Debris link ruled out in yacht hunt

This Is Wiltshire: Albert Davey with a picture of the missing sailors, including his nephew Albert Davey with a picture of the missing sailors, including his nephew

‘PEAKS and troughs’ is the way Albert Davey has described the past 72 hours, waiting for news from the US Coast Guard on whether his lost nephew Steve Warren has been found.

At first light yesterday there were the first positive signs in days that search teams were closing in on the missing 40ft yacht Cheeki Rafiki, when debris was sighted by a volunteer vessel.

However, any hope Albert, 76, of Longleaze in Royal Wootton Bassett, and his family had was dashed when Captain Anthony Popiel, First Coast Guard District Chief of Response, rubbished any link with the yacht.

He said: “During searches at sea, it is not uncommon to find debris or discarded objects. Locating smaller items in the ocean is actually an indicator of favourable seas and search conditions.

“Our search assets have found a variety of debris and trash during their searches. The key part is correlating these objects to the search effort.

“We take reports of debris very seriously and, at this time, no debris or objects reported during this search correlate to the Cheeki Rafiki.

“This is still a very remote region of the Atlantic and our search planning is focused on directing the US and international military ships and aircraft we have deployed.

“We are also working directly with volunteer commercial ships in the area.”

Albert, a retired NHS worker who used to be based at the old Burderop Hospital near Wroughton, has been in Bridgwater, Somerset, this week to be closer to his wife’s family, who are facing the prospect of a future without Steve.

He is due back in Swindon today, where he hopes to hear more concrete news.

“Each time the phone goes we are hoping for some news,” he said. “When we got told [about the debris] we thought there was substance in that report.

“We did start the day on a very good foot. We felt it was identifying the area the boat was in.

“We are not underestimating the task in hand. We will take each hour by hour.”

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