Posted: Jul 3, 2013 12:18 PM by Dwayne Fatherree
Updated: Aug 22, 2013 11:29 AM
A Lafayette businessman whose daughter is aboard a missing yacht off the Australian coast says a text message was received from the crew of the boat after it passed through rough storms last month.
Ricky Wright said he learned Wednesday morning that a satellite phone was used to send a text message to a meteorologist from the 70-foot schooner Nina after it had passed through two storms in early June. According to the message, the schooner had damaged sails from the high winds but was still making headway at 4 knots per hour.
Danielle Wright, 18, is one of the people missing on the Nina. Prior to today's information, the boat had not been heard from since June 4, when it was about 370 nautical miles west-northwest New Zealand.
Ricky Wright said the message was not delivered when sent. Because of privacy laws, it took weeks for the U.S. government to authorize the satellite phone carrier to release the message.
"My prediction is they are making 3 knots, and the storm pushed them north of where they thought they would be," Ricky Wright told KATC Wednesday morning. "The main search area was south of where they are."
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) suspended the search for the on Wednesday as bad weather hit the search area reducing visibility. They are using the down time to reassess the search effort.
Along with Danielle Wright were five other U.S. citizens -- three men aged 17, 28 and 58 and two other women aged 60 and 73 -- and a British man aged 35.
The boat, which was built in 1928, left Opua, New Zealand, on May 29, headed for Newcastle, Australia.
Ricky Wright 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 maneuver 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 that the Nina is currently four or five days from making port in Australia.