A ton of mystery surrounds the “ghost yacht” found off the Northeastern Australian coast last week. A relative of one of the three disappeared yachtsmen says she can feel his presence and knows he’s alive but “somewhere dark”.
Derek Batten, 56, and brothers James and Peter Tunstead, 63 and 69, neighbors from Perth set out from Airlie Beach in the Kaz II, a 40-ft yacht on April 15. Three days after, the Kaz II was discovered abandoned, 80 nautical miles off Townsville, north of Airlie Beach.
Several theories have sprung up regarding what happened to the crew members. On the BBC’s website, there is mention made of a “kidnapping” theory. Family members said the three rubber fenders on the side of the yacht hint at another ship pulling up by the Kaz II. Piracy has been speculated, even though police say they saw no sign of foul play. The other possibility, relatives said, was that the yachtsmen docked off on an island, forgot to anchor the yacht and it floated away.
Police also suggested that the crew members were washed overboard by a large wave, but relatives have questioned this, asking why their piled clothes remained intact and why the yachtsmen hadn’t worn their lifejackets if the weather was bad. They are described as experienced and cautious seamen.
According to a Reuters video report, when the yacht was discovered, the engine was running in neutral, the GPS navigation system was running and the sails were set, although one was badly shredded. A dinner table still had food on it. Three lifejackets, a dinghy, a charging laptop, flairs and a radio were on board. The arrangement of their clothes, wallets and sunglasses, rescue workers said, suggested they had gone for a swim.
A parallel has been drawn to the most famous ghost ship, the Marie Celeste, which was found intact but abandoned off the coast of Portugal in 1872. None of the crew members was ever found.
After five days of a sea and air rescue operation, Australian authorities called off the search but the yachtsmen’s relatives have hired three charter boats to continue combing the surrounding islands.