Brunswick Heads locals Ashley Virgo, left, and Colin James, survey the condition of the Scotch Bonnet washed up on Brunswick Heads Main Beach, believed to be an abandoned yacht from New Zealand. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Brunswick Heads locals Ashley Virgo, left, and Colin James, survey the condition of the Scotch Bonnet washed up on Brunswick Heads Main Beach, believed to be an abandoned yacht from New Zealand. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

Kiwi 'ghost ship' drifts ashore

A "GHOST ship" mysteriously appeared on Brunswick Heads Main Beach Thursday morning after a long and rough voyage - without a crew - across the Tasman Sea.

The 10m yacht, named the Scotch Bonnet, has certainly captured the imagination of many local residents.

Brunswick locals Ashley Virgo and Colin Jones were two of the first on the beach and, after a quick investigation of the yacht, they got straight into the business of discussing salvage rights.

"Nobody seems to want her," Mr Virgo said.

"We reckon that we might be able to salvage her, fix her up a bit.

"We came down (on Wednesday night) and saw her coming in.

"It was really eerie; it was like a ghost ship."

The Scotch Bonnet does have an interesting history.

It was last seen in December 2011, when the cruise ship the Sun Princess came across the stricken yacht in the middle of the Tasman Sea.

The ship had more than 2000 passengers on board at the time, but was forced to stop, turn around and dispatch a rescue crew to the dismasted yacht.

Crewmen quickly established that no-one was on board and secured the vessel away from the ship.

The Scotch Bonnet had reportedly been sailing from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand to Sydney.

But it is believed the crew of the yacht had to abandon it in October last year after it became dismasted in rough weather.

The yacht's owner was told about the vessell washing up at Brunswick Heads after it appeared on Wednesday night. However, it was understood the owner was currently overseas.

Water police from Coffs Harbour will on Friday inspect the vessel.

Tweed/Byron Local Area Command duty officer, Inspector Alan McKittrick, said the yacht washed up on Wednesday night, about 1km south of the Brunswick River bar.

"It has a damaged mast and hull damage," he said.

"Members of the surf club checked around, but there was no-one on board.

"The issue now will be with regards to salvaging the vessel."

Brunswick Surf Life Saving Club president, Craig Reid, said he was called to the scene about 6.15pm on Wednesday but there was little that could be done.

"We were very concerned at first because we thought there might have been people on board," he said.

"But now are just interested in getting it off the beach, because it is a safety issue."


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