A crowd-sourcing project has been helping to look for the missing South African yacht that vanished in January
An image of a suspected liferaft has been found by a crowd-sourcing search that is looking for a missing South African yacht that vanished in the Indian Ocean.
Relatives and friends of Anthony Murrary, 58, Jaryd Payne, 20, and Reginald Robertson, 59, haven’t had any contact with the crew after speaking to them via satellite phone on 18 January.
The group, who were delivering a Sunsail Leopard 44 catamaran to Thailand for Tui Marine, were expected to arrive in Phucket on 2 February but failed to show.
Setting sail from Cape Town in South Africa on 14 December, the crew were carrying enough food and supplies to last them 65 days.
Despite the yacht’s EPIRB not having been activated, relatives and friends say there is real concern that the group is in danger.
Since a crowd-sourcing search was set up through Tomnod in March, tens of thousands of people across the globe have been combing through satellite images to help try and find the group.
A vital discovery was made on Tuesday after a satellite image of what is believed to be a liferaft was found.
Following the sighting, sailor Alastair Newman wrote on the search’s Facebook group: “Here is an update of a suspected sighting made in the past 48 hours. It looks promising. Sufficiently positive, that we need to be directing some attention towards requesting a search.
“This area lies right between South Africa and Australia and is consequently a very long away from these two centres. The object is in a region passed by shipping travelling between South Africa and the Sunda Strait in Jakarta.
“Tomnod continue to post updated, periodic photographs of the search area. It is essential that we keep looking, because the more sightings, the more compelling the reason to arrange a search.
“Now is the time to be even more vigilant with identifying objects in the water.”
Both Mr Murray and Mr Robertson are said to be experienced yachtsman, while this was Mr Payne’s first long trip.
Reports also suggest that the yacht may have been in the vicinity of Tropical Cyclone Bansi, which intensified to a Category 5 on 13 January.
Posting on Facebook yesterday, Mr Murray’s sister-in-law Diane Coetzer said: “From the families, thank you to all of you who are continuing to search the Tomnod images. With new ones being added, our task in that area remains urgent and significant.
“We have been informed that the maritime authorities are drawing more information around the positive tag and we are currently awaiting feedback from them.
“The sailing community that is so hard at work, spreading the word on our search and actively assisting in many different ways, we are very grateful. We continue to have hope and are spending just about every waking minute on finding our loved ones.”