Retired University Of Colorado Professor Believed Among Missing On Schooner

By: AP
By: AP

A retired University of Colorado professor is among seven people reportedly lost at sea between New Zealand and Australia.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Evi Nemeth is a widely respected computer engineer.

Rescue crews searching for a classic American schooner carrying seven people believe the boat sank between New Zealand and Australia, although they haven't given up hope of finding survivors.

A New Zealand meteorologist took the last known calls from the seven people aboard an American schooner: "The weather's turned nasty, how do we get away from it?"

The phone calls and texts ended June 4. More than three weeks later, searchers said Thursday they have grave concerns for the crew on the classic 85-year-old wooden vessel that went missing while sailing from New Zealand to Australia. Attempts to contact the crew by radio and an aerial search this week have proved fruitless.

Kevin Banaghan, who is spearheading search efforts by Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre, said rescuers weren't worried at first because there had been no distress call from the boat and its emergency locator beacon had not been activated. He said rescuers on June 14 initiated a communications search, in which they tried contacting the boat over various radio frequencies as well as contacting other vessels in the area to see if they'd spotted the Nina.

This week, he said, rescuers escalated their efforts. An air force plane on Tuesday searched the area where the boat went missing. A second search by the plane on Wednesday went as far as the Australian coast but again turned up nothing. Banaghan said searchers are considering their next options.

The boat left the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand on May 29 bound for the port of Newcastle, near Sydney. The last communication was from 370 nautical miles west of New Zealand.

Banaghan said the crew hoped to arrive in Australia in mid-June but that, given the conditions, he considered a realistic arrival date to be about June 25. He said Dyche is a qualified captain and the crew has varying degrees of experience.

"We're very concerned for their safety and wellbeing," he said.

Authorities say the storm three weeks ago had winds gusting up to 110 kilometers (68 miles) per hour and waves of up to 8 meters (26 feet).

Banaghan said the Nina is a "lovely old craft" which won races when it was new and had been maintained in excellent condition. He added that it had a new engine installed in recent months which had apparently created some initial leaking problems.

He said there are several possible scenarios, including the boat losing communications, drifting off course, or the crew taking to lifeboats. He said there's also a possibility the boat suffered a catastrophic failure and sank before anybody had time to react.


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