Thursday, June 20, 2013

Forensic Search Lady Domina Pg 2

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Page 2 You are on it!
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Enter Tore Christiansen
The "probe" resulted in a response by Tore Christiansen, a port agent for yachts visiting Brazil.  Christiansen is a Norwegian fluent in English.  He quickly posted on the Cruiser's Forum, a popular yachting site for Caribbean sailors.  It was not long before Christiansen began to run into conflicting accounts of the planned schedule for Lady Domina, as well as her route.

Kati made various estimations as to route and to time

Apparently, Kati Lee made various estimations as to how long she thought the trip would take and what route was planned.  Abrahamson, Fritzner and Anders were told the route would be from St. Martin Direct to the Azores, a set of Islands off of the European coast of Portugal and considered part of Portugal.  The group was supposed to be in the Azores in 14 days.  Another youth was scheduled to meet the yacht in the Azores.  From there, Kati said the yacht would head for Norway which would take another 15 days.

On her facebook page, she said,

"Final few days in the Caribbean. Making the most of it before a 3 week bumpy journey across the Atlantic."

On the day departure, March 31st, 2013, Kati wrote in her facebook page,  

 "Hopefully be in the AZORES in 3 weeks".

Yet, Kati Lee told a friend in England the trip could take up to two months.

Not even the route the Lady Domina took is clear to people investigating the yacht's strange disappearance.  In a conversation with her old employer, Keith Chipping, Kati mentioned going to Puerto Rico first before sailing for the Azores.  However, Hele, the wife of  Brian Ftiznersgate, said she was positive no trip to Puerto Rico was in the plans.

Chipping said he pressed Kati about why they were heading for Puerto Rico, a course of North by Northeast, when they wanted to go the Azores, a course that would take them Northwest.  Chipping said Kati did not respond to his question, but continued talking excitedly about the prospects of visiting Norway.

Actual route appears first

After research, the Lady Domina appears to have gone to Puerto Rico.  It is unclear whether the yacht actually stopped there.  However, it appears the Lady Domina had  TWO conversations with the Coastguard near San Juan Puerto Rico.  The first conversation was on April 5th, when the Lady Domina called the Coast Guard to tell them they were "checking out" of the island.   This conversation has been verified by Tore Christiansen.

Anders Mosteid

U.S. Law requires reporting in

Under the law, when a yacht sails into U.S. territory, the captain of the vessel must report to the authorities in person.  Puerto Rico, as a U.S. territory, is considered part of the United States.  

Lady Domina

Sailing Savoir Faire checked to see if the yacht Lady Domina, had checked into Puerto Rico.  The person who answered the telephone for the Coast Guard informed us no yacht by the name of Lady Domina had checked into Puerto Rico.  Yet Christiansen confirmed the yacht reporting out of Puerto Rico.  How could a yacht check out of Puerto Rico if it never checked in?  More confusion.

The second conversation with the Coast Guard was over-heard by the crew on a yacht called Blue Pelican.  The phrase "overheard" may be a term of art.  While roughly 35 miles Southeast of Puerto Rico, the Blue Pelican overheard one half of the conversation someone on board a yacht called Lady Domina was having with the Coast Guard.

It is not unusual to hear half conversations in the yachting world.  VHF radio communications are line of sight communications.  You can hear one half of the conversation when the second party is out of radio contact with you.  In order for the crew of the Lady Domina to hear the Coast Guard they would have needed to be within about 5 miles of Puerto Rico.  That presumes the crew aboard Lady Domina were using a hand-held VHF radio yacht owner Slettvold purchased the day before the Lady Domina sailed.

Search and Rescue for the Grain de Soleil Also Includes the Lady Domina, Ann Quemarie, spokesperson for the Grain de Soleil crew.

Emergency at sea

On April 24th, an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was set off about 500 miles South of the Azores.  Although an alert for the Lady Domina had been registered by Helle Kaspersen, the beacon belonged to another yacht.  It was set off in heavy weather and registered to the French yacht Grain de Soleil.  The beacon continued for three days and then fell silent.

A satellite service was enlisted to view the approximate wreck area where the fragmented remains of a sailboat hull was viewed on Satellite.  The hull appeared to match the color and rough shape of the Grain de Soleil.  Yet, relatives say they do not think the wreckage is that of the Grain de Soleil.

In fact, no part of the Lady Domina was turqouise, whereas portions of the wreckage were clearly turquoise.  However, by chance, the original route that most of the crew expected the Lady Domina to take should have placed the Lady Domina within a few miles of the Grain de Soleil when the Grain de Soliel triggered her EPIRB.

Grain de Soleil At Haul

Bouey found near wreckage.  Note, the moss hanging on the bouey, which would not have been in the water long enough for either for the Grain de Soleil or the Lady Domina.

Lady Domina

An official search

Search teams were sent out looking for the Grain de Soleil.  They were also instructed to keep a sharp watch for the Lady Domina.  Included in the search were two flights by a Falcon 50 jet, a P-3 Orion and a C-295 in search of the Grain de Soleil and watching for the Lady Domina.

C-295 Airbus Military Patrol Craft (Airbus)

Several ships were sent out and some large pleasure craft joined the search, as well.  Some passenger ships agreed to divert their route and participate in the search. 

One of the private yachts which joined the search

Nothing was found of the sailors from the Grain de Soleil.  Nor was anything seen from the  Lady Domina.  Yet, while the satellite picked up the shattered hull which was a similar color as the Grain de Soleil, nothing was seen of the Lady Domina or the Grain de Soleil.  

P-3 Orion

Visit in Azores

Meanwhile, the crew member who was to join the Lady Domina, Mads Poulson, says he was never going to sail with the yacht.  He says he flew to the Azores to wish his friends good will.  When they didn't show up, he turned around and went home.  But he was going to do that whether they showed up or not, he says.  Poulson also said the yacht had a radio and was in good condition.  

While the Lady Domina was said to be weak on rescue devices, there were some high-tech devices aboard Lady Domina, including a radar head which can be seen on the mast.  An EPIRB is not a large device.  In fact, many sailors carry personal emergency devices that can alert over-flying aircraft.  No emergency devices were triggered for the Lady Domina.  However, usually, along with radar, most captains install chart plotters, G.P.S.'s and other navigation equipment. 

Also, when Captain Slettvold purchased his portable VHF a day before departure, it did not mean there was no VHF on the yacht.  Often, a hard-wired radio has a hard wired microphone which can be impossible to reach while in the cockpit.  With skilled installation, a hard-wired VHF will have slightly longer range than a handheld unit.

Lady Domina, Left, Coral IV Right

Forensic Search Page 3

and parting thoughts


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