Reg & Storme Robertson
Reg & Storme Robertson

The families of three South African yachtsmen who have been missing at sea for over two months are hopeful that their loved ones may be found following a surge in interest in the satellite crowdsourcing platform, Tomnod.

Reg & Storme Robertson
Reg & Storme Robertson

The surge was sparked by an object that was tagged by multiple members of the “Lost Catamaran & Crew at Sea” campaign on March 24, followed by two objects seen by a number of taggers on March 28, 2015.

Unfortunately, after further analysis of the first object by the Search and Rescue Authorities and Tomnod, it was deemed as possible debris.

However, the disappointed families claim there is still a lot of hope and they are not giving up. The objects seen on March 28, as well as an orange object tagged in the last few days, have been sent to Tomnod for urgent analysis.

Speaking exclusively to SAPeople from Bournemouth, Storme Robertson – daughter of missing crew member Reginald ‘Reg’ Robertson (60) – said “we are all struggling with this situation daily, which even now still sometimes feels quite surreal. It’s a nightmare that unfortunately we can never wake up from, but that doesn’t mean we will ever give up hope.

“No matter how tough things get or what he is going through, good or bad, my Dad always faces everything with a smile and that has always stuck with my brother and I.”

Storme’s brother Jared ( 31) also lives in the UK, in London.

“We are very close and talk often. He has been down to Bournemouth to spend some time with me and we skype with our Mom regularly as even though my parents are divorced, they have remained friends and only live five minutes drive apart in Durban,” she says. With no other family in the UK, Storme’s fiance Alex has also been a “massive” support.

Storme’s dad, together with skipper Anthony Murray (58) and crew member Jaryd Payne (20), left Cape Town harbour on December 14, 2014 on a Leopard 44 catamaran. They were headed for Phuket, Thailand…but the boat has not been heard from since a satellite call on 18 January.

The yacht was officially carrying enough supplies for 65 days and has now been at sea for more than three months.

“We are all struggling with this situation daily, which even now still sometimes feels quite surreal. It’s a nightmare that unfortunately we can never wake up from, but that doesn’t mean we will ever give up hope,” says Storme.

She revealed that she’s uncovered a strength within herself she never knew existed. “I just keep thinking of my Dad and how he would keep pushing through this, especially for the others. He always puts other people’s needs before is own and is willing to help however he can.”

Storme said another incredible source of strength and tenacity for her during this challenging time has come from the relationships she has built with the family members of the other missing crew.

“We talk with each other ever day and are always there to support one another, especially on the bad days when we really need to encourage each other to keep going. I could not do this without them.”

Storme also thanked the public for their “amazing support” through Tomnod and the Facebook page.

Over the past week, the number of taggers on the Tomnod campaign has risen to well over 30,000 and membership of the dedicated Facebook group Searching for Anthony, Reg & Jaryd has grown to over 3,300 members. In addition to the “nodders”, the global sailing community has upped its involvement in the search, with members encouraging yachts people and other maritime organisations to join.

Tomnod added more images to the campaign over the past weekend, drawn from a March 18th pass by its satellites over the Area of Interest. The more people who tag the images, the greater the chance of locating the catamaran and its crew.

When on the Tomnod website, people are asked to tag objects as either ship/boat, life raft or other in images. The crowd sourcing theory operates on the belief that untrained observers who pick the same target can be as accurate as an expert.

Anyone with access to a computer and the internet can join the online search party.

Previous Tomnod campaigns include the 2.3 million internet users who helped scan more than 24,000 sq km of sea to search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The families have been informed that Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has approached Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) Cape Town to assume coordination for the incident at the beginning of April.

The three families are urging all South Africans and people around the world to join the online ‘Lost Catamaran & Crew At Sea’ Tomnod search party.

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