The New Zealand newspaper Marlborough Express is reporting that a mystery wreck found at the bottom of Picton Harbour may be missing yacht the Sioux,according to police.
Acting Area Commander Senior Sergeant Peter Payne said images provided by the Navy showed a boat about 10 metres long, which was consistent with the length of the Sioux.The Sioux broke free from its mooring at Waikawa Bay, near Picton, in June 2010 in stormy weather. Shortly after the Sioux's disappearance yacht rigging was reported in the water near where the wreck was found.
Police were unable to locate the rigging at the time but believe it could have come from the Sioux. Arrangements were being made for the police dive squad to investigate the find and confirm the identity of the launch, Payne said.
There were no boats other than the Sioux known to be missing in the Queen Charlotte Sound.
Police had been in contact with its owner.
The Sioux was reported missing on the weekend of June 5-7, 2010 from Waikawa Bay.
Its owner Paul Sugrue, of Rangiora, offered a $5000 reward for information that led to its recovery.
The wreck of a 9.8 metre boat was found about 400m east of Wedge Point on Friday during a Defence Force training exercise. Tasman District Police communications manager Barbara Dunn said police had viewed images of the boat recorded by the Navy using an underwater robot that scanned the Picton Harbour seafloor for navigational obstructions.
Police were making arrangements to make a closer inspection of the wreck. Growth on the hull suggested the launch had been underwater for five to 10 years, but this might be proved wrong on closer inspection, Dunn said.
“We don't know anything for sure at this stage. Until we've had the chance to investigate it fully we're keeping an open mind.”
Police would not comment over social media speculation that the Picton Harbour wreck might be connected to the disappearance of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart in 1998. A witness in that case described the couple getting onto a double-masted ketch, but a boat matching that description was never found by police.
Scott Watson was convicted of the murders of Hope and Smart, although his boat did not meet the witness description.
The exercise to survey the Picton Harbour seabed was part of Exercise Southern Katipo, a joint operation involving more than 2000 naval, army and airforce personnel. Marlborough Deputy Harbourmaster captain Luke Grogan said finding wrecks in the Marlborough Sounds was reasonably common. The Marlborough Harbourmaster had retrieved between three and four sunken boats in the past two years.
Boats would be removed if they posed a risk to navigation, Grogan said.