Dog only aboard missing yacht found off Chatham Islands

Tafadzwa at anchor - inset is the missing sailor Paul van Rensburg, photo stuff.nz
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Missing man Paul van Rensburg has not been found on his yacht, drifting off the Chatham Islands, but his dog has been recovered alive.

The 40-year-old South African went missing after leaving Tauranga for Gisborne on March 12 with his dog, Juanita.

He was reported missing four days later and his 11-metre steel-hulled yacht, Tafadzwa, was spotted by an Air Force P3 Orion 110km west of the islands yesterday.

Geoff Lunt, of the Rescue Coordination Centre, said two men from a fishing vessel - who had been asked to divert to the yacht - managed to board Tafadzwa about 8am today.

'Unfortunately it seems Paul has fallen overboard. It appears his life raft, dinghy, emergency beacon and kayak were all still on board the yacht.'

Mr Lunt said Paul's dog, Juanita, was found alive and was being looked after by the fishing crew.

The fishing vessel would tow Tafadzwa to the Chatham Islands.

'We're naturally very disappointed not to have found Paul safe on board the yacht. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Unfortunately there is nothing further RCCNZ can do at this stage,' Mr Lunt said.

Mr van Rensburg had been heading to Gisborne to start a new job.

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