Kaz II

Modern Mary Celeste Mystery Off Australian Coast

By James Donahue

The yacht Kaz II was found in April, 2008, drifting off the north Queensland coast with nobody aboard. The owner and his two passengers were nowhere to be seen. The engine was still running but the gear was in neutral, the sails were set although one of them was damaged. The computers were running, there was food ready to be eaten on the table, and it looked as if the three men, Derek Batten, James Tunstead and his brother, Peter Tunstead, had no intension or reason for leaving the vessel.

The Kaz, a 36-foot catamaran, was in excellent operating condition. Three life jackets and the emergency beacon were still on board but the yacht's life boat was missing.

Authorities said the three men were from Western Australia. They were bringing the catamaran from Airlie Beach, where it had been purchased, back to Western Australia when they disappeared.

An extensive air and sea search was conducted, but no trace of the men or the missing life boat were found. After two days the search was called off.

One officer who inspected the vessel said: "There was a laptop computer on board and running with power, the computers on board were running, all of their clothing was still there. The table was actually set for a meal with food and cutlery in place. The radio was working, the GPS was working and things below deck were normal except for the absence of crew."

The GPS was analyzed in an attempt to track the boat's passage over the time it was at sea, to assist in the search. It did not help. They said the vessel had been drifting since the evening of April 15, only a few hours after it left port at Airlie Beach. Forensic investigation found no clues on the boat as to what happened.

Relatives of the skipper, identified as Derek Batten, said they had been in "spiritual" contact with him and believed he was still alive, but had been kidnapped and was in "someplace dark."

They said all three men were experienced sailors so theories that they were all accidentally knocked overboard, or were swept overboard in heavy seas, didn't add up because they would have been wearing their life jackets.

The Mary Celeste was an abandoned "ghost ship" found off the coast of Portugal in 1872. None of the Mary Celeste's crew or passengers were ever found.


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