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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Search for yachtsman missing off Yamba

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Part of the search area, off Yamba, viewed from the Westpac helicopter. Photo WHRS

An air and sea search is underway for 65-year-old solo yachtsmen Keith Jones, who is missing from his vessel, found at Yamba yesterday.

Yesterday Mr Jones’ 34-foot Manitou Ketch ‘Wayfarer’ was found washed up on rocks at Yamba– having sailed a distance of some 550km south of its starting point.

Mr Jones left Hervey Bay Marina last Wednesday (February 14) and has not been seen or heard from since.

He was reported missing to Queensland Police on Monday, February 19, and an extensive search was conducted, without success.

Police from Marine Area Command initiated a search via the Australian maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) of waters off the North Coast involving two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft, again without success.

Marine vessels were not able to be deployed due to dangerous conditions, and the air search was suspended following an AMSA’s search.

The Marine Area Command are continuing to investigate with assistance from Queensland Water Police.

Police are calling for information in relation to any public sightings of the yacht “Wayfarer” between Tweed Heads and Illuka, on Monday 19 or Tuesday 20 February 2018, please call crime stoppers in 1800 333 000.

Police say Mr Jones’ behaviour, in not alerting anyone to his travel plans, was out of character.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked by Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to conduct a search between Woody Head north of Yamba through to Angourie south of Yamba.

Nothing was located by the helicopter crew.

NSW Water Police are investigating the last known location of the sailor from the yacht.

The helicopter crew then dispatched a self-locating datum marker buoy which is designed to measure surface ocean currents. It will emit a signal every 30 minutes to allow search authorities to plot the potential search area for both Marine Rescue vessels and aircraft.

The yacht has been towed into Yamba harbour.


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