‘Die in the ocean and they will never find your body’

Matt on the beach in New Zealand
Matt on the beach in New Zealand
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He expressed his greatest fears in an online blog before setting off on the dangerous voyage across unpredictable seas.

Environmentalist Matt Wootton, who had lived in Lancaster for 10 years, is now missing at sea and feared dead after setting sail from New Zealand to Australia on May 29.

He was on board a 70ft wooden schooner on the final leg of a three year round the world trip, when the boat, called the Nina, hit stormy weather.

The seven strong crew set off from New Zealand’s North Island and last communicated with authorities on June 3 and 4, when sailing conditions became very rough. Recent aerial and sea based searches have failed to locate the boat or any survivors.

Authorities have now said it’s likely the boat sank quickly in the storm, but it was still possible that survivors could be on board a lifeboat, or had made land.

As he crossed the Pacific on a freighter ship last July, Matt, 35, who lived in Ashfield Avenue, wrote in his online blog that his worst nightmare was being overwhelmed by a tsunami.

He added: “...But I can’t help thinking I’m also just simply scared of death by drowning.”

The wooden schooner had faced 50mph winds and swells of up to 8m high, said Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand.

He last posted on Twitter on May 12 stating: “This is going to be awesome”.