Wooden-boat crew missing in South Pacific

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Authorities fear for the safety of the seven-member crew of a classic 85-year-old wooden boat that disappeared earlier this month while sailing from New Zealand to Australia.

Attempts to contact the crew by radio and via aerial searches have been unsuccessful, Fox News reported today.

Calls and texts from the American schooner Nina ended June 4 when a New Zealand meteorologist took the last known calls from a woman named Evi who asked how to get away from the “nasty” weather. Meteorologist Bob McDavitt said he told her to call back in 30 minutes after he’d studied a forecast. She did.

“She was quite controlled in her voice, it sounded like everything was under control,” McDavitt said, adding that the call itself indicated she was concerned about the conditions.

McDavitt said he spoke only briefly to Evi, advising her on June 3 to head south and to brace for a storm with strong winds and high seas. The next day he got a text, the last known communication from the boat: “ANY UPDATE 4 NINA? … EVI”

McDavitt said he advised the crew to stay put and ride out the storm another day. He continued sending messages the next few days, but didn’t hear back. Friends of the crew got in touch with McDavitt soon after that, and then alerted authorities on June 14.

Authorities said the skipper of the 70-foot vessel is American David Dyche. Two other American men and three American women are also aboard, along with a 35-year-old British man. Messages posted online by friends indicate the boat originally left from Panama City, Fla.

The vessel is equipped with a satellite phone, a spot beacon that allows regular tracking signals to be sent manually and an emergency beacon that has not yet been activated, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Click here for the full report.

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