There has been a lot of hype about a mast caught in a fishing rig in the Timor Sea being from the missing schooner, Nina that disappeared on the Eastern coast of Australia in the Tasman Sea. Part of that hype is a well written story from the Herald Sun News, Northern Territories, a publication with a sterling reputation, which does nothing more than sensationalize the remotest of possibilities the sunken yacht found in the Timor Sea is the Nina. If the author had been doing her homework, she would have printed a more accurate headline, "Timor Sea Find Not Likely Nina".
"Not really, we are just trying to sell papers"
Sensationalist stories have hurt the Nina search before. One of the most famous stories suggested the Nina was in horrible condition. The authority upon whom the writer relied had never been aboard the Nina. In fact, the authority for the story is not a shipwright, hence not in a position to make official statements about what condition the Nina is in. Few people know, a survey was completed in 2012 in which the Nina was found to be "a sound yacht". That story has never been made public.
The story in the Herald Sun, Northern Territories, also speaks about how massive the search for the Nina was. If you repeat something enough times people begin to believe it. While the search for the Nina was large, the families say there were massive errors in the search, another fact not well reported. There is a significant likelihood the search missed the Nina and her crew because of those errors.
The families ask all people to keep a sharp eye out for a boat lying low in the water, as well as wrecks on remote islands and reefs, debris and flotsam. At one time that request was for boats in the Northern Tasman Sea. Considering the currents and passage of time, the Nina could be about anywhere.
Authorities have been closed mouthed about the details of the mast found in the Timor Sea. The information I have I am not at liberty to disclose at this time. Suffice it to say, the mast found was very distinct and does not sound like it came from the missing schooner, the Nina, according to sources. Is it possible the Nina crew found a floating wreck and salvaged a mast? Sure, but not very likely.
We encourage the Herald Sun News, Northern Territories, and all publications to focus on things that have the potential to help the missing crew and their families. The families have their hands full doing what authorities from many countries should have done. Putting out sensationalist fires makes their efforts more difficult. The truth may be just as sensational, but it is going to take someone with a lot of moxy to bring it forth.
Anything, of course, is possible. Until divers can check the ocean floor to verify there is, in fact, a boat, and the mast was not simply blown overboard and snagged on the bottom, no one can say for sure what authorities will find. However, speculation the found mast is the Nina is likely sensationalist journalism to sell papers and does an unjust service to the Nina sailors and their families.