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Missing Yacht Moquini - Search Called Off

26 September 2005

The search for the Missing yacht Moquini with six crew members on board has officially been called off.

This was announced in Durban this afternoon after the families of the missing crew members had met with search and rescue officials.

'It has been an exceptionally difficult decision to make' said Dave Claxton, Chairman of the race organising committee. 'It’s a decision that Matthew Thomas, Richard Crockett and I made in the cold light of day having rationally and unemotionally sifted through every single shred of information we had, and objectively analysed it. Plus, we have consulted experts far and wide to see if there is anything we may have missed, or any stone we have left unturned - with the answer always being that everything possible has been done up to this point.'

The families have been understanding, and have requested that the following statement be issued on their behalf:

'We, the families of the missing crew aboard MOQUINI have not given up hope of the crew being found, and would like to acknowledge the incredible and selfless effort the rescue team has put in to finding our husbands, sons, and brothers. We would like to express our appreciation to the media for their responsible and sympathetic reporting on this search and rescue mission, and to the public at large for the wonderfully generous support of the RNYC MOQUINI Rescue Fund, and for their care, sympathy and support. We have been astounded at the support from school children who have donated their lunch money, to the corporate giants of South Africa who have supported us. Words just cannot express our thanks and appreciation sufficiently. With all our hearts we thank you.'

The six crew aboard MOQUINI are:

Graham Cochrane
Neil Tocknell
Michael Goolam
Kurt Ostendorf
Sheldon Dickerson
Mark Dickerson

Dickerson, Ostendorf and Goolam all sailed the yacht from Durban to Mauritius for the race which started on Saturday 10 September off Grande Baie, Mauritius.

'While the search may have been called off, we the search and rescue committee, will monitor things on a daily basis, and should any shred of new evidence come to light that requires us to send aeroplanes out to an area for a search, we will do so' said Matthew Thomas.

MOQUINI was officially declared missing on Friday 16 September when a very brief signal from her EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was received indicating that she may be in some sort of distress. Complete communications had been lost with the yacht on Wednesday 14 September. It was not until the EPIRB signal was received was there any indication that they yacht may have been in any trouble.

Details of the missing yachtsmen:

Graham Cochrane (48)

Cochrane is the Chairman and founder of I Care, which through the LHC Foundation, is a non-profit charity organisation devoted to finding meaningful and sustainable solutions to the challenge of street children in South Africa, and has been sailing since he was a boy.

Graham is married to Denise, and they have two daughters Terry- Sue (19) and Kirsten (15).

Neil Tocknell (43)

Tocknell is an accountant, and currently involved in Fast yachts the company which built MOQUINI. He has been sailing for 34 years and has previously raced from Mauritius to Durban twice. He also has KZN Sailing Colours.

Neil is married to Karen, and has three children, Jenna (8); Sarah (4) and Ryan (1).

Kurt Ostendorf (42)

Kurt comes from a sailing family as his father was a naval architect, and has sailing in his blood. He has competed in numerous races along the East coast of South Africa, and assisted in delivering the yacht to Mauritius.

Kurt is married to Sandy, and has two children, Jolene (20) and Warren (16).
Sheldon Dickerson (29)

Sheldon is an ‘old hand’ having sailed most of his life, and holds a Yachtmaster and MCA certificates of competence in sailing. He has been involved with teaching children to sail through the I Care sailing development programme.

Mark Dickerson (45)

Mark is a Durban man - born and bred. Sailing is his life to the extent that he is building a 35-foot catamaran on which to go cruising. He holds a Yachtmaster certificate of Competence.

Mark is married to Sue, and has three daughters, Kate (19); Jodie (18) and Kari-Jo (13).

Michael Goolam (18)

Michael is part of the I-care sailing development programme whose express purpose it is to provide vocational skills for former street children as well as vital emotional skills like problem resolution. Michael is one of 12 youths from the Sakhithembaa Shelter in Amanzimtoti to have participated in the programme over the last year.

Posted by: John

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