7 aboard U.S. schooner missing in South Pacific
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — 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 on Thursday that they have grave concerns for the crew on the classic 85-year-old wooden vessel that vanished 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 vessel Nina is American David Dyche. They say there are two other American men and three American women aboard, ages 17 to 73. Also aboard is a British man who's 35.
Messages posted online by friends indicate the boat originally left from Panama City, Fla.
Meteorologist Bob McDavitt said he took a satellite phone call from the boat on June 3. A woman named Evi asked how to get away from the weather. He said to call back in 30 minutes after he had 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 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 did not hear back.