10/9/07

Mas de buques fantasmas - Kaz II -

Una historia reciente: el Kaz














Kaz II, ¿el 'Mary Celeste' del siglo XXI?

El descubrimiento en aguas australianas de un yate de 12 metros vacío, con comida intacta en la mesa y al menos un ordenador portátil encendido, es un caso digno de CSI, pero no sólo eso. Parece una réplica contemporánea de uno de los grandes misterios de la navegación, el del Mary Celeste, un bergantín que fue encontrado vacío a 500 millas al oeste de España el 4 de diciembre de 1872. Como en el Kaz II, el Mary Celeste fue encontrado intacto y tampoco había en él ni rastro de la tripulación, aunque 130 años después, existe una explicación plausible al misterio de la que hablo más abajo. Pero el protagonista hoy es el yate de lujo hallado abandonado en la Gran Barrera de Coral con las velas izadas y el motor en punto muerto.

El Kaz II partió el domingo del puerto australiano de Airlie Beach con rumbo a Perth, en un viaje que le iba a llevar entre seis y ocho semanas. Viajaban en él tres jubilados de Yunderup, cerca de Perth, aficionados a la pesca: Derek Batten, de 56 años y sus vecinos James y Peter Tunstead, de 63 y 69.Una aeronave de los guardacostas avistó el barco a la deriva el miércoles e intentó, infructuosamente, contactar por radio con la tripulación. Ayer, un miembro d elos equipos de rescate se descolgó al mar desde un helicóptero y abordó la embarcación.

"Subieron a bordo y dijeron que el motor estaba en marcha, la computadora funcionando, un ordenador portátil encendido, la radio y el GPS también, y la comida servida en la mesa, pero no había ni rastro de la tripulación", explicaba ayer a la agencia AP el portavoz de la Oficina de Emergencias del Estado de Queensland, Jon Hall. Tres chalecos salvavidas, un bote neumático y el radiofaro seguían en la nave, pero no había botes salvavidas inflables (los investigadores creen que los desaparecidos pudieron hacerse a la mar sin ellos). La vela de proa estaba rasgada, posiblemente a consecuencia del tiempo que el barco había permanecido a la deriva, y no había ningún otro desperfecto, lo que sumado, al buen tiempo reinante, tiene intrigada a la Policía.

La familia de James Justin confía en que los tres hombres se hayan montado en un bote y abandonado el catamarán temporalmente sin anclarlo bien. "Es la esperanza que tenemos, que se olvidarán de anclarlo y se fuera a la deriva. Los tres idiotas", ha dicho Keryn Grey, su hija, a un canal de televisión. Barry Haldan, que tiene un negocio de alquiler de embarcaciones en Shute Harbour, es bastante más pesimista. Cree que uno de los hombres pudo caer al agua, los otros se lanzaron a rescatarle y luego no pudieron volver a subir al barco, que quedó a la deriva, con sus ocupantes indefensos en unas aguas repletas de tiburones. Mientras, la Policía examina el GPS para ver cuáles fueron los movimientos del catamarán y nueve aviones, dos helicópteros y cuatro barcos buscan a los jubilados en un área de 1.300 kilómetros cuadrados.

¿El fin de un misterio?



El misterio del Mary Celeste tiene una explicación plausible desde hace tres años, aunque es de suponer que la mayor parte de los medios la ignorarán cuando hablen estos días del caso del Kaz II. La presentó Brian Hicks en su libro Ghost ship. The mysterious true story of the Mary Celeste and her missing crew. Recordaba Lawrence David Kusche, en El triángulo de las Bermudas solucionado (1974) que "se han contado tantas historias acerca del famoso derrelicto, a lo largo del siglo, que es casi imposible determinar lo que es realidad y lo que es ficción". Pues, bien, Hicks intenta separar el grano de la paja y demuestra, por ejemplo, que la parte el hallazgo de la comida servida en la mesa -como en el caso de Kaz II- es en realidad parte de un cuento que Arthur Conan Doyle ambientó en el barco desaparecido en 1883. Si quieren leer el relato en cuestión, titulado El capitán del Polestar, lo pueden descargar aquí en inglés de la web del proyecto Gutemberg y lo pueden comprar en español en una edición reciente de Valdemar.

Lo más importante del trabajo de Hicks, explicaba el psicólogo Terence Hines en The Skeptical Inquirer hace un par de años, es que ofrece una posible explicación al enigma de la desaparición del capitan Benjamin Spooner Briggs, su esposa Sara, su hija de dos años Sophia y toda la tripulación, y el hallazgo del barco prácticamente intacto y sin botes salvavidas. El autor cree que la causa pudo estar en la bodega del Mary Celeste, que iba cargado con 1.700 barriles de alcohol industrial, algunos de los cuales se encontraron vacíos, como si el líquido se hubiera evaporado. En total, calcula que se perdieron así unos 2.000 litros de alcohol. Los vapores llegaron a suponer un peligro para la tripulación y como apenas soplaba el viento en la zona, el capitán optó por airear el barco y trasladar a todos sus ocupantes a un bote salvavidas atado al bergantín hasta que la atmósfera fuera respirable. Una repentina tempestad rompió entonces el cabo y dejó a los ocupantes del Mary Celeste a la deriva. ¿Complicado? Sí. ¿Plausible? También. Desde luego, más que las desapariciones misteriosas camino a dimensiones desconocidas o secuestrados por extraterrestres. Y explicaría por qué el capitan Briggs y su tripulación dejaron todo a bordo como si fueran a volver en cualquier momento.


Escrito por Luis Alfonso Gámez a las 02:27 am Ver/Hacer comentario (34)


Crew lost at sea: Kaz II inquest starts in Townsville on August 4

LEONIE JOHNSON

SILENT WITNESS ... Kaz II, the ghost ship, is docked on dry land, unable to tell what happened to its crew below, on that mysterious night in April last year

More than a year later, a coronial inquest will be held. Leonie Johnson prepares us for that journey

IT sits as eeriely empty as the day it was discovered drifting at sea.

After more than a year dry docked in Townsville, the Kaz II hasn't revealed the fate of its crew – this `ghost ship' is the silent witness to a tale that may never be told.

Kaz II's three Western Australian masters sailed out of Airlie Beach on April 15 last year for the trip of a lifetime.

The shipmates – Captain Des Batten, 56, Peter Tunstead, 69, and his brother Jim, 63 – planned to spend six weeks sailing around the top end of the country before returning to their WA home.

But that's where the certainty ends.

The 9.8m catamaran was found drifting and empty on the fourth day of their trip, about 160km north-east of Townsville.

Its motor was still running, the GPS system still monitoring the boat's erratic movements, yet there was no crew.

What happened to the trio will be determined during a week-long coronial inquest to be held in Townsville from August 4.

State Coroner Michael Barnes will examine where and how the men went overboard, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, whether they are dead and whether the search for the missing men was adequate.

It's expected more than 30 witnesses, including family members of the missing men, will give evidence.

Jim Tunstead's son Shane doesn't associate North Queensland as a place with happy memories.

He will return to Townsville for the first time since he spent thousands of dollars and weeks painstakingly searching the Whitsundays islands for his missing father.

Mr Tunstead will accompany his mother, brother and two sisters for the coronial inquest.

"Hopefully it will bring some kind of closure," he said.

"It's bringing back a lot of emotions, but as they say `time's the healer of all wounds'.

"I don't know what they're going to find."

Mr Tunstead said only days in to the search he knew his dad was gone forever.

"The hardest part was doing the search because on one hand we were hoping to find something but on the other hand we were hoping we didn't," he said.

"There's been a fair few wild and wonderful theories going around.

"It's unusual that three of them going missing at once, maybe if one or two but not three.

"But I think some sort of accident happened.

"I think it will be put down to a tragic accident."

Mr Tunstead said he hoped the inquest would bring closure for his mother Marg, who lost her husband of 45 years.

"Mum's a lot better but I wouldn't say she's back to normal, she still struggles," he said.

"It seems like she's healing."

The family said their goodbyes to their beloved family member on the year anniversary of his disappearance.

"Most of our immediate family were in Airlie for about a week in April for the year anniversary," he said.

"We hired a big launch and we took her out towards George Point and showed what the terrain and water was like.

"On the day we think they went missing, the 15th April, we went to the last place they were seen and had a beer for them."

Rescuer Corrie Benson was the first person to board the Kaz II while it bobbed abandoned at sea.

He was lowered from the Emergency Management Queensland chopper in to the water and swam towards the catamaran.

He still vividly remembers the uneasy feeling that overcame him as he stepped on to the deck.

"I haven't forgotten the definite eerie feeling of the unknown," he said.

"I had no idea what to expect as I was going down in to the cabin, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head as to what I was going to find.

"To find no trace of anyone was the last thing I expected."

Mr Benson can still clearly picture the men's personal belongings throughout the boat's cabin.

"When I actually got on the boat there was a fishing line out the rear and I got a bit tangled in that before I got on board," he said.

"I noticed that I thought the engine was still going and grabbed the keys out of the ignition and threw them on the floor.

"I saw the door was open so I went down slowly not knowing what to expect.

"Sitting on the table undisturbed were wallets, a video camera, a digital camera, computers and a Sunday paper."

The deck was much the same.

"There were clothes, towels and reading glasses on the back deck of the boat," he said.

"There was a coffee cup sitting on the floor that was half full.

"If a freak wave or something had washed people overboard it would have taken the clothes and the mug as well."

Even those not directly associated with the missing men are curious about the mystery.

"I've been approached by heaps of people in the street who want to know what happened and to try and cement their own theories," Mr Benson said.

"People are trying to prove their own theory as to what may have or not happened."

The mysterious vanishing attracted world-wide attention.

As the story unfolded more questions arose than answers.

Piles of clothes and towels found on the deck suggested the men may have taken a dip, but with 20-25 knot winds, it seemed unlikely.

Another theory is that all three were washed overboard by a freak wave, but as Mr Benson pointed out, nothing had been `out of place' and the cabin was `neat'.

Another assumption is if one man was knocked overboard and the others went to his aid, why was all the boat's safety equipment on board? The vessel's life jackets, life preserver and dingy were untouched.

But with logical scenarios not quite adding up, there came speculation of foul play.

To this day some family members claim the men were victims of homicide, perhaps resulting from them witnessing something untoward.

But police forensic specialists rule out that possibility, having found nothing suggesting such an incident occurred.

Fueling further speculation was the boat's lowered fenders, suggesting another boat had docked beside it.

However, no evidence was found to support the theory.

Suggestions the men faked their disappearance was quickly shot down by family members and police alike.

Adding to the mystery was the late report of a routine position report via radio from the Kaz II by the Volunteer Marine Rescue at 6.45pm the day they set sail.

Police were not told about this radio message until the day after the air and sea search was called off.

The puzzle is this message was received hours after it was predicted the men were no longer on board the Kaz II.

This ghost ship is now docked on dry land at a Townsville boat yard in legal limbo.

It is jointly owned by Des and Jenny Batten, but until Des is declared officially dead it remains deserted.

For family members this inquest will serve as an ending to a living nightmare.

As each piece of the tangled web is unravelled, it is hoped a conclusion will be met.



La oficina de meteorología publicó sobre este caso que, durante el día que desaparecieron, el promedio del viento era de 20 nudos por hora, pero que dos horas antes de su última transmisión, a las 6:45 de la mañana, subió hasta los 46 nudos. A partir de ese momento las ráfagas comenzaron a disminuir y, acabó por volverse estable, a partir de las 13.

Family believe missing sailors kidnapped

April 24, 2007
Why would their clothes be piled up [and] if it was that bad that it would have knocked three experienced sailors off, why wouldn't they have put on their life-jackets?
One of the missing crew members�... James Tunstead.

One of the missing crew members... James Tunstead.
Photo: Ten News

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Relatives of the skipper of a mystery yacht found off the coast of north Queensland believe the three missing crew members might have been kidnapped.

Hope Himing, niece of Derek Batten, 56, said today there were many unusual circumstances surrounding the yacht, which was found adrift off the coast of Townsville last Wednesday, that suggest foul play.

Emergency service crews found the engine running, computers turned on, food on the table and the GPS system operating but no sign of the boat's crew.

"It just doesn't all add up," Ms Himing said today.

"If it was bad weather why would their fishing line be out?

'It just doesn't add up'

"Why would their clothes be piled up [and] if it was that bad that it would have knocked three experienced sailors off, why wouldn't they have put on their life-jackets?

"It just doesn't add up for us."

Ms Himing said her family dismissed police suggestions that her uncle - known to the family as "Des" - and his crew members - brothers Peter and James Tunstead, aged 69 and 63, all from Perth - were washed overboard in bad weather.

She said she strongly believed that the 9.8-metre catamaran, KAZ II, was boarded, and the trio might have been kidnapped.

"The fenders were out on their yacht, and the only reason you ever put them out is when another boat comes aside or if you come to rest against a wharf," she said.

"It looks like they've been boarded."

Ms Himing said she held grave fears for the trio's safety, but believed they were still alive.

She said the families would continue to search Airlie Beach and the surrounding islands until they had closure.

Spiritual contact

Ms Himing said she and her mother had both felt spiritual contact from Derek, whom they believed was still alive but fighting for his life.

"My mum and I are both Spiritualists. My mum's had a really strong feeling from Des that he's somewhere dark and he can't see and I don't feel that he's dead either,'' Ms Himing said.

"I don't think he's got a lot left in him but I actually don't think he's dead, and so everything we can do to get (people) out there looking again is a huge thing.''

Ms Himing said the families of all three crew members felt that authorities called off the search too quickly, and said James Tunstead's son, Shane Webber, had already told them he would continue his own search until he found something.

"The police have dropped interest very quickly and dropped the search ... we feel hugely let down about this,'' Ms Himing said.

"They've spent days longer looking for other people in situations like this, so why have they called this one off so quickly?''

Ms Himing said the lack of closure was the most painful part of the situation.

Not knowing

"The hardest thing for us now is waiting and not knowing,'' she said.

"You can deal with a bad accident (where) they've passed away because you know, but when you don't, and to have so many questions hanging over it... it's very difficult.''

Queensland police said in a statement last night they would continue to keep "a watchful eye'' for the three missing men.

"Despite the search being officially suspended, a Queensland Police Service aircraft will continue to monitor in an effort to locate the bodies of the missing three men,'' the statement said.

But police said medical advice was that the chances of survival would be "highly unlikely''.

AAP


waves, rogue waves, as well as wind generated waves in general.

The case of Yacht Kaz II

I blogged about the case of yacht Kaz II as part of a post entitled "Peril of yachting in the South Ocean" last year. Kaz II has been branded as a ghost ship ever since she was found on April 18, 2007 while drifting with engine running but no crew on board. TimesOnline reported a week later that pthe three men crew "were most like washed overboard in a violent squall or freak wave according to police" among other possible explanations.

Well, there was a "coronial' inquiry being conducted last week and this morning the Guardian reported the coroner's ruling. First a recap of the case:

The trio, described as "typical Aussie blokes", vanished after setting sail on April 15 last year on a planned two-month trip, bound for Western Australia where they all lived. Three days later, the white-painted vessel which Mr Batten had only recently bought for £60,000 was found adrift and with a ripped sail about 100 miles north-east of Townsville, near the Whitsunday islands.

The engine was idling, a half-empty cup of coffee and a laptop computer were sitting on a table, a newspaper was lying open with some pages strewn on the floor and clothing had been piled on a bench.

The men went to sea with a large supply of food, three cases of beer, a .44 calibre rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, the inquest was told.

Now the finding:

Coroner Michael Barnes said evidence put before him during a four day inquest led him to conclude that "an unfortunate series of events," befell the trio, who were all relatively inexperienced sailors, only a few hours after they set sail.

In the scenario he laid out, the coroner said one of the brothers attempted to free a fishing line that had become wrapped around the yacht's propeller when he fell overboard. The other brother fell in while trying to rescue him.

Mr Batten tried to drop the sails so he could turn around and go back for his two friends but a change in the wind's direction caused the yacht's boom to swing and knock him overboard.

"Once the three men were in the water there was very little chance they could get back on the boat," he said. "It would be beyond their reach in seconds. From that point, the end would have been swift.

"None of them was a good swimmer, the seas were choppy, they would have quickly become exhausted and sunk beneath the waves. Although I can't exclude the possibility of a shark attacking them, drowning is a far more likely cause of death."

which is a very plausible scenario. I am impressed. I guess an important piece of evidence which might not have made public before was shown to the court, in which the skipper, Des Batten, was holding the camera and
Jim Tunstead can be seen fishing while he and Mr Batten are heard mocking Peter Tunstead, a non-swimmer, who was sitting fishing at the back with the safety rail down. He was not wearing a lifejacket. In the film, the men talk about "threatening skies" ahead.
That seems to be a logical scene that led to the scenario the coroner concluded. They were not good swimmers and they did not bother to wear their lifejacket should also be an important lesson for everyone to learn here.

The seas were choppy, we can not preclude the possible occurrence of a freaque wave. But whether or not a freaque wave occurred, it will not alter in any way the scenario the coroner so brilliantly laid out.

They still have not been able to find their bodies. But at least their yacht, the Kaz II, is no longer a ghost boat.
posted by FreaqueWaves at 9:02 AM


Más datos

En el interior del yate encontraron un arma de fuego y numerosa munición, y también una grabación de video que mostraba imágenes de los tripulantes durante su viaje. Esta grabación, fechada el 15 de abril, sirvió para conocer los últimos días de travesía de los tripulantes. Por ella se sabe que James Tunstead era la persona que se encontraba grabando en aquellos momentos, mientras que su hermano Peter estaba pescando en la popa y Derek Batten se encontraba en la proa. La cámara efectúa un barrido de 360º grados mostrando las islas que se encontraban alrededor, lo que sirvió a las autoridades para tratar de ubicar la posición del catamarán. Los investigadores también pudieron comprobar que en aquél momento el mar se encontraba encrespado y ninguno de los tres hombres portaba el chaleco salvavidas.


La investigación

El 4 de Agosto de 2008 comenzó en los Juzgados de Tonwsville una investigación dirigida por el médico forense Michael Barnes, y se centró en averiguar si los hombres estaban muertos, cuáles fueron las causas de su desaparición y si las tareas de búsqueda y rescate fueron las suficientes. En total fueron llamados a declarar 27 testicos algunos de los cuáles habían visto al Kaz II en algún momento de su travesía. Las declaraciones de estas personas ayudaron a las autoridades australianas a trazar una línea de tiempo para poder reconstruir las últimas horas del fatídico barco.

Entre estos testigos se encontraba la esposa de Derek Batten, Jennifer, quien declaró que su marido era un marino con una experiencia de más de veinticinco años en el manejo de embarcaciones, aunque el Kaz II fue el primer velero que pilotaba. Su sentido de la seguridad le hizo realizar un curso de seis semanas de navegación en este tipo de barcos y después realizó con Jennifer varios viajes sin que tuvieran ningún problema. La señora Batten también declaró que su esposo se encontraba en buen estado de salud y consideraba que podía realizar aquél viaje.

Tuvo también que testificar Graeme Douglas, el anterior propietario del Kaz II que había vendido la embarcación a Derek. Afirmó que el barco estaba en buenas condiciones cuando fue vendido y que él ayudó a los tres hombres a preparar una parte de la ruta que iban a realizar, y se mostró sorprendido cuando las autoridades le explicaron que el Kaz II se había desviado de aquella ruta que se había programado en el GPS del yate.

El capitán Gavin Howland declaró que el día 16 de Abril mientras se encontraba faenando en su buque de pesca, él y su tripulación avistaron un yate de color blanco a unos cincuenta metros de su embarcación y pudieron observar que una de las velas se encontraba desgarrada y que aparentemente no había nadie a bordo. Aunque según su delcaración le pareció extraño, el capitán Howland no intentó ponerse en contacto con la embarcación ni alertar a las autoridades marítimas.

El sargente Paul Molloy fue uno de los tres oficiales de policía que se ocuparon de examinar la embarcación una vez remolcada hasta el puerto de Tonwsville. Según su declaración el yate fue examinado minuciosamente y no encontraron signos de lucha o de que se hubiera cometido un delito.

La hipótesis

En base a todas las declaraciones las autoridades concluyeron que la misteriosa desaparición de los tres hombres se había producido por un fatal accidente. La hipótesis era que alguno de los tres tripulantes había caído accidentalmente al mar. En un desesperado intento por salvarle sus dos amigos también se habrían lanzado en su rescate mientras el yate se alejaba de ellos. El cansancio, la falta de fuerzas y quizás el estado del mar provocó que estos murieran ahogados. Sin embargo es extraño que no se recuperará alguno de los cuerpos.

Lo cierto es que desde la última comunicación de radio emitida el 15 de abril no se sabe verdaderamente lo que les ocurrió a los tres tripulantes del Kaz II convirtiendo este suceso en uno de los más enigmáticos de los últmos tiempos.

Imágenes: Wikipedia
Informe Oficial de la Investigación

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