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Second day of shoreline searching for missing schooner yields no clues

by Sarah Brazil, Maritime NZ and Rosemary Dyche on 29 Jun 2013
The schooner Nina . ..

An extended shoreline search for the crew of the historic American 21m (70ft) schooner Nina missing en route from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Newcastle, Australia, has been undertaken for a second day today (29 June) without success.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) today tasked a helicopter to perform a coastal search from Port Waikato to New Plymouth. The Tauranga-based Phillips Search and Rescue helicopter departed at around 11.30am and was on scene at around 11.45am. 'The helicopter crew searched the area for two hours, without success,' said RCCNZ Mission Controller Neville Blakemore.

Today’s search followed an extensive aerial shoreline search undertaken along the northern west coast of New Zealand, an area determined by RCCNZ based on drift modelling from the last known position of the yacht on 4 June.

RCCNZ is liaising with Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia), and will continue to review search options. RCC Australia is assisting RCCNZ with broadcasts on coastal radio. New Zealand Maritime Radio is continuing to conduct broadcasts in New Zealand’s search and rescue region. Mr Blakemore said a debrief would be held overnight, before a decision on the next stage of the search operation.

Yesterday, an extensive aerial shoreline search was undertaken along the northern west coast of New Zealand, an area determined by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) based on drift modelling from the last known position of the yacht on 4 June.

'We tasked a twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft to search the shoreline and coast starting at Tauroa Point, along Ninety Mile Beach, north of Northland, and out to and around Three Kings Islands, but unfortunately there was no sign of the vessel or crew,' said Mr Blakemore.

The Hamilton-based Phillips Search and Rescue Trust fixed-wing Piper Chieftain aeroplane with the pilot and three observers on board left Hamilton at around 10.00am and arrived at Tauroa Point at around 10.45am, and searched throughout the day until 5pm.



Background
There are seven people on board the schooner Nina, six Americans (three men aged 17, 28 and 58, and three women aged 18, 60 and 73) and a British man aged 35.

To date, the RCCNZ has coordinated two extensive sea-based searches based on different scenarios, covering a combined area of 500,000 square nautical miles using an RNZAF P3 Orion. Two shoreline searches have also been conducted (on 28 and 29 June) but no sign has been found of the vessel or its crew.

The schooner Nina, built in 1928, left Opua on 29 May and has not been heard from since 4 June, when the vessel was about 370 nautical miles west-north-west of Cape Reinga.

The vessel is equipped with satellite phone, a spot device which allows regular tracking signals to be sent manually, and an emergency beacon. The emergency beacon has not been activated.

After concerns were raised by family and friends, the RCCNZ instigated a communications search on 14 June, using a range of communications methods to broadcast alerts to the vessel and others in the area.



Nina History by Rosemary Dyche

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.

Length On Deck 59ft. Displacement 44 tons Draft 9ft.7in. Foremast 65ft.

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.








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