Search for NINA Suspended

Schooner NINA

Schooner NINA in 1957. © Mystic Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection

The search for the missing schooner NIina has been suspended, after 12 days of search found no sign of the vessel or its crew.

Nina set sail from the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand en route to Newcastle, Australia on May 29. They were due to arrive on June 8. The last contact from the crew was with a meteorologist who had been advising them on deteriorating conditions in their path. On board are David Dyche, his wife Rosemary, and their son, also named David, a British man and three other Americans.

Maritime New Zealand said the last-known location for the Nina was about 425 miles northwest of Cape Reinga.

In a press release, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand’s Operations Manager, John Seward, said the search effort had comprehensively covered all areas where the vessel or its crew could reasonably have been expected to be found. “The search has been extremely thorough and we are confident that had the yacht or life raft been within those search areas, we would have found them,” he said.

“For this reason, after carefully reviewing all of the information gathered over the last month, and in the absence of any further developments, the Director of Maritime New Zealand has accepted the recommendation to formally suspend the search.

“This difficult decision has not been made lightly, and we are obviously disappointed that we have not found Nina’s crew,” said Mr Seward. “However, we have had to conclude there is nothing more we can do at this stage.”

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion covered about 737,000 square nautical miles (an area about eight times the size of New Zealand) in the search. There were also shoreline searches by fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

Seward said the suspension means the search will be stood down unless any new information comes to light.

Nina is one of the most famous designs of Starling Burgess and was built at Monument Beach, MA by Reuben Bigelow. She was launched in 1928. The 44 ton vessel is just over 58 feet long and was rigged as a staysail schooner. She was designed and built for the trans-Atlantic Race from New York City to Santander, Spain, which she won. She also raced in the 1928 Fastnet which she won in 4 days and 12 hours, 48 minutes–becoming the first American yacht to do so.

In the later ownership of yachtsman DeCoursey Fales, she won the Stamford to Vineyard Race and the Bermuda Race multiple times.

The Dyche family purchased Nina in 1988 with the intention of cruising the world.