The families of the crew of the schooner Nina, missing since June in the Tasman Sea, are not giving up. A private search team have now identified satellite images of a vessel or object resembling the missing yacht Nina.
Satellite images captured on September 15 around 184 nautical miles west of Norfolk Island and examined by the private search team appear to show a drifting boat.
Family members say the boat is roughly the same size and shape as the Nina, but Ralph Baird of EquuSearch says it would take help from the American or New Zealand governments to get answers.
'We're handicapped in that we're not able to get these images fast enough,' he says. 'The government is not handicapped.'
The families of the seven crew members say they are not giving up hope that their loved ones are still alive and are calling on authorities to resume a search. But officials say they would need better-quality images before doing so.
Nina in happier days - .. .
The Nina, carrying six Americans and a British man, set sail from the Bay of Islands in late May and was last heard from early in June. No wreckage or any sign of the boat has been seen since
Official searches for the yacht have stopped, but the families have enlisted the help of a US-based search and rescue organisation.
Robin Wright, mother of 19-year-old crew member Danielle Wright, said the new images were exciting.
'We have never lost hope that the crew of Nina is alive and well and that they will be rescued, but seeing that boat image is very exciting.
Ian Wootton said he and wife Sue were filled with mixed emotions after the discovery of what could be the boat their 35-year-old son Matthew was on.
A MetService spokesman said it would take time to trace the weather patterns since mid-September in that area to try to determine where the boat could have drifted to.
The families have been in contact with several groups and authorities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand but no one has been willing to send out yet another official search and they were relying on funds raised privately to send out search planes.
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre of New Zealand confirmed it had received the images from top private search and rescue organisation Texas EquuSearch and had examined the images.
Maritime NZ's general manager for safety and responses services, Nigel Clifford, said a better-quality image was needed for an official search to go ahead.
'RCCNZ undertook a close examination of the images, but does not believe they are sufficiently compelling to justify resumption of the official search,' he said.
Other more technical information - including satellite type, the satellite's height above the Earth and better resolution of images - was also required.
....... Cherished memories:
Nina had a long and proud life, and has left many people with cherished memories.
According to one time crew member Bob Zimels, she was designed by Starling Bargess around 1928, and won her 1st race, the Miami to Bermuda race, shortly after her launching, against boats much larger than her.
'I sailed on the Nina, after my friend, Dr. Gil Safer, and another guy purchased it from the Maritime Academy in New York.
'It was pretty much a hulk, and they spent about a year repairing and refurbishing it. That was around 1975.
'We’d sail out into Long Island Sound, and though the boat was almost 50 years old, she was still a fine sailor.
'The last I heard of it, she had been purchased by a group that was using it as a sailing camp.'