Maritime officials probed apparent discrepancies Tuesday in the story of four seamen who said they spent 120 days adrift on the hull of a yacht that capsized off the New Zealand coast.
Authorities specifically want to know how radio messages identifying the trimaran Rose-Noelle's position were received up to four days after the crew members say their three-hulled yacht foundered in a storm. The messages placed the vessel 600 miles from where the crew says their boat capsized."It may turn out to be one of those remarkable things, but we will review the entire operation," a spokesman for Minister of Transport Bill Jeffries was quoted as telling the Sydney Daily Mirror.
John Glennie, the captain and owner of the vessel, Tuesday attacked skeptics who challenged his tale of shipwreck and survival on the high seas.
"Those cynics who say our story is a hoax simply don't know what they are talking about," said Glennie, 48, who stood by his account of how he and his three-man crew survived on fish, cereal and apples for 120 days before their overturned vessel washed ashore on New Zealand's Great Barrier Island. "The charts don't show currents pushing the way we went, but the wind was enough to overcome the ocean currents, which are pretty weak in that area," Glennie said.
Glennie had planned to search the wreckage scattered along the rock-bound coast for his logbook, which he said would bear out his story. But he was forced to cancel the trip because his swollen legs could not carry him to a waiting helicopter.
Jeffries ordered an investigation to resolve the discrepancies in the yachtsmen's story.
Among the most puzzling discrepancies: radio messages relaying the yacht's position were received one and four days after June 4, the day the yachtsmen said their vessel capsized, and the messages indicate a 600-mile disrepancy between the yacht's last position and where the captain said it sank.
National Rescue and Safety Council search coordinator Terry Knight said he also wondered how the yacht could drift near shipping and aircraft lanes for four months without being seen.
He said the people who heard the messages were convinced the broadcasts were from the Rose-Noelle, but he conceded it was possible they came from another boat.
The four sailors, appearing surprisingly fit and well, said they washed up Saturday on Great Barrier Island, 56 miles northeast of Auckland, where after two nights of indecision they broke into a house and called the island's sole policeman.