THE CO-OWNER of an Australian fishing vessel that stumbled across the mast and sail of an unidentified yacht in the Timor Sea near Darwin claims the wreckage could be part of missing vessel Nina.
There has been no sighting of American schooner Nina after it vanished from the Tasman Sea with seven passengers on board in June last year.
Despite several extensive searches covering more than 615,000 square nautical miles, no trace of the yacht, which was en route to New South Wales from New Zealand, has been found.
An Australia Bay Seafoods ship snagged a boat’s mast and sail in its nets about 170km off Darwin last week.
Australia Bay Seafoods’ co-owner, Bill Passey, said that it had taken his crew about six hours to unhook the net from the wreckage.
“Eventually when they did get off something gave way,” he said. “And among all the tangled mess was a sail and a mast off a yacht.
He said there were concerns bodies may lie beneath the sea with the remainder of the yacht.
Police are unable to dive to investigate further.
This is because the yacht is believed to be located too deep under the ocean.
A mollusc expert told police that the vessel had probably been in the water for eight to 10 months.
Mr Passey told the NT News it was “important to remind these authorities that a yacht called Nina, with seven persons on board, missing since June 2013 has not been found”.
“They searched New Zealand and Sydney (waters) for the vessel but they didn’t search the northern waters,” Mr Passey said.
Mr Passey said the “stainless steel rings on the mast were made in Auckland and the sail had a tag on it saying it was made in Sydney”.
The NT News was yesterday unable to establish if the parts matched those from the Nina.
NT Water Police sergeant John Pini said authorities had not yet determined where the wreckage was from or who had been on board.
He said he was not sure if Nina was one of the missing vessels being considered by authorities as a potential match for the wreckage.
“At the moment we’re trying to trace (the identity of the vessel) down through places like yacht clubs,” Mr Pini said.
“We’ve been talking to the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra and made inquiries with Indonesian authorities about potential vessels that haven’t turned up.
“We’ve identified a number of yachts abandoned at sea but none appear to match the description we have.
“What is extremely rare about this yacht is a coloured mast. It’s usually straight aluminium and is very unusual to have a coloured mast.”
Mr Pini said that he would not reveal the exact colour of the mast for fear of attracting false statements.
The mast on the Nina was gold-coloured aluminum.
source: Herald Sun News