The overturned hull of sailing yacht CHEEKI RAFIKI was discovered about 1,000 miles east of the U.S. northeast coast. The location matches the location of the last beacon transmission from CHEEKI RAFIKI. With 15-foot seas and winds of over 50 knots, the Good Samaritan ship M/V MAERSK KURE was not able to get close enough to confirm the hull as that of CHEEKI RAFIKI. The container ship remained in the area until Sunday night in hope of finding survivors.
An alert was triggered by the activation of two EPIRBs and word that CHEEKI RAFIKI was taking on water in foul weather. The search by U.S. and Canadian assets for the yacht continued until 5:00 a.m., May 19, covering over 4,000 square miles by sea and by air, in hopes that the crew had found safety in their life raft. The search was called off because it had more than twice surpassed the 20 hours that survival models indicated for such weather conditions.
CHEEKI RAFIKI, a Beneteau 40.7, was en route to the U.K. from the Caribbean at the time of her distress. Her crew are said to be Paul Goslin, 56; Steve Warren, 52; James Male, 23; and Andrew Bridge, 21, all experienced sailors from the south of England.