Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

New privately-funded search for Nina takes off

The classic American schooner Nina.
The classic American schooner Nina.

The first day of a new privately-funded search for the missing yacht Nina has failed to find anything.

The seven-member crew was last heard from in rough Tasman Sea conditions on June 4, and family and friends have remained hopeful for the survival of their loved ones, and have raised funds to keep private search efforts alive.

Today - more than five months since the historic 85-year-old yacht left Opua in the Bay of Islands bound for Newcastle, Australia - two pilots, along with the parents of missing crew member, Danielle Wright, 18, undertook an aerial search of an area west of Norfolk Island.

According to the Facebook page `Holding Hope for the Nina', which has been set up to co-ordinate the search efforts and raise funds for the search plane, Ms Wright's parents Robin and Ricky arrived in Norfolk Island last night for the search.

The couple spent the first day of the search as ``spotters'' trying to locate the boat from a satellite image taken in September which showed a ghostly picture of the vessel.

Mrs Wright wrote on the Facebook page: ``Our search pilots, George and David, are really great guys and they're keeping us sharp. The weather is perfect. In fact, the seas are so calm, at times there aren't even any white caps. We could see so far out that we were able to cover twice as much ground as originally planned. We're praying for more of the same tomorrow. Unfortunately we didn't spot Nina, but hopefully tomorrow will be the day we're all waiting for.''

Each day of searching costs about US$20,000 (NZ$25,600). Those supporting the newest private search believe they have enough funds to search for a few days.

Professional captain David Dyche III, 58, and his wife, Rosemary, 60 own the Nina. They were with their son David Dyche Jnr, 17, and fellow Americans Evi Nemeth, 73, Kyle Jackson, 27, as well as Ms Wright when the boat disappeared. Also on board was Briton Matthew Wootton, 35.

While Mr and Mrs Wright assist with the aerial search, the Wootton family are continuing to analyse satellite images and calculate drift patterns.

Friends and family of the Nina are using the Facebook page to keep in touch and post photos of the latest search.

- APNZ

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