21 Sep 2011

NZ man on board yacht missing in Atlantic

4:29 pm on 21 September 2011

The Irish Coastguard says an experienced Norwegian seaman refused to skipper a yacht that is now six days overdue on a transatlantic trip, because he was not happy with its condition.

The 32ft yacht Golden Eagle, skippered by a 69-year-old Norwegian man and crewed by a 60-year-old New Zealand man, left Bermuda on 21 August and was due to arrive in Crookhaven, in the southern Irish county of Cork, on 15 September.

The Coastguard says the the vessel's emergency radio beacon has not been activated, and the yacht may have been demasted.

Coastguard station officer Shane Dillon says it is understood another Norwegian seaman believed the yacht was not in a condition to sail across the Atlantic as the hurricane season approached, and refused to skipper it.

Mr Dillon says the yacht's owner had been making repairs for the past five months.

The Irish Coastguard says coastguard vessels from Ireland, Portugal and the Azores Islands, together with merchant ships and Irish air-force planes, have been watching for flares.

Mr Dillon says the vessel has a four-person liferaft.

He says the New Zealander has been operating vessels at St Thomas's in the Virgin Islands for many years and has no known next of kin.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is aware of reports of a missing New Zealand sailor, but has not been asked for consular assistance.