Nightly News   |  June 29, 2013

Family vanishes during round-the-world voyage

Officials fear a schooner carrying six Americans and a Briton on a voyage around the world sank three weeks ago somewhere off New Zealand. Despite a massive search that turned up nothing, some family members have a flicker of hope. NBC’s Sara James reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it was supposed to be a fabulous sailing adventure, the last trip together on the schooner before son david left for college. but on june 14th , somewhere in the waters between australia and new zealand , a powerful storm truck, and their boat "the nina " simply vanished. sarah james from australia.

>> reporter: a modern day odyssey. the family's around the world cruise began in 2008 , and their facebook photos show an idyllic voyage until three weeks ago when "the nina " and her crew disappeared somewhere near new sfwleeland.

>> it hasn't sunk in yet. i still have a fingertip grip on hope.

>> reporter: justin donovan's brother david and his mother, rosemary deitch are on board. stepdad david deitch is the captain. it set sail on may 29th . a retired professor radioed new zealand meteorology on treacherous weather. her text the next day was the last time anyone heard from the nina . a massive search turned up nothing. officials fear the boat sank.

>> we are not finding it on the search area and probably had a catastrophic event.

>> reporter: officials aren't ruling out survivors. the captain's mother got a call a week after the boat went missing that she thinks was her son.

>> i heard very heavy static and a voice that said carol and the static got so bad it cut off.

>> reporter: the captain's twin sister is not giving up hope for "the nina ."

>> she's always come back to port, maybe not always in one piece, but she's always come back to port.

>> reporter: two other americans missing, 28-year-old man and 18-year-old woman and matthew wooten of britain. such a committed environmentalist, he refused to fly. there is no sign the crew made it here to australia. lester.