and a full-scale air and sea search continues today for the remaining person.

Long-time friend Rick Williams met Bright for a beer at his bar, the Group One Turf Bar, on Tuesday night just before leaving when he had also just seen Lovett working at his pure-bred stud. blood.

It was the second time the couple had gone on a fishing charter to Les Trois Rois.

“They had been there once and it was Richard’s wish to catch a marlin. He had none. He had caught all the other forms of fish so he went back this year to go and get a marlin.”

But Williams is unsure if his good friend Bright and longtime colleague Lovett fulfilled the dream that was shattered when a big wave split the boat they were staying on.

Yesterday was a difficult day for the stud manager after losing three friends – Bright, Lovett and Mark Sanders, a 43-year-old father of three and builder of Te Awamutu – in the ocean. Two other Cambridge men are also reported missing or dead.

“It was just an incredibly bad day. I’m not even family and I feel terrible so I can’t think about it or understand it.”

Richard Bright had returned to the Iles des Trois Rois to fish for a marlin.  Photo / Provided
Richard Bright had returned to the Iles des Trois Rois to fish for a marlin. Photo / Provided

He described Bright as a “sympathetic clown” and said his death was a terrible loss not just for his friends and family, but also for the wider Cambridge community to which he gave a lot of money through the through his bar.

“We were very close. He was a larger-than-life character. He was a modern-day Basil Fawlty. He could say the most inappropriate things to his customers when they walked into the bar and no one cared. cared, they were coming back for Suite.”

Williams had also known Lovett for many years, both as a friend and, for the past 16 years, also as an employee of The Oaks.

Two of the men killed in the boat tragedy were returning for the second time to the Three Kings Islands in the Far North to try to catch a marlin.  Photo / Provided
Two of the men killed in the boat tragedy were returning for the second time to the Three Kings Islands in the Far North to try to catch a marlin. Photo / Provided

He said the father of four adult children was a “good guy and a good family man”.

“He was an old-school Kiwi, he had his ways, he was a creature of habit and what he did was what he did. A very likeable guy, very consistent, he showed up every days at work and you could ‘I don’t wish for a better worker.’

Williams said it was such a shame that the tragedy took all three of their lives in one day.

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