Rough seas and swells of up to 20 feet had been forecast the night the 40-foot commercial fishing vessel Easy Rider left New Zealand’s Bluff Harbour bound for Stewart Island with nine people on board.
Later on, heavy rain and gale-force winds swept through the area, causing rough seas and "atrocious" conditions most boaties would do anything to avoid.
The marine forecast put out for Foveaux Strait at 4:09 p.m. Wednesday stated "gale-force warning in force."
"Sea becoming very rough for a time. Southwest swell rising to [13 feet]. Poor visibility in rain developing this evening, clearing Thursday afternoon," it said.
Whether those on board Easy Rider knew it or not, they were sailing into danger. And revelations that at least some were not wearing life jackets and the fact that no emergency communication device was activated — it is not clear whether one was on board — might have sealed their fate from the start.