Missing yacht sails into Kerry port after week-long sea and air search

Mon, Sep 26, 2011, 01:00

THE YACHT Golden Eagleand its two-man crew sailed into Portmagee in south Kerry yesterday at 3.05pm, oblivious to the massive sea and air search that had taken place for it over the past week.

The search, which had been co-ordinated by the Valentia Coast Guard, had involved coast guards in Norway, where the vessel was headed, the UK and the US.

The alarm had been raised after it failed to show up as scheduled in Crookhaven in Cork on September 15th.

Alerts had gone out to all shipping over the past 10 days.

The Golden Eaglehad a shortwave radio but had no contact with any coast guard until it sailed up the Portmagee channel skirting Valentia Island.

At that time a local ferryman on his way to Valentia Island spotted the yacht and alerted the island’s Coast Guard.

For most of the 36-day voyage since leaving Bermuda, the yacht could not pick up anything on the radio. In recent days the crew managed to receive “strange languages” but most of the stations seemed to be talking about soccer, said skipper Francis Cooper.

Mr Cooper (62), a native of New Zealand, spent seven years sailing around the world between 1997 and 2003 and said at no time did he fear for his life. “Never, not for a moment. I’ve done this for many years,” he said, two hours after making port.

A hurricane had hit them in the higher latitudes and they were forced to lower their sails and lay low for “several days”, he said.

Norwegian Arvid Moe (70), owner of the vessel, was also in fine fettle.

The 32ft wooden yacht had been “nailed by two hurricanes” after it set out from Bermuda, Mr Cooper said.

The two men will spend some days in the south Kerry area before resuming their voyage to Bergen in Norway.

Their immediate plans last night were to sample the local Guinness, said Mr Cooper.