Missing yacht: 'Light at the end of the tunnel' as debris found in Cheeki Rafiki search

Captain of a charter yacht taking part in the search said wood and plastic have been spotted in the Atlantic Ocean

Debris has reportedly been seen in the Atlantic Ocean, in the area where UK yacht the Cheeki Rafiki went missing with four British sailors on board.

Patrick Michel, the captain of a volunteer crew taking part in the search, said details of what was spotted were passed on to the US Coast Guard.

A spokeswoman for the US Coast Guard said: "I can confirm that we have received reports (of debris) from the sailing vessel Malisi. They have found some debris in the search area. We can't tell at this time if they are from the Cheeki Rafiki as there were no identifying marks on them.

"The debris was a plank of wood and a small piece of floating foam, but there was nothing identifying the Cheeki Rafiki. Obviously it is a possibility, and we are definitely treating it very seriously and incorporating that into our search, but I can't say for certain that it was from the Cheeki Rafiki."

The spokeswoman confirmed the debris was spotted in the search area outlined by the US Coast Guard, but could not say if it was in an area already searched.

Mr Michel told BBC Surrey: "We are currently just in the north part of the search area, our third night out here, and we did see during this night a few little (pieces of) debris which I have reported to the US Coast Guard with the times and positions, so there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel."

The experienced crew, aged between 22 and 56, were on the 40ft yacht when it capsized in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday.

The US coastguard called off search efforts involving ships, planes and helicopters on Sunday morning in severe weather, to the dismay of the men’s families.

Relatives of the four men Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham, Surrey and crew members James Male, 23, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater and Paul Goslin, from West Camel, 56 pleaded with the US Coast Guard to resume the search and remain convinced that their loved ones are alive.

The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki (left to right): Paul Goslin, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge Kay Coombes, the sister of Mr Warren, welcomed the reports that debris had been spotted.

She told BBC Breakfast: "I think they've got a bit more of a clue now so hopefully the coastguard can plot that and get the ships to that area, so fingers crossed they can start searching there."

She said the families of the missing sailors were still clinging on to hope, and thanked Mr Michel for taking the time to search and the coastguard for redoubling its effort.

"They are still out there, there's more resources being put into it, so we're still hopeful at this point," she said.

She added: "We have got to stay positive. We are still hopeful, we are clinging on to that. We are just keeping going. It is exhausting now, this has been going on for days. We are mentally exhausted, physically exhausted, I think we are running on coffee now rather than anything else, but we are still going, we are still there for him."

Ms Coombes said relatives of the missing sailors were meeting officials in London today.

Coastguards said 9,000 square miles had been searched by Wednesday and an RAF plane joined the search yesterday, alongside three planes and six ships.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor