After several days of intense searching, the 21m American schooner Nina, with seven crew on board, is presumed to have sunk, according to Australian and New Zealand rescuers. The fact that satellite phones were not used and the EPIRB was not set off points to the fact that the historic schooner sank so suddenly in some catastrophic event that none of the crew had time to activate the EPIRB or phone.
The crew was mostly American, aged from 17 to 73, with one British man known to be on board. The search has not been abandoned, as it is still possible that survivors are on board the life raft or made land.
Some of those on board have been named: Captain David Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; and their son David, 17 (pictured above) as well as their friend Evi Nemeth, 73, another crew member aged 28, a woman of 18, and British crew member Matthew Wootton, aged 35.
The Dyche family were said to be experienced sailors who had been sailing around the world for several years.
The 85-year-old schooner Nina had left Opua on New Zealand's North Island on 29 May with a 'realistic' estimated time of arrival into Newcastle Australia on or about 25th June.
The last known communications with the crew were on 3 and 4 June - when conditions were very rough, said Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), with winds of around 40knots gusting to 55knots and swells of up to 8m
Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand's (RCCNZ) Chris Henshaw said they had been looking at drift modelling and running a number of different scenarios to work out where the boat and crew might be.
Ms Nemeth called and texted New Zealand meteorologist Bob McDavitt to seek advice on how to cope with the conditions, and was advised to ride it out.
After family and friends failed to hear from the crew, rescuers were alerted on 14 June. They began trying to make contact with the vessel, but were said not to be unduly alarmed as it was equipped with an emergency locator beacon which had not been activated, as well as a satellite phone and spot beacon.
But on 28 June aerial searches began, and two extensive sea-based searches as well as two shoreline searches have yielded no sign of the vessel or crew, said RCCNZ.
Nina is a staysail schooner designed in 1928 by Starling Burgess. Her original owner was Paul Hammond
She was built by Ruben Bigelow In 1928 On Monument Beach, Cape Cod, Mass. USA
Length Overall 70ft. Length at Waterline50ft. Beam14ft. Mainmast 85ft.
Niña first became famous in the 1928 race from New York to Santander, Spain, for which she was expressly built. She won the 3900 mile race in 24 days and was greeted by King Alfonso from his launch. As he came along side Niña, He waved his cap and shouted 'Well sailed, Niña, I congratulate you! I am the King of Spain.'
Niña then went to England for the 600 mile Fastnet Race which takes place through the stormy waters of the English Channel and the Irish Sea. She became the first American yacht to win that race. Her overall time was 4 days, 12 hours, 48 minutes, 13 seconds. Niña had one more major win, the 1929 race from London to Gibson Island Chesapeake Bay. She was temporarily retired as owner, Paul Hammond, became involved in the 1930 Americas Cup race.
In 1934, New York banker, DeCoursey Fales bought Niña, and each year of his life he became more and more devoted to her. He would talk for hours about the 'old girl'. The rest of Niña's career was probably fore-ordained as she won the New York Yacht Club Astor Cup in 1939 and 1940. Just before WWII, she won for the first time an event that was to become her specialty, the 233 mile Stanford-Vineyard Race on Long Island Sound. Afterward, she was laid up for the duration of the war. Niña was not allowed to rot, however, and she came out after the war in better shape than ever for a three year stint as flag ship for the New York Yacht Club.
Mr. Fales became the NYYC commodore in 1949, and Niña earned her honors by taking first place in ¾ of the yacht club's squadron races as well as winning the Cygnet Cup in 1949. She made such a habit of winning races that Commodore Fales put the trophies back in competition. It became almost a stock joke that Niña would proceed to win back her own trophies!
In 1962 to thunderous cheers, Niña, became the oldest yacht at 34 years to win the Newport to Bermuda Race, under 72 year old Commodore Fales. In 1966, then 78 year old Commodore Fales passed away while his crew was attempting to repeat the Bermuda win. Niña had five owners after Fales, one being Kings Point Academy.
Niña is presently a private vessel owned since 1988 by Captain David A. Dyche, III. Under his ownership she has won the New York Mayors Cup in1989 and the Schooner class at Antigua in 1994. Captain Dyche has expanded Niña's horizons by cruising her to the Mediterranean Sea as far as Istanbul, Turkey and the Black Sea. And as far south as Granada in the Caribbean Sea. Niña new deck was completed in 1997, a three year labor of love by Capt. Dyche.
September 1,2008 Capt. Dyche, wife Rosemary, son David set off on their dream to circumnavigate.