Private search for lost Nina
More than five months after an American yacht with seven people aboard disappeared in the Tasman Sea, a new private aerial search is getting under way this morning.
A Piper Twin Comanche is due to take off from Norfolk Island, 1070 kilometres north of Auckland, to search an area between Norfolk and Australia.
With seven people aboard, Nina left Opua, in the Bay of Islands on May 29 bound for Newcastle, Australia. It was last heard from on June 4, when conditions in the Tasman were very rough.
On June 25 the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCCNZ) launched what turned into one of their biggest-ever searches but with nothing found, suspended it on, July 4.
The private search is funded by families of the missing seven through a Facebook page.
They say they have enough funding to keep searching until the end of the week.
Families remain convinced the 85-year-old Nina is dismasted but floating in the Tasman, caught in the circular currents.
Both RCCNZ and the US State Department are convinced there is no evidence the boat is still afloat.
Maritime experts believe the 85-year-old yacht suffered a catastrophic failure and sank immediately without trace.
Family hopes have been kept going by 3.2 million grainy pictures of 500,000 square kilometres of the Tasman released to families by the New York Stock Exchange listed DigitalGlobe.
The company, which has five spy satellites and works mostly for the US military and intelligence services, is prohibited by US law from releasing its highest definition pictures.
Not only have the pictures been grainy and difficult to read, but they have also been slow to make it to an online crowdsourcing site where 13,000 volunteers search looking for Nina.
The families believe an image captured on September 16 was of Nina, but by the time any kind of search could be launched, it was 10 days old. The object seen in the picture has not been found again nor properly identified.