Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand searched the largest area it has ever covered but had found no trace of the wooden schooner Niña when the mission was called off.
The search was suspended July 6 after 12 days and 737,000 square nautical miles covered — an area about eight times the size of New Zealand.
John Seward, operations manager for the rescue center, said the search effort had comprehensively covered all areas where the yacht reasonably could have been expected to be found.
“The search has been extremely thorough, and we are confident that had the yacht or life raft been within those search areas, we would have found them,” Seward said in a statement.
Just three days before the search was suspended, the rescue center obtained a text message that crewmember Danielle Wright sent. It was transmitted June 4, using the boat's satellite phone, but the Iridium system did not deliver it, according to Maritime New Zealand.
The message read: "THANKS STORM SAILS SHREDDED LAST NIGHT, NOW BARE POLES. GOING 4KT 310DEG WILL UPDATE COURSE INFO @ 6PM."
The disappearance of the classic 70-foot schooner with seven people on board, including an American family of three, made headlines around the world and gripped the cruising community.
The seven are identified as a Florida family — David A. Dyche, 58, an experienced skipper; his wife, Rosemary, 60; and their son, David, 17 — Americans Evi Nemreth, 73, Danielle Wright, 18, and Kyle Jackson, 27; and a 35-year-old Briton, Matthew Wootton.
Built in 1928, Niña left Opua, in New Zealand's North Island, on May 29 to cross the Tasman Sea to Australia. The last communication with the yacht was June 4, when she was about 370 nautical miles west-northwest of North Island’s Cape Reinga. Conditions were winds of 50 mph, gusting to 68 mph, and seas of 26 feet, according to Maritime New Zealand.
Niña was equipped with a satellite phone, a Spot personal satellite tracking device and an EPIRB, which did not activate.
Writing on the website sailblogs.com in 2010, Rosemary Dyche described the Starling Burgess-designed staysail schooner as built for ocean racing. Her husband bought the yacht in 1988 and his restoration of her was a “labor of love.”
She wrote that she, her husband and their son David set off on their “dream” voyage around the world “to meet people, learn about their culture and see the beauty of the world.”
Dyche concludes her blog entry with a quote: “Don’t take time out of your life to sail but put time in your life and Do It.”