Final SMS: Sails ‘shredded’ on missing American schooner

This undated photo provided by the St. Andrews Historic Seaport and Commercial Marina in Panama City, Fla. shows American David Dyche, skipper of the 70-foot vessel Nina.

The final text message from the crew of an American schooner, missing for more than a month off the coast of New Zealand, said the vessel's sails were “shredded,” officials said Thursday.

“Storm sails shredded last night, now bare poles,” one of the crew wrote in an SMS at 11:50pm (7:50am ET) on June 6, adding that the vessel's new course would be sent in another message the following day.

But that update never arrived, Nigel Clifford, a manager at Maritime New Zealand, the country's rescue agency, said in a statement.

No further messages were received from on board the 70-foot Nina, he added. 

Clifford said that, as concern for the craft grew, his team had monitored all the transmissions from Nina’s satellite phone, from June 4, when the craft vanished 370 miles west-north west of Cape Reinga.

A storm was reported near the vessel's last known location on the day the Nina vanished. It featured “very rough conditions” with winds gusting up to 70 mph and 26-foot waves.

"The text message gives a clearer indication of the condition of the vessel,” Clifford said.

Nina left the Bay of Islands area of northern New Zealand on May 29 intending to sail to Newcastle, Australia

They were named as David Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; their son David, 17; and Evi Nemreth, 73, of Boulder, Colo., a maritime technology expert and retired University of Colorado professor.

University of Nebraska student, Kyle Jackson, 27 is also believed to be on board, along with an 18-year-old American woman and a 35-year-old British man.

David and Rosemary’s son told NBC affiliate WJHG that the family was still trying to “hold on to hope.”

"I think to myself how could this happen in this day and age,” he said July 1.

This picture taken in January 2012 shows the 70-foot vintage wooden yacht, Nina, built in 1928, sailing during the 2012 Tall Ships and Classic Yacht regatta day off New Zealand. Stephen Western / AFP - Getty Images, file

“And I just, I can't come up with the answers. And there are so many variables, so many what-ifs, so many what could have gone wrongs."

He added: "We're still trying to hold on to hope. With each passing day, it gets harder. I have to be realistic to think that she (Nina) is gone."

Although Maritime New Zealand has already conducted the biggest-ever search of the waters around New Zealand, covering more than 500,000 square nautical miles Clifford said crews conducted a radar search of more than 97,000 nautical square miles on Thursday.

Clifford said the information gathered from the text message was considered by search teams but even still, they did not find the vessel.

“The text message gives a clearer indication of the condition of the vessel on 4 June, and the weather that was being experienced at the time,” said Clifford, but, “very poor weather continued in the area for many hours and has been followed by other storms. The text message, in isolation, does not indicate what might have happened subsequently.”

7 sailors vanish at sea while sailing from New Zealand to Australia

6 Americans, 1 Briton vanish at sea while sailing from New Zealand to Australia