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Old 05-06-2007, 01:51 AM   #21
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To my mind the fenders theory (leaving them tied on but on deck) sounds plausible (possibly bad practice but we've probably all seen it done many times before) can't really fathom why you'd have your engine running and full sails unless it was to bring the boat head-to-wind to fix a problem or furl or drop them but this also sounds a bit dangerous if you've got a fishing line out (snagged prop.).

I see that the main is reefed a tad which would suggest some reasonable wind (although not excessive). The ripped sail may be as a result of the boat floundering around out of control for days, so that may be a red-herring. The kidnapped theory sounds a little weak given that so much easy cash and valuables were left on the boat (laptops/wallets/cameras etc.) - surely 'pirates' would have taken everything that wasn't bolted down. Hopefully the GPS will shed some light on their course to either support or rule out the sandbar theory. Sadly I agree with a couple of other posters, that we may never find the missing sailors or find out what really happened.

Best wishes go out to family and friends.

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Old 05-14-2007, 09:22 AM   #22
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Sunglasses and hats missing from a catamaran may hold the key to the three men missing from their yacht. Cosima Marriner reports.

AMID all the wild conspiracy theories floating around the ghost ship Kaz II, searchers are contemplating a simpler, yet far more chilling explanation for the disappearance of three sailors off the Whitsunday coast.Perhaps they ran aground on a sandbar near George Point, from where the 9.8 metre catamaran last made radio contact on a Sunday evening in mid-April. The skipper Derek Batten and his crewmates, brothers Peter and Jim Tunstead, jumped into the warm Coral Sea waters to try to push the boat free. A gust of wind came up, carrying the Kaz II away before they could scramble back onboard, leaving them stranded.

This could explain why the Kaz II was found three days later drifting 60 nautical miles off Townsville, its engine still running but with no sign of the crew. It could explain why the only items missing from the boat were three pairs of sunglasses and two hats, why T-shirts and towels were left neatly folded on the deck, and why down in the cabin, laptops, mobile phones, wallets, watches, cameras and a Sunday paper were still spread out on the table.

"It looks like they've just stepped off the boat," Jim Tunstead's daughter, Keryn Grey, told the Herald. Yet, like all the ghost ship theories that have become dinner party fodder around Airlie Beach, this one still lacks evidence to substantiate the hypothesis.

Indeed, three weeks into the search for the Kaz II crew, new information and theories continue to emerge, which may yet help the families and police solve the mystery. The Herald can reveal how problems with the boat's navigation system had forced the sailors to turn back and how after 11 hours at sea they were only 2½ hours sailing time from their departure point.

For more than six months a picture of Kaz II held pride of place on Jim Tunstead's Perth kitchen table, a constant symbol of the "trip of a lifetime" he was about to embark upon. He and his brother Peter were going to help their neighbour Derek Batten sail his boat from Airlie Beach back to Perth. They would spend six to eight weeks hugging the coast all the way around the top of Australia, mooring somewhere new each night.

"He was so excited," recalls Ms Grey. "They'd been planning this for months and months. [He'd been looking forward to] not working, just fishing, sitting around bullsh*onet*ting and joking with Uncle Peter."

But Ms Grey refused to look at her father's beloved picture of the Kaz II. She had serious misgivings about three men aged 56, 63 and 69 taking to the seas in a boy's own adventure.




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Old 11-11-2007, 11:42 AM   #23
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For what it's worth.

These 3 guys were my neighbours - they lived one canal over from me in South Yunderup.

To be quite honest with you - they were not experienced enough to have undertaken the cruise that they did.

They needed a couple able bodied younger guys aboard, to sal that vessel in bad weather. Even the skipper had no real navigation experience. He was using his laptop and hald held GPS to navigate, and getting help from his sone by mobile phone to use the laptop, gps etc..

They had only just bought the yacht and had only a couple hours tuition from the owner before setting out.

Their plan to hug the coast and stop somewhere new each night was at best niaive in the extreme...it has been suggested that their engine power was insufficient to defeat the tides they would encounter in the torres straits had they made it that far and struck zero wind conditions.

They were lovelly fellows each of them, but in no way classed as experienced open water sailors.

I am sorry they were lost and that the families will probably never have closure, but in reality it is quite likely had they not been lost within the first 48 hours of their voyage as they were that they wouldn't have made the next 48 without having become so.

Thats a hard thing to say - but I've seen these guys sail - pretty hard not too when they are your neighbours and you have to traverse their canal to the estuary and open water beyond both comming and going every day. I'd always wave to them - and they would wave back - but sailing protocols like leaving fenders out weren't high on their agenda from my observations.

Sorry to say that, but I'm a qualified professional sailor and I take note of the actions of sailors around me - and these 3 guys had no business being where they were - doing what they were attempting. They were not experienced enough for the undertaking IMHO.

I feel for their families and friends who have spent so much time and effort looking for them.

It seems we will never know the real story now of what happened. Thats a shame because maybe something worthwhile could have been learned from it for others.

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Old 08-08-2008, 06:30 PM   #24
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The Coroner's report:

Mr Barnes concluded either Peter or Jim Tunstead had fallen into the water behind the boat while trying to retrieve a lure which had become tangled around the boat's rudder.

The other brother had subsequently fallen in while attempting a rescue.

Mr Barnes found the vessel's skipper Mr Batten was trying to adjust the sails so he could turn around and go back for the two men, but a change in wind direction caused the yacht's boom to swing and knock him overboard.

"Once the three men were in the water there was very little chance they could get back on the boat as it was blown before a 15 knot wind and they struggled in lumpy seas,'' Mr Barnes said.

"It would be beyond their reach in seconds.

``From that point, the end would have been swift. None of them was a good swimmer, the seas were choppy, the men would quickly have become exhausted and sunk beneath the waves.''

He labelled the sequence of events "a freak accident''.

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Old 08-13-2008, 09:11 AM   #25
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Full Final Coroner's Report (pdf) - for those who may be interested.

The end of a very tragic saga - our thoughts go out to the families.

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Old 08-15-2008, 06:26 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Lighthouse View Post

Kidnap theory for missing yachtsmen

Relatives of the skipper of an empty yacht found drifting off north Queensland say they believe the three missing crew members are alive, but in danger.

Hope Himing, niece of Derek Batten, 56, said she and her mother have had "spiritual contact" from her uncle - known to the family as "Des" - suggesting he is alive but fighting for his life.

"My mum and I are both Spiritualists. My mum's had a really strong feeling from Des that he's somewhere dark and he can't see and I don't feel that he's dead either," Ms Himing said.

"I don't think he's got a lot left in him but I actually don't think he's dead, and so everything we can do to get (people) out there looking again is a huge thing."

Ms Himing said she believes Mr Batten and his crew members - brothers Peter and James Tunstead, aged 69 and 63, all from Perth - may have been kidnapped.

The trio went missing some time after their yacht left Shute Harbour at Airlie Beach the Sunday before last. The 9.8-metre catamaran, KAZ II, was found unmanned and adrift off the coast of Townsville last Wednesday.

Emergency service crews found the engine running, computers turned on, food on the table and the GPS system operating - but no sign of the boat's crew.

"It just doesn't all add up," Ms Himing said. "If it was bad weather why would their fishing line be out? "Why would their clothes be piled up (and) if it was that bad that it would have knocked three experienced sailors off, why wouldn't they have put on their lifejackets?"

Ms Himing dismissed police suggestions that the experienced sailors were washed overboard in bad weather.

She said she strongly believed that the yacht was boarded, and that they may have been kidnapped.

"The fenders were out on their yacht, and the only reason you ever put them out is when another boat comes aside or if you come to rest against a wharf," she said. "It looks like they've been boarded."

Ms Himing said the families would continue to search Airlie Beach and the surrounding islands until they had closure. She expressed dismay at the amount of time authorities spent searching the area, and said James Tunstead's son, Shane Webber, had already told them he would continue his own search until he found something.

"The police have dropped interest very quickly and dropped the search ... we feel hugely let down about this," Ms Himing said.

"They've spent days longer looking for other people in situations like this, so why have they called this one off so quickly?"

Ms Himing said the lack of closure was the most painful part of the situation.

"The hardest thing for us now is waiting and not knowing," she said. "You can deal with a bad accident (where) they've passed away because you know, but when you don't, and to have so many questions hanging over it... it's very difficult."

Queensland police said in a statement on Monday night they would continue to keep "a watchful eye" for the three missing men.

"Despite the search being officially suspended, a Queensland Police Service aircraft will continue to monitor in an effort to locate the bodies of the missing three men," the statement said.

But police said medical advice was that the chances of survival would be "highly unlikely".

The fenders being out? Table set for a cooked meal on the table? Not on the floor? Computer on not soaked? Engine running while wind is abound? Maybe to maneuver close quarters with another vessel?The sails may have been damaged while adrift, it wouldn't take long with nobody aboard. I would be feeling the same as the family...Sounds fishy! One thing I did not see was the experience level of the skipper and crew? I don't see anyone being knocked overboard by a jibe unless they were all on the roof of the dodger/ house, looks pretty strange. The only thing is why? No contact? No randsom demand? It really is kinda spooky. My sympathies to the families. I hope they will know what happened someday.

Steve aka islandseeker

For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know. The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my alloted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.

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