Rescue operation called off for Bribie Island couple after boat sinks in stormy seas off African coast

The search for an Australian couple on a five-year sailing voyage across the world's oceans has been called off with no recovery being made.

Del and Craig McEwan sent out a distress call on Monday from their Australian-registered catamaran, Ohana-Uli, west of the Seychelles.

The area is located more than 3,000km outside Australia's search and rescue region, according to the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA). 

An AMSA spokeswoman told the Courier Mail it was 'well outside the range of Australian response assets' and 'all attempts made by the Australian authority to alert Tanzanian rescue teams to the incident were unsuccessful'.

Nearby Seychelles authorities have assumed formal responsibility for a rescue attempt, the spokeswoman said.

'As the beacon was registered to an Australian catamaran, AMSA was made aware of its activation. AMSA identified and contacted the closest and only available merchant ship, the tanker Atlantic Lily, (which) diverted to the location,' she said.

'AMSA understands that upon arrival on scene the next morning (by the Atlantic Lily) the ship’s crew encountered extremely challenging conditions, including rough seas and strong winds in darkness and that attempts to recover survivors were unsuccessful.'

The failed attempt has prompted an outpouring of emotional posts from family and friends online, including friend Sarah Degen:

To our dear friends and family,

It is with a heavy heart that after every effort possible has been made we need to inform you that the search for Del and Craig McEwan has been called off with no recovery being made.

We would like to thank you all for your prayers and support throughout this difficult times.

They are now dancing with the waves, moving with the sea, letting the rhythm of the water set their souls free into the arms of our Saviour.

We are holding a celebration of life next Saturday 1st August 2pm at the Jacobs Well boat ramp 4208/2 esplanade Jacobs Well we would like to extend an open invitation to all of mum and Craig’s friends and family who wish to join us.

Bring a drink let’s raise a glass to their final bon voyage! Please wear bright colours.

The couple, who were experienced sailors, were together for six years before their disappearance.


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