Huge search fails to find 28m craft

An aerial search covering 1,100 kilometres of the South Pacific from Auckland to Norfolk Island has failed to find any trace of a large schooner with nine people on board which is overdue, reports Sail-World Cruising.

The search was launched after it failed to arrive at the New Zealand Bay of Island port of Opoua on Saturday as scheduled.

The 28-metre Alvei left Port Vila in Vanuatu on November 13, and concerns about its progress were raised late last month. The Alvei is described as a training vessel that gives passengers the experience of travelling on an old sailing ship.

Reports said the ship’s manifest listed four Australians, three US citizens, a New Zealander and an Englishman – ranging from 27 and 66 years of age.

Maritime New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre said the boat is believed to be equipped with communication facilities and a distress beacon, but had not responded to radio broadcasts and its emergency locator beacon had not been activated.

The sailing ship is now officially considered overdue.