Text message renews hopes for Florida Keys family aboard a missing schooner

 

fpeinado@MiamiHerald.com

Hopes of finding a Florida Keys family aboard a missing schooner near New Zealand were renewed Wednesday after rescue teams acknowledged they have a text message sent by a crew member just before the boat vanished.

The text is the only clue as to the fate of the Nina, carrying a family from Tavernier and four others.

"Thanks. Storm sails shredded last night, now bare poles. Going 4kt 310DEG Will update course info @6pm," the text says.

The message was sent from a satellite phone at 11.50 p.m. June 3 on the schooner carrying seven people. The status: undelivered. The receiver: unknown.

Because of privacy laws, it took weeks for the U.S. government to authorize the satellite phone carrier, Iridium, to release the message.

Iridium said that, when first contacted by the New Zealand-based Rescue Coordination Center, it provided the last known position of the 85-year-old schooner in less than 45 minutes.

Believed onboard are Capt. David Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60, and their son David, 17. Also aboard were four others: family friend, Evi Nemeth, 73; a 28-year-old man, and an 18-year-old woman, plus a 35-year-old British man.

The Nina had left New Zealand on May 29 bound for Australia when it apparently ran into foul weather. The revelation of the text gave relatives hope, but Cherie Hernandez, David Dyche’s twin sister, was angry after the late disclosure of the critical message.

Iridium confirmed that there were no additional messages received from the Nina, according to the RCC.

Aerial searches were renewed Thursday, after having been suspended Wednesday because of heavy rain and poor visibility. Extensive aerial searches over the past week have found no traces of the crew, their vessel or life rafts.

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