Heartbreaking: These parents cling to the hope 19-year old Danielle is alive

Danielle Wright





19-year old Danielle Wright is missing.

Her parents are desperate to find her.

So much so that they have moved half way across the world and spent more than half a million dollars searching for her.

So much so that her father is now taking flying lessons so he can scour the Pacific for his missing daughter.

Vivacious, smart, adventurous – Danielle Wright from Baton Rouge in the US, is an honor student studying psychology at the University of Louisanna.

It was to be the biggest adventure of her life – a coast-to-coast yachting adventure on board a historic schooner.

She had flown from the US to New Zealand and was setting sail from there to Newcastle on May 29 last year. Her parents had given her a surprise plane ticket for her birthday where she was to meet the crew.

The historic yacht, The Nina

She was adamant she was taking this trip alone, as a sign of her independence and adulthood.

She  to sail on the Nina, a  glorious 70-foot yacht with a crew of seven – six Americans and one British citizen.

On board:

  • David Dyche, the Captain, 58, from Florida
  • His 60-year-old wife Rosemary
  • Their 18-year-old son David Dyche
  • Matthew Wooton a 35 musician from the UK
  • Kyle Jackson, 27 from Nebraska who was highly trained in survival techniques.
  • Evi Nemeth, 73 Professor from Colorado
  • Danielle Wright, from Baton Rouge.

All are highly experienced in sailing and survival.

On the third day, the Nina hit the first of three storms, packing 60 knot winds and 10 metre high seas.

The search for the missing crew

The yacht then vanished.


“There’s a 20 per cent chance that they could’ve sunk, but if that boat is afloat they are alive,” her father, Ricky Wright told Channel 7.

Initially, with the Nina lost about 370 nautical miles west of New Zealand, authorities sent out a plane to comb the Tasman Sea.

On July 1 an undeliverable text message surfaced, sent by the crew after the storm.

It said their storm sails had shredded and they were now on bare boles drifting at four knots, at a nautical position of 310 degrees.

“That would’ve put them in a whole different weather pattern and drift pattern,” Ricky said.

Aerial searches still could not find the Nina and the authorities called off the search.

Robin is critical of the procedure, because the authorities waited for several weeks before beginning the search.

He told the Mail Online ‘We have also learned that the search aircraft is capable of detecting metal objects with their equipment, but not a wooden yacht like the Nina. The more we looked at the whole search procedure the more we believed that the Nina was still out there and had drifted away from the search area.’

This grainy satellite image showed what appeared to be the Nina

In September fresh hope came for the family – a new clue suggesting that the Nina was still in the Tasman Sea – a ghostly, grainy, satellite image of a yacht, spotted on September 15 by the Texas EquuSearch company, drifting some 184 nautical miles off the coast of Norfolk Island.

‘It’s blurry, but you can see that it’s the same shape as the Nina – when you compare that shape with engineering drawings of the Nina it leaves no doubt in my mind that this is the yacht,’ says Danielle’s Mum.


But by the time any kind of search could be launched, it was 10 days old. The object seen in the picture has not been found again nor properly identified.

Danielle’s parents, Ricky and Robin Wright have not given up home. They are now living in Port Macquarie in NSW searching every inch of coastline they can and pleading with local pilots to take up the hunt.

Both the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand and the US State Department are convinced there is no evidence the boat is still afloat.

Maritime experts believe the 85-year-old yacht suffered a catastrophic failure and sank immediately without trace.

Danielle’s family stay with a more optimistic point of view – they cling to the hope that the ship is stranded somewhere.

The crew on board the Nina
Source: Facebook

Her mum tearfully told the Mail Online ‘I live every day with a picture in my mind of Danielle and the others living in their own little community on some remote island, having learned how to fend for themselves, catching fish and living off rainwater and coconuts.

‘She’s tough, she’s smart – and none of the other crew members would have set out on that yacht for an adventure if they didn’t have that “get up and go” spirit about them. In time of trouble, they would all work together and get through it.’

The family has set up a Facebook page to aid with their search.