Last updated 19:26 04/07/2013
The search for a missing yacht and its crew of seven may be helped after a previously undelivered text message was recovered.
The vintage schooner set off from Northland for Australia at the end of May and family of crew members began to worry the vessel had got into trouble midway through last month.
Aboard the Nina, built in 1928, was David Dyche III, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; and their son David Dyche IV, 17; their friend Evi Nemeth, 73; Kyle Jackson, 27; Wright, 18, and Briton Matthew Wootton, 35.
After weather modelling and research, a search and rescue operation was launched on June 25 and has already covered a huge area of the Tasman Sea.
The operation may be given a helping hand after a text message finally made its way to its recipient.
On July 3 the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand received information from the United States that an undelivered message had been recovered.
Though it suggested the boat had been ravaged by storms on the Tasman Sea, Maritime New Zealand's Nigel Clifford said it helped plan the search area.
The text said: "THANKS STORM SAILS SHREDDED LAST NIGHT, NOW BARE POLES. GOINING 4KT 310DEG WILL UPDATE COURSE INFO @ 6PM".
"The text message gives a clearer indication of the condition of the vessel on 4 June, and the weather that was being experienced at the time," Clifford said.
"There have been no further transmissions or messages from the Nina since the undelivered text message on 4 June. There were also no distress messages from either of the two distress alerting devices on board."
Clifford said the position information, coupled with the information in the text message, was then factored into search area calculations, along with other available information.
A radar search of more than 97,000 square nautical miles was completed without any sighting of the vessel.
A man whose 18-year-old daughter is aboard the missing American schooner believes the boat is still afloat and is just days away from making it to Australia.
Ricky Wright of Lafayette, Louisiana, has told a KATC news website that the yacht which his daughter Danielle is aboard is likely to be in an area away from where New Zealand's Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) has been looking.
He based his claim on the text message and said that because of privacy laws, it took days for the US Government to authorise the satellite-phone carrier to release the message.
This morning the Air Force Orion searched a new area in the Tasman Sea, checking infamous Middleton Reef and nearby Elizabeth Reef, 560 kilometres off the New South Wales coast, the site of numerous shipwrecks.
The 21-metre Nina left Opua in the Bay of Islands for Newcastle, Australia on May 29.
Wright told KATC that a satellite phone was used to send a text message to a meteorologist from
"My prediction is they are making three knots and the storm pushed them north of where they thought they would be," Wright told KATC.
"The main search area was south of where they are."
He said there were two major storms two days apart, one a rainstorm and the other a wind event. The storms tore the boat's storm sails, limiting its ability to make speed and manoeuvre as it worked against the currents.
"To put it in perspective, it's like sailing from the Mediterranean to the Bahamas," Wright said.
"Everyone follows the same course along the trade winds. They are doing the same thing, just against the prevailing winds."
Wright estimates the Nina is currently four or five days from making port in Australia.
Records show that conditions at the vessel's last known position were rough, with winds of 80kmh gusting to 110kmh and swells of up to eight metres.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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