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New Zealander and Norwegian missing in the Atlantic

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 21 Sep 2011
Bermuda to Ireland - the intended route of the Golden Eagle SW
Another yacht has gone missing, this time a Norwegian yacht in the Atlantic. A wide-spread search is underway, co-ordinated by the Irish Coast Guard off the south-west coast for a yacht with two crew on board, a New Zealander and a Norwegian. They are missing on a voyage from Bermuda to Crookhaven in the County of Cork in Ireland.

The 10m (33ft) sloop, Golden Eagle , crewed by a 69-year-old Norwegian and a 60-year-old New Zealander, left St George in Bermuda on August 21st. It was due in Crookhaven, west Cork, last Thursday.

The vessel is registered in Bergen, Norway. On Saturday the skipper’s family contacted the Norwegian coast guard when he failed to make contact with them as they had expected, given his estimated time of arrival in west Cork.

The Norwegian Coast Guard then contacted Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre which alerted the Irish Coast Guard and a major search operation was launched for the vessel at the weekend.

Bermuda chief maritime operations controller Denis Rowe said that the last contact that Bermuda had with the vessel was via VHF radio, which has a radius of 40-50 miles, as it left the British dependency. However, Mr Rowe said that Golden Eagle was equipped with a 406MHz EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon), which is activated as soon as it comes in contact with water and sends a signal via satellite to the nearest coast guard service.

'An EPIRB is a great piece of equipment to have on a boat and the fact that it has not been activated so far is a good sign,' Mr Rowe said, adding that yachts crossing the Atlantic were frequently delayed and end up diverting to alternative ports.

The Bermuda centre, the Irish Coast Guard, the UK Coast Guard and the Portuguese Coast Guard on the Azores are on the alert for the vessel with long-range information tracking being used to plot its possible route.

An added concern is that the sloop may have been caught in the tail end of Hurricane Katia in the first week of September before it was due to make a landfall in the Republic on or about September 11th.

Declan Geoghegan of the Irish Coast Guard confirmed that the Sikorski helicopters based at Shannon and Waterford carried out a sweep off the Cork coast, while the long-range fixed wing Air Corps Casa also joined in the search yesterday.

Four Naval Service ships on fisheries patrol and drug interdiction duties are also on the lookout for the yacht, while freighters and cruise liners crossing the Atlantic have also been alerted and are sending out radio messages for the vessel.

Mr Geoghegan said the Irish Coast Guard had also contacted air traffic control in Shannon requesting all airliners to keep an eye out for the vessel which would be visible to aircraft flying between Europe and the Americas.
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