Nina, Missing At Sea: Don’t Give Up The Search


Below is part of an email being circulated to the yachting community, asking people to encourage Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand to NOT give up the search for the Schooner Nina.

On the 03 of July 2013 exactly one month after the storm that disabled Nina you chose to be brutally candid with the two young people above. They reported to a few of us Family your comments and asked we did not circulate this;-

Quote ” Yesterday Wednesday the 3rd didn’t go well. With all the information they (nz rcc) have they are looking at stopping the air search.

Cold hard facts (and nz rcc opinion):

1) If Nina is intact they have 3 possible ways to communicate and have not communicated

2) if they are in a life raft the high probability areas have been visually searched  (not all but the high value areas)

3) If they are in the water unprotected from an event on the 4th of June they are dead.  Nz rcc considers a catastrophic event on the 4th the most likely event, and that Nina sunk.

I have been and continue to argue for “Nina is intact but disabled and drifting from evis last position report to the north west”. Nz rcc response is if the Nina is intact they should set off the EPIRB because they should know a search will be underway by now for them. My response and what I continue to argue is “we are talking a male captain that is of the personality type to only use an EPIRB if the vessel is actually sinking, he would not use it for something as trivial as a position report ” Unquote

I fully endorse Laz’s comments, the SPOT in my opinion is a toy when considering ocean passage use and further more Evi had trouble with her Spot on other passages one being to NZ-you can’t say it is a serious method of Communications. The Iridium is prone to antenna damage and is not waterproof so in the conditions Nina was in and running down wind where there would be no protection at all in the Cockpit from rain nor sea water I can easily see the Iridium failing, which leaves the EPIRB.I dispute your assumption based on what we know that Nina suffered a catastrophic failure and Sunk-Following are comments from a Naval Architect on this subject.

I have worked on Nina twice, once in Galapagos and the second time in 2011 in Neiafu Tonga. I seem to recall the EPIRB was located just inside the companionway to Stb where there was a bunk,that attracted lots of gear torchs, hand held, cell phones etc the small companion way doors hinged out.

RCC NZ has an incredibly good International Reputation up to date however I wish to to convey to all of you at RCCNZ that I and many others consider you will have betrayed the trust of the of Nina’s crew and the wider yachting community should you stop searching now.

You have a job I would find difficult to perform but you are Professionals. You have failed Nina’s crew and families already 4 specific times, do not make a fifth failure and stop searching where in all probability it is you that have been searching the wrong area until yesterday.

As you were on the 03 July brutally honest in your views to our young reps, let me in turn convey to you what we consider the 5 specific RCC NZ failures to be;

1] Despite being notified and being given a huge volume of information by us, the families and friends,between the [09Jun Amsa] 10Jun RCC NZ] you folks decided for some obscure reason only to make Radio calls till the 25 June when we were told Nina would arrive in Australia!!!! Time has proved this to be a the first of your grave mistakes and this was with the full knowledge that Nina had gone thru a sever storm on the 03 and 04 Jun, we had provided you with last known positions of Nina and a heap of Information including weather info from Bob Mc Davitt.

2] On the 19 Jun 13 we the family were advised via contacts that the Water Police reported Nina had been found and were only 5 days out of New Castle, that they would arrive on the 25 Jun…This was next day found to be false and the families were devastated. It is too much of a coincidence that NZ RCC had the same date as a magical arrival date, it is obvious that the two are related, this was an unforgivable breach in Public Relations by search and rescue.

3] You report on 15 Jun 13 that you approached Iridium and gained a Position report from them. Now if you knew this was possible please explain why you were not aware that Iridium Sat Phones had a very doubtful position reporting capability, which is well reported and Documented on Internet. It is also I understand a point Iridium has advised these limitations of their position reporting. Sorry but there can be no excuse for this oversight when lives are at risk.

4] To compound the failure in para 3] above you then used this erroneous position to base all your search’s which meant you in all probability were searching in the wrong places, and not the area that you should have been searching. You ignored the position given by Evi on Nina saying it was incorrect. Let me inform you Evi was so meticulous with Navigation she was a pain in the butt, she taught Mathematic’s at University level, her memory was frightening there was no mistake,she was unflappable in emergencies We further more had asked Bob Mc Davitt to check and recheck his findings re the weather in the two locations all this was passed to you. Bob supported our argument that Evi’s text position was the correct last known position for Nina, a position that if you had used it you would have searched in different areas.

The final Negative point regarding the Search for Nina must be the Iridium Policy of disclosure when lives are at risk. This factor I am sure will go Viral around the world as soon as it is released, bringing with it world attention back to the Nina search, does RCC NZ want to be found wanting?

Gentlemen and Ladies of RCC NZ , the crew of Nina deserve better, they are human, you are human we all make mistakes the true great people of our world are the ones who accept being wrong and will take immediate steps to put the wrong right, you have that opportunity by continuing to search those areas to the Northwest that you have not searched perhaps all the way to the Australian coast.

Involve the Australia Search and Rescue. To date, all they have been asked to do is use the radio. They have Orions available as well, allow them to do coastal searches out to Lord Howe Island to overlap where the NZ Orions have searched. It appears to the outside world that NZ SAR doesn’t want assistance from their closest neighbor in the search. Why not utilize ALL of the resources available, especially now that so much time has been wasted.

Simply you owe the Nina crew and their families to do these last few days of searching, once the area is covered your task will be honorably completed…Thank you for your time and all your hard work, don’t for a minute think it is not appreciated, by all mariners.

Yours sincerely

Curly Carswell

Another related article here about Evi Nemeth


  1. I just finished a 6000 mile passage from the west coast of Mexico to North Carolina. Here is my input on Spot. It is too thick to be a book mark. It is good for nothing else.

  2. First of all what the hell are you talking about Captain Rick? That was a powerful letter and when making a crossing like that can make you feel all alone at times, so I think that if they knew that the sat phone locater was faulty then they should have used the location that was reported to them from the boat. Powerful letter Curly. I hope for the best and pray for there recovery.

  3. I realize it is an emotional subject, but as a Search and Rescue Planner/Coordinator for the U. S. Coast Guard with 10plus years experience, the actions of the New Zealand RCC seem appropriate based on the information provided above. The U. S. Coast Guard would probably already have suspended this search.

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