Another old wooden sailing vessel missing in foul weather

I hope this vessel or at least the crew turn up

[B]7 aboard US schooner missing in South Pacific[/B]
Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand meteorologist took the last known calls from the seven people aboard an American schooner, “The weather’s turned nasty, how do we get away from it?”

The phone calls and texts ended June 4. More than three weeks later, searchers said Thursday they have grave concerns for the crew on the classic 85-year-old wooden vessel that went missing while sailing from New Zealand to Australia. Attempts to contact the crew by radio and an aerial search this week have proved fruitless.

Authorities say the skipper of the 70-foot (21-meter) vessel Nina is American David Dyche. They say there are two other American men and three American women aboard, aged between 17 and 73. Also aboard is a British man, aged 35.

Messages posted online by friends indicate the boat originally left from Panama City, Florida.

Meteorologist Bob McDavitt said he took a satellite phone call from the boat June 3. A woman named Evi asked how to get away from the weather. He said to call back in 30 minutes after he’d studied a forecast. She did.

“She was quite controlled in her voice, it sounded like everything was under control,” McDavitt said, adding that the call itself indicated she was concerned about the conditions.

McDavitt said he spoke only briefly to Evi, advising her to head south and to brace for a storm with strong winds and high seas. The next day he got a text, the last known communication from the boat: “ANY UPDATE 4 NINA? … EVI”

McDavitt said he advised the crew to stay put and ride out the storm another day. He continued sending messages the next few days but didn’t hear back. Friends of the crew got in touch with McDavitt soon after that, and then alerted authorities June 14.

Kevin Banaghan, who is spearheading search efforts by Maritime New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre, said rescuers weren’t worried at first because there had been no distress call from the boat and its emergency locator beacon had not been activated. He said rescuers on June 14 initiated a communications search, in which they tried contacting the boat over various radio frequencies as well as contacting other vessels in the area to see if they’d spotted the Nina.

This week, he said, rescuers escalated their efforts. An Air Force plane on Tuesday searched the area where the boat went missing. A second search by the plane on Wednesday went as far as the Australian coast but again turned up nothing. Banaghan said searchers are considering their next options.

The boat left the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand on May 29 bound for the port of Newcastle, near Sydney. The last communication was from 370 nautical miles west of New Zealand.

Banaghan said the crew hoped to arrive in Australia mid-June but that, given the conditions, he considered a realistic arrival date to be about June 25. He said Dyche is a qualified captain and the crew has varying degrees of experience.

“We’re very concerned for their safety and wellbeing,” he said.

Authorities say the storm three weeks ago saw winds gusting up to 110 kilometers (68 miles) per hour and waves of up to 8 meters (26 feet).

Banaghan said the Nina is a “lovely old craft” which won races when it was new and had been maintained in excellent condition. He added that it had a new engine installed in recent months which had apparently created some initial leaking problems.

He said there are several possible scenarios, including the boat losing communications, drifting off course, or the crew taking to lifeboats. He said there’s also a possibility the boat suffered a catastrophic failure and sank before anybody had time to react.

Very old wooden vessels have no business being out at sea like that in winter weather

Still no sign of the vessel or survivors…did they not have an EPIRB?

[B]Missing American schooner ‘probably had a catastrophic event’; 7 remain missing[/B]

By Henry Austin and Miriam Firestone

The “biggest ever” search of the seas surrounding New Zealand turned up no sign of an American schooner that has been missing for more than three weeks, officials said Friday.

Search and Rescue officer Neville Blakemore said the 70-foot vessel “probably had a catastrophic event” while traveling from New Zealand to Newcastle, Australia.

“The areas that have been searched have been absolutely massive and the area searched is the biggest area the Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand has ever undertaken,” Blakemore said. “The comprehensive search by the Orion [aircraft] the last couple of days has indicated that if the yacht was still afloat they would have seen it in the search area. So we are assuming that it’s not in the search area and thus probably had a catastrophic event.”

David Dyche, skipper of the 70-foot vessel Nina.

Blakemore added that he was refusing to give up hope of finding survivors but said the search was now focusing on debris from wreckage.

The New Zealand Herald identified four of the people on the vessel as David Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; their son David, 17; and Evi Nemreth, 73, of Boulder, Colo., a maritime technology expert and retired University of Colorado professor. A 35-year-old British man, a 28-year-old American man and an 18-year-old American woman were also on board.

A storm was reported near the vessel’s last known location on June 4, the day the Nina vanished. It featured winds gusting up to 70 mph and 26-foot waves.

New Zealand-based meteorologist Bob McDavitt told the Associated Press that one of the crew was concerned about the conditions when she called on a satellite phone on June 4.

“The weather’s turned nasty, how do we get away from it,” McDavitt quoted Nemreth as asking him.

He added: “She was quite controlled in her voice, it sounded like everything was under control.”

Friends in Panama City, Fla., where the Nina often moored, told NBC station WJHG that David Dyche was an “accomplished captain” and said they were refusing to give up hope.

"You always worry anytime you’ve got a vessel in a bad weather situation,”Massalina Bayou marina director Bill Lloyd told WJHG on Thursday. “But you don’t handle a boat the size of Nina unless you’re an accomplished captain.”

Blakemore, the rescue official, refused to rule out the possibility of survivors. However, he said that the “logical conclusion” is that the boat sank rapidly, preventing the seven strong crew from sending out an SOS.

Unlike many locator beacons, he said that the one aboard Nina was not activated by water pressure and wouldn’t start automatically if the boat sank. However, he maintained that it would be unlikely that a craft the size of the Nina would sink.

“If the vessel got knocked over by a rogue wave it would have happened very, very quickly and they may not have had time to, to launch any life-saving equipment,” Blakemore added.

On her Facebook page, Rosemary Dyche said her family had planned a world tour.

“I am now on an adventure of a lifetime going around the world with my Wonderful husband who is my best friend and our youngest son," she wrote . "But I do Miss my 2 older sons Justin and Kevin and my grand kids Katelynn and Sean my mom. And all my friends. But we have to do it now while we can.”

Now that the government has reopened, agencies with access to advanced satellite imagery have released what they believe could be recent satellite images of the “Nina” adrift in the Tasman Sea. As this information is only a couple days old now there is no word yet on whether or not this new information has produced any results but the families involved are still holding out hope and frankly, so am I.

God help them all.

The search for the Nina continues. Images have been taken of the Tasman Sea by Digital Globe. You can view those images on the crowd sourcing web site called Tomnod. We invite you to see if you can find the Nina!

You can view the images here:


Tim Paynter
Media Lead