Updated August 9th
A note from Danielle’s mother, Robin Wright: “This week we finally received much needed data from NZ that allowed three different highly qualified teams of experts to analyze currents, drift patterns, and weather conditions based on the last undelivered SAT message sent from Niña. Previously New Zealand searched east, and we searched west, but we now know with relative certainty that they are drifting north. With this new information, we have a concrete game plan to search 300,000 sq. miles of ocean pinpointed by all three analysts.
“Many of you have asked how you can help. We need to raise over $300,000 immediately. To be blunt, if we don’t come up with the money right away, we won’t be able to fund this rescue.
“Ricky and I have pulled monies out of our savings and Danielle’s college fund. We have increased the limits on credit cards. Our family and friends have been extremely supportive. If Ricky and I, with the help of Texas Equusearch, didn’t stand on our unshakable belief that we must do all within our power to rescue the Niña crew, absolutely nothing would be happening today. Perhaps because we lived on a sailboat and understand this situation from personal experience rather than just reading negative news reports makes the distinct difference in our attitudes.
“Danielle and her mates have obviously gone through boat rations at this point, and are living off fresh fish and rain water. They are getting weaker as each day goes by. Danielle didn’t have any extra weight to lose on her 105 lb. body. Every bite I take, I wish I could be feeding her instead. Every hot shower brings sadness as I realize how cold and dirty she is. My daughter is not giving up, and we won’t, either.”
Danielle Wright is one of a crew of seven aboard the renown classic schooner Niña, which was last heard from June 4, 2013, when they obtained a weather briefing via an Iridium satellite telephone. The storied boat, built in 1928, has won some of the most competitive races in the world over the years. It departed Opua, New Zealand on May 29, 2013, bound for Newcastle, Australia, a 20-day voyage across the open Tasman Sea in winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
“I am speaking as a sailor and mother when I beg the U.S. government to come to our aid,” Wright wrote in an email to CW editors. “It’s staggering for us to raise the needed $500,000 to pay for private planes to search this vast area of the Tasman Sea. Just yesterday afternoon New Zealand released a little more data from its coast guard searches, and our team of volunteer experts have narrowed down the probable drift pattern to which the boat would now be after 58 days.
“The Niña crew is highly experienced and can survive for a time, but not indefinitely. New Zealand did its best to show us proof that the Niña sank, but could find no evidence; no floating debris; no signs that the ship broke apart. We know the Niña made it through the first two storms, and the third storm wasn’t as bad. The crew might have lost their mast and sails, but all reason tells us that the boat is still afloat. There is very little traffic in this area during the winter months, so we hold out little hope that anyone will spot them other than well-equipped planes looking for them.
“We are determined to fund the search ourselves,” she adds. Donations are sincerely appreciated. Please direct donors to Texas Equusearch.”
Texas EquuSearch founder and director Tim Miller believes there is hope for finding the Niña and its passengers alive, according to the rescue group’s website.
“Concerned family member and friends are hoping to utilize the resources of the American government and any other private resources available to continue the search including covering the New Zealand Air Force fuel costs to continue search efforts,” the site states. “New Zealand has a relatively small population and outside support is necessary to continue the at-sea search efforts. The captain and crew represent Americans from five different states and an Englishman.” Contributions can be made to the Texas EquuSearch S/V Niña Search Fund.
Aboard Niña are skipper David Dyche III, 58, his wife, Rosemary, 60, son David Dyche IV, 17, Evi Nemeth, 73, Kyle Jackson, 27 and Danielle Wright, 19, all Americans. Also aboard is Brit Matthew Wootton, 35.
The missing boat and crew are the focus “Tasman’s Taunting Sea,” the Off Watch essay by CW senior editor Herb McCormick in the September 2013 issue.