“The weather’s turned nasty. How do we get away from it?” These were the last words heard from the crew of the Nina, a 70’ American cruising boat underway from New Zealand to Australia. That was nearly a month ago on June 3. Today, July 1, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) continued their search, employing a P4 Orion to use visual and radar over an area north of Northland.
It was 73-year-old Evi Nemeth, a retired University of Colorado professor, who made the satellite phone call to meteorologist Bob McDavitt.
“She was quite controlled in her voice. It sounded like everything was under control,” McDavitt said.
He told the Nina crew to brace for a storm with strong winds and high seas.
The RCCNZ reported 80-kilometer-per-hour winds (50 miles per hour), gusting to 110 (68 miles per hour) and swells of up to 8 meters (26 feet) at the vessel’s last known position.
“They were concerned but they weren’t in trouble,” said McDavitt. “They were in control.”
The following day, McDavitt received a text: “ANY UPDATE FOR NINA?…EVI.” McDavitt responded but Nemeth never wrote back. Family and friends alerted authorities on June 14.
The Nina was in experienced hands. Her owner/captain, David Dyche III, age 58, was born in Plantation Key, Fla., and worked at Edison Chouest Offshore. He and his wife Rosemary, 60, and son David, 17, had weighed anchor on their circumnavigation in 2008. Ms. Nemeth, a skilled sailor as well, had long had a dream to sail around the world.
Also on board were three unidentified crewmembers: a 35-year-old British man and two other Americans, a woman, 18, and a man, 28.
The captain and his crew had planned to sail across the Tasman Sea in February, but engine failure put their plans on hold.
On February 8, Dyche III wrote on Facebook, “Our efforts have failed in making the crossing to Australia because of the loss of our main propulsion which provides us energy for all our systems on board. As this failure is costly, it is surrendering to the circumstances that are the most difficult. But surrender has a tactical advantage though, as it gives focus and provides more time for planning. We will be staying in New Zealand another couple of mouths as we endeavor to re power (sic) Nina with a new engine that will provide us with reliability, safety and make her better than ever before.”
They set sail with a new Cummins Diesel to power their trip.
The Nina is equipped with a Spot device that can be used to manually send tracking signals and an emergency beacon that has not been activated.
To date, the RCCNZ has coordinated five searches for the classic wooden boat and its crew based on different scenarios, covering more than 600,000 square nautical miles.