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Jul 4, 2013 12:04 AM by Erin Steuber

Father Confident Daughter, Crew Safe in South Pacific

For the first time, we're hearing from the father of a UL student missing at sea thousands of miles away. 19- year-old Danielle Wright is among seven people, missing onboard a small boat in the South Pacific.

She and the others left New Zealand at the end of May headed for Australia. It's a 12,000 mile trip that should've taken 12 days, but at the beginning of June, the group sailed into bad weather and they haven't been heard from since. Despite that, Danielle's family is holding out hope.

Danielle's father, Ricky Wright, tells us he thinks the group had to detour around bad weather and that they're now travelling against the currents, slowly making their way to Australia.

"She's like a fish in the water," said Ricky.

From a young age, Danielle has always loved being in the water. She's a trained scuba diver and an experienced sailor. The family would often hit the high seas.

"We lived on a sailboat for 14 months. Then a couple of years ago, we took a sabattical and sailed in the Carribean," said Ricky.

The sailing trip from New Zealand to Australia is the trip of a lifetime for Danielle. On board the famed schooner Nina, with family friend David Dyche and his family.

Dyche is a veteran sailor, and took a trip across the Atlantic in 1992. But this latest adventure, he and the crew ran into rough weather on June 4th and that's when the ship sent a text message. A crew member named Evi sent the message to a New Zealand meteorologist reporting 60 mile per hour winds and 18-foot waves. The meteorologist told them to head south and brace for a storm. The very next day he received a second text message. It's that text message which gives Ricky Wright, and his family, hope.

But as the Dyche family, who owns the Nina, says, "The Nina always comes back to port."

"She knows how to sail and work the rigging. She's a good first mate. She's always been my first mate when we've gone on sailing vacations," said Ricky.

The Australian Coast Guard has been searching the waters between New Zealand and Australia, but still no sign of the Nina. Those search efforts stopped Wednesday because of more bad weather, but are expected to resume.


» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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