Fears grow for missing Transatlantic sailor in his 60s as his yacht is found drifting with nobody on board
- ‘The Minke’ boat was found drifting off the Irish coast with nobody on board
- Captain Duncan Lougee set off alone from Plymouth, Devon twelve days ago
- It was due to arrive in Baltimore, Ireland on June 22 but has not been in contact
Fears for a Transatlantic sailor in his 60s are growing after his yacht was found drifting off the Irish coast with nobody on board.
The 25ft long boat, called ‘The Minke’ had not been seen or heard from since it set out to sail 300 miles across the Irish Sea from Plymouth, Devon 12 days ago with Captain Duncan Lougee at the helm.
HM Coastguard says the skipper, described as being in his late 60s, was taking part in the single-handed Jester Challenge, with a plan to sail the route via the Isles of Scilly.
The other 43 vessels taking part in the challenge have arrived safely, and the Coastguard are seeking any information from the public about the disappearance.
But last night, it was spotted drifting in the sea, and when rescue teams climbed aboard, they found nobody onboard.
Searches are set to continue in the area.
Duncan Lougee, from Dedham in Essex, is an experienced sailor having navigated the Atlantic three times solo, from Plymouth to Azores and back
The yacht was spotted drifting in the sea, and when rescue teams climbed aboard, they found nobody on board
There had previously been fears that the yacht had drifted into shipping lanes and had been hit in darkness by a cargo ship, which had not realised and carried on. But those fears were dispelled after the yacht was found undamaged.
The Irish Coast Guard confirmed Mr Lougee was not found onboard during their search.
Mr Lougee, from Dedham in Essex, is an experienced sailor having navigated the Atlantic three times solo, from Plymouth to Azores and back.
The yacht broker and boat builder has made the same trip from Devon to Baltimore, in County Cork, before.
In 2010 he took part in the Jester Challenge sailing single handedly from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island in his Rustler 31.
Coastguards issued a fresh appeal earlier this week in a bid to find Mr Lougee.
‘The Minke is a 25ft fibreglass folkboat with a white hull and white sails. Her sail number is FB597’, they said.
‘The skipper was taking part in the single-handed Jester Challenge with a plan to sail the route via the Isles of Scilly. All other vessels are accounted for.
Fears that the yacht had drifted into shipping lanes and had been hit in darkness by a cargo ship were dispelled when it was found undamaged
‘HM Coastguard has issued regular broadcasts and liaised with the Irish Coastguard, UK police and the RNLI.’
In a post on social media last weekend, a spokesperson for the Jester Challenge said: ‘Despite the best efforts of Falmouth MCA and the Irish Coastguard, including a fixed wing search of the area between the Scillies and Baltimore, Minke’s whereabouts are still unknown.
‘Everyone involved in the search for Duncan and Minke is perplexed by the absence of any sign of her position.’
‘Hope has not yet been lost that after some major setback, Duncan is still trying to reach a safe haven.
‘This is a particularly difficult time for Duncan’s partner Louise, who is showing great fortitude during the wait for some firm news and the thoughts of all the Jester Challengers, past and present, are with her.’