Timor Sea, 80nm from Darwin: Sunken yacht discovered by trawler

ABC radio Darwin Australia reports that a trawler snagged a sunken yacht about 80 miles out of Darwin in 80-90 metres of water. After 6 hours the net was retrieved with mast and rigging entangled. It seems the yacht’s sails were up. The marine growth suggests the wreck is only 6-10 months old. The mast is painted blue and the furling headsail was made in Sydney. Police are investigating.

Published 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Concerns of bodies on mystery yacht

Police are concerned unidentified bodies may lie beneath the Timor Sea, after a fishing trawler pulled up part of a yacht in its nets.

The mystery yacht, which may have links to Sydney and New Zealand, was discovered by a ship owned by Australia Bay Seafoods in about 90m of water last week.

Co-owner of the company Bill Passey said the crew of the ship realised their nets had a giant snag last week while trawling about 170kms from Darwin.

“They hooked up there and it took about six hours to get off and eventually when they did get off something gave way,” Mr Passey told the ABC.

“They pulled up … and amongst all the tangled mess was a sail and a mast off a yacht,” he said.

The rest of the yacht is thought to still lie at the bottom of the sea, but because the sail appeared to have been up, police are worried it may have had people aboard when the vessel went down.

Senior Constable Wade Rogers from NT Water Police said the possibility of fatalities was an obvious concern.

“We have obviously checked our databases and we have also been in contact with the water police in Queensland and WA and also the Australian Search and Rescue Authority,” Snr Const. Rogers said.

“From what we can establish there are no outstanding persons that haven’t been located in Australian waters.”

He said modelling had shown that the yacht could have drifted to its current location from Indonesia, and the investigation was now looking into that possibility.

There are clues as to the yacht’s identity.

A mollusc expert told police he believed the vessel had been in the ocean for 8-10 months, and the sail was a type made by a boutique sailmaker from Sydney.

Mr Passey said the stainless steel rings on the blue mast that was recovered were made in Auckland.

“They may be able to piece some things together,” Mr Passey said.

Because the yacht was in about 90m of water it is below the depth at which specialist police divers can easily go to investigate the site.

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