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Mid-Atlantic: Four British yachtsmen missing - Debris Sighted

By Various News Sources all listed next to report links — last modified May 22, 2014 09:11 AM
Latest News 22nd May: Malisi sights debris in search of Cheeki Rafiki.

Published: 2014-05-22 06:30:00
Topics: Atlantic Crossing , Safety and Medical
Countries: Azores , United Kingdom , Antigua & Barbuda

Mid-Atlantic: Four British yachtsmen missing - Debris Sighted

Cheeki Rafiki: Copyright stormforce.biz

News Update May 22nd 2014 by World Cruising Club.

Malisi sights debris in search of Cheeki Rafiki

The US coast guard were informed by Malisi (Outremer 64) that debris had been sighted at 2100UTC  on 21/05 within the search area of missing yacht Cheeki Rafiki. The sighting comes after Malisi spent 36 hours scouring the area after diverting to assist with the search, under direction of the US Coastguard. Skipper Patrick Michel reported the object appeared to be ‘a wooden plank about 1-1.5m long and 20-30cm wide, medium brown in colour’ and that no marine growth was apparent, indicating that it is likely to have entered the water relatively recently. Two other items of debris were also sighted by Malisi with the search area and reported to the US Coastguard.

Following the sighting,  Malisi has now left the search area and resumed course for their original destination of Horta in the Azores islands, due to crew commitments. They have been praised internationally and thanked by the families of the missing men for their efforts in assisting with the search. British yacht Gertha 4, also part of the ARC Europe fleet, has now entered the search area and begun to sail in a search pattern in the hope of further sightings.

Earlier Reports for Missing Yachtsmen - US Coastguard Resumes Search

After a surge of public support, the US Coastguard were urged to resume the search earlier this week. SY Malisi, taking part in the ARC Europe Rally run by World Cruising Club, diverted to join the search as well. Links to various reports and original news report below:

Latest Search Information by YBW.com, 20 May 2014 at 19:11 at Search Information for Cheeki Rafiki
If you know of anyone in the area & can communicate, please pass it on.

Report by the BBC, 20 May 2014, at Missing Yacht - US Coast Guard Resumes Search

Statement by US Coastguard on suspension of search, reported by Scuttlebutt Sailing News, 19 May 2014.

Report by Practical Boat Owner 19 May 2014, at Growing call for US Coast Guard to resume search for British yachtsmen

Report by the Independent 19 May, 2014, at Missing yacht: Family urge US coastguard to continue search for missing yachtsmen in mid-Atlantic Ocean

First report posted below, by the Guardian 18 May, 2014, at www.theguardian.com

One of Britain's youngest star yachtsmen is missing at sea along with three crew members after the boat they were sailing from the Caribbean is feared to have capsized in the Atlantic Ocean.

Andrew Bridge, 21, was skipper of the Cheeki Rafiki 12-metre (40ft) yacht, which ran into difficulties on Thursday while returning to the UK from Antigua Sailing Week.

Bridge was on board the vessel with Paul Goslin, 56, Steve Warren, 52, and 23-year-old James Male.

Contact with the four yachtsmen was lost in the early hours of Friday after the yacht began taking on water and diverted to the Azores, in the north Atlantic Ocean. A two-day search covering 4,146 square miles by US and Canadian aircraft and merchant vessels was called off at dawn on Sunday, with the four men believed to have abandoned the vessel to a life raft.

Doug Innes, director of the British yacht training and charter firm Stormforce Coaching, praised the extensive search efforts but said he was "devastated" they had been called off so soon. Stormforce, which was acting as managing agent for the Cheeki Rafiki yacht, said in a statement: "The yacht Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7, was on passage from the Caribbean to the UK with a crew of four yachtsmen. On Thursday she started taking on water.

"We were in contact with the skipper and at the time the yacht and crew were keeping the situation stable. They had not been able to ascertain where the water ingress was from and were diverting to the Azores.

"Unfortunately we lost contact during the early hours of Friday morning and we believe the crew abandoned to the life raft. Search and rescue authorities were mobilised and a mixture of Canadian and US aircraft along with merchant vessels searched throughout Friday and Saturday. Although the search efforts coordinated by Boston were exceptional we are devastated that search has been called off so soon after the abandonment to a life raft.

"Our thoughts are with the four yachtsmen and their families and we hope and pray for them all."

The US Coast Guard said a crew from the 300-metre (1,000ft) Maersk Kure had spotted an overturned hull that matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki on Saturday, but found no sign of the sailors.

The search was centred on a 4,146-square-mile stretch of Atlantic Ocean 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and comprised three aircraft and three merchant vessels. The weather conditions in the search area were 30-knot winds, described as a slight to moderate sea breeze, and four- to five-metre (13-15ft) seas.

The search was called off at 5am local time on Sunday, the US Coast Guard said. Captain Anthony Popiel, the US 1st Coast Guard district chief of response, said: "We appreciate the assistance of the US air force, Canada and the three merchant vessels helping us to conduct a thorough search so far from shore.

"We are extremely disappointed that we were not able to locate the sailors during the course of this extensive search. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time."

It is understood that the missing sailors made an initial call by satellite phone on Thursday about water onboard the vessel, before a second brief call four hours later that said conditions were deteriorating but with no further information. Shortly afterwards, the US Coast Guard launched a search operation after receiving a distress alert from Bridge.

The four were described as very experienced yachtsmen and Bridge, the youngest of the group, as a highly qualified skipper.

The following information received from Jonathan Chambler, relatives of Paul Goslin.

An update to this search report is that  the yacht may have been found capsized but no sight of the 4 crew as yet. The air search has been called off due to low visibility.

Saturday, 17 May 2014, 20:57

S/V CHEEKI RAFIKI Search Update as of 2000Z on 17MAY:

Original Position of Distress: 38-45N, 048-00W

Most Recent Personal Locator Beacon location: 38-34.9N; 048-15.4W at 2310Z 16 May 2014.

Number of Searches Completed: 21

On Scene Weather: Wind: ESE Approx 30 KTS; Seas: 4M (Approx 10-13 FT)  VISIBILITY: 5NM

Current Search Efforts: Air Force C-130 and M/V MAERSK KURE.

Future Search Plans: Air Force C-130 and M/V MAERSK KURE.

Notes: The most recent PLB information listed above is still the last notification received and no further electronic or audible alerts. The first failure to receive a scheduled notification occurred at 0004Z and the last failed report was 0559Z. The Air Force C-130 is on scene and is planning on searching to sunset.

M/V MAERSK KURE has located a capsized vessel in position 38-15.7N 048-38W.  The vessel was located in an area consistent with the drift model, approximately 25NM SW of the last PLB notification.  There are no signs of people on board or a life raft.  Current weather conditions prevent M/V MAERSK KURE from launching a small craft to investigate.

*Aircraft can provide additional rescue equipment to include life raft and provisions upon any sign of life. Motor Vessel on scene has the ability to lower its life raft for personnel recovery. So far, air assets have deployed flares in the area of debris/PLB position to better mark the position and facilitate search efforts.

RCC Boston

Feed: Coast Guard News
Posted on: 16 May 2014 22:12
Subject: Coast Guard searching for 4 sailors 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod


BOSTON — The Coast Guard is searching for four sailors 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Friday.

Watchstanders from the 1st Coast Guard District command center in Boston were notified at approximately 12:30 a.m., Friday, of two 406MHz personal locator beacons registered to the 39-foot U.K.-flagged sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki.

The Cheeki Rafiki’s agent in the U.K. also told the U.S. Coast Guard the last message they received from the crew stated they were taking on water with four people on board.

A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew immediately launched to locate the sailing vessel.

The district command center watchstanders also contacted available vessels in the area to assist. Crews from the 600-foot Teesta Spirit and the 652-foot Georgia Highway diverted to assist.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Center Halifax, Nova Scotia, also launched a Canadian Air National Guard C-130 aircraft to assist in the search.

The Hercules crew arrived on scene at approximately 8:30 a.m. The crew continued to search through the morning and located small pieces of debris, but no sign of the sailors. The air crew departed the area for Halifax, Nova Scotia, to refuel and swap flight crews.

“It is extremely challenging to respond to a distress case so far off shore, which is why it takes a joint effort with our international partners to put forward an effective search,” said Capt. Anthony Popiel, 1st Coast Guard District Chief of Response. “We are especially grateful to have the merchant vessel assistance with the surface given the inclement weather.”

Weather on scene is 50-knot winds and 15-foot seas.

The 1st Coast Guard District covers from New Jersey to Canada with search and rescue duties extending approximately 1,300 miles from shore. Units across the Northeast conduct more than 2,500 search and rescue cases in a year, and rescue more than 300 people.

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