Maersk Containership Finds Overturned Hull, Yet No Sign of Missing Sailors

cheeki rafiki stormforce coaching
Cheeki Rafiki, image courtesy Stormforce Coaching/Facebook

While on a transatlantic sailboat delivery from Antigua to the UK, the crew on board the Beneteau 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki activated two of their EPIRBS (satellite locator beacons) as the vessel began to sink approximately 1000 nautical miles east of Cape Cod.

U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received the alert at approximately 1230am on Friday.  After 53 hours of searching however, nothing except an overturned hull was found and the search for the four Britons aboard has been called off.

“We remain devastated that the four missing crew from the yacht Cheeki Rafiki, Andrew, James, Paul and Steve have still not been found and that the US Coastguard has suspended the search,” commented Doug Innes, Principal and Director at Stormforce Coaching, the owners of the vessel.

“We remain hopeful that they are in the life raft although conditions have been poor in the Atlantic which would be very challenging for them. We are working, with the crew’s families, to try and persuade the US Coastguard to resume the search.”

Innes adds, “We were informed on Sunday that a capsized yacht had been found in the search area by the merchant ship M/V MAERSK KURE. However, the sea state prevented them from closely examining it which is very disappointing but understandable.”

The 1,000-foot motor vessel Maersk Kure located and captured an image of the capsized hull of what is presumed to be the 39-foot sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki, May 17, 2014. Photo courtesy of Maersk Kure
The 1,000-foot motor vessel Maersk Kure located and captured an image of the capsized hull of what is presumed to be the 39-foot sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki, May 17, 2014. Photo courtesy of Maersk Kure

To clarify the actions of the MAERSK KURE, Innes notes the containership “volunteered to remain and continue the search on Sunday until such time as it was stood down in the evening.”

The U.S. Coast Guard commented that based on weather conditions, emergency equipment, and the anticipated condition of the victims, “the estimated survival time past the time of distress was approximately 20 hours.”

Seas were 15 feet with winds surpassing 50 knots at the time of the incident. The air temperature was 59 with the water was 60 degrees.