Satellite search the only hope to trace trio on missing catamaran

2015-03-03 00:00

THE families of three sailors with whom they have had no contact for nearly two months hope to launch a ­satellite search for the missing catamaran they were sailing.

The luxury boat, skippered by former Cowies Hill resident Anthony Murray (58), and with Royal Natal Yacht Club stalwart Reginald Robertson (59) and first-time sailor Jaryd Payne (20) from Cape Town also on board, has been out of communication since January 18. The boat’s last known position was about 2 010 nautical miles off the Australian west coast.

The trio were delivering the high-end South African-built Leopard Catamaran, only known as Sunsail RC044-978, to Phuket, Thailand, and were expected to arrive on February 2. They were reported overdue to the Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) by Murray’s family on February 12.

Matthew Thomas, now assisting the family, said the area they may need to search is 400 000 square nautical miles.

“If their craft was disabled but not in an emergency, we need to decide where they would go. Anthony is ­experienced and delivering boats is his livelihood, so he may well have ­continued to Phuket. We also need to consider if something catastrophic may have happened, and whether they are drifting. Fortunately catamarans are not known to sink,” said Thomas.

He said while there is little information available, they knew that there “are two experienced yachtsmen aboard”.

“If they felt it not necessary to activate the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio), then there may not be an emergency. At this point it is a wait and see game.”

His correspondence with the ­Australian Maritime Safety Authority yesterday revealed that in order to search the area concerned, an estimated 183 flights using 732 search hours would be necessary.

Thomas helped locate the missing Moquini yacht which went missing in 2005 during the Mauritius-to-Durban yacht race. All six crew were presumed dead. The hull was found six months later near the Transkei.

Durban resident Philippa Savage, ­sister of Murray, said after not hearing anything for several weeks, the affected families decided to “get the media ­involved”.

“It is a complete emotional roller-coaster. We believe a satellite search would help and needed to raise funds to do so, otherwise it is almost impossible to find them,” she said.

Savage said her concern is that the EPIRB, a modern SOS device only used in an absolute emergency, had not been activated.

“We haven’t discussed that they may be deceased, but it is going through our minds. The discussion is that they are bobbing along very slowly. We want ­everyone’s help.”

The crew, who left Cape Town in ­December, last communicated on ­January 18.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.