Monday, July 8, 2013

Nina, Nemeth The Story Page 2


Little did McDavitt know, the final message he received from Professor Nemeth was not the final message sent.  A message retrieved later revealed the Nina in heavy seas and facing an uphill climb.


Father and Son

McDavitt attempted multiple text messages advising the yacht of the storm which the crew of the Nina had sailed into.

Rescue authorities began their investigation on June 14th, after worried family members contacted authorities.  The Rescue Coordination Center, New Zealand (RCCNZ) went into action under international protocol which requires the rescue center with jurisdiction over the yacht's port of departure to take command.  It is unknown why McDavitt did not signal the family about a potential problem earlier.  Bob McDavitt indicated he exchanged several text messages with Evi Nemeth but she quit responding.


From Wooden Boat

      The RCCNZ launched the largest search effort in the history of the center.  They started with a radar search and followed the search with air and sea reconnaissance.  The Center indicated the conditions the Nina was facing were heavy seas with 50 mile per hour sustained winds gusting to 68 miles per hour.  The seas were running at 26 feet, meaning the Nina was facing waves over a third as tall as her 68 foot forward mast.

Dyche and Dyche On Deck

After searching nearly 750,000 miles of ocean, the RCCNZ concluded the Nina had likely sunk as a result of a catastrophic incident.  Such incidents can take a variety of forms including capsizing or the breach of the hull.  

Whatever the supposed catastrophic incident was, the RCCNZ concluded the yacht had not set off it's Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).  The crew had not communicated to the rescue center using their satellite telephone.  The SPOT tracking device had ceased giving locations.  Instructions of ships in the area to broadcast on VHF radio channels had yielded no responses.

Then came the results of requests to satellite cell phone provider, Iridium, after being cleared to provide confidential information by the U.S. State Department.  There had been a final text message.  It read:


The message had been sent on June 4th, likely to weather forecaster McDavitt, but he says he never got it.  It would have been helpful to the rescue center and to the family if the telephone company Iridium had come forward sooner, based upon the emergency presented.  

As it was, the family was required by the cell carrier to go through an extensive process which included approval of the U.S. State Department in order to reveal the messages normally considered private.  A month late meant information a month old.

Nina At Haul Out


     While RCCNZ contemplated it's next action, Thursday July 4th, 2013, they cancelled the daily search flight for the following day.  Likely, they had already decided to suspend the search pending receipt of new information.  While the information in the final text message indicated the Nina survived the storm which hit the Tasman Sea on June 3rd, the message also indicated a phone call would be made within the next 6 hours. 

 No phone call was ever made.  The lack of the promised follow-up phone call further strengthened belief by the RCCNZ about the futility of continuing the search.  More, several storms had swept the treacherous section of the ocean since then.

SV Nina

At least, the text message was indicative of the conditions the Nina was facing.  Running under bare poles means the boat is being pushed by wave, wind and current without use of her sails.  In heavy weather, a yacht can keep up a fast pace under pressure from mother nature alone.

The families have been encouraged to not lose hope. Even if the Nina sank, her crew may well have survived.  Although the search effort included watching for a life raft, large wave action can obscure objects like rafts.  The Nina carried an 8 man life raft.  

     On July 6th at 11:00 a.m., the official search was suspended.

Continued on page 3

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