SYDNEY (April 20) - Australian rescuers were on Friday trying to solve the "Mary Celeste" style mystery of a yacht found floating off the coast with its engine running, food on its table ready to eat, but no crew.
The 36-foot catamaran was found 80 nautical miles off Townsville on the northeast coast, but there was no sign of the three crewmen who had set sail from Queensland state bound for Australia's west coast on Sunday.
"What they found was a bit strange in that everything was normal, there was just no sign of the crew," Jon Hall from emergency management in Queensland told local radio on Friday.
Hall said the yacht's sails were up but one was badly shredded. He said the engine was running, there was food on the table, a laptop was turned on, and the radio and global positioning satellite (GPS) were working.
Three life jackets and survival equipment, including an emergency beacon, were found on board, but no life rafts.
The Mary Celeste was an abandoned "ghost ship" found off the coast of Portugal in 1872. None of the Mary Celeste's crew or passengers were ever found.
The KAZ 11 was spotted adrift on the outer Great Barrier Reef on Wednesday. Rescue crews boarded the vessel on Friday but there was no sign of the three crew men, aged 56, 63 and 69.
'No Sign of Them'
Police said weather conditions at sea on Sunday and Monday were rough. "There was a fair sort of a wind out there but it's improved since then, so who knows what could've happened," said Police Chief Superintendent Roy Wall,.
Rescuers have retrieved the boat's GPS system to analyze data for clues to the mysterious disappearance of the crew.
"That will now enable us to track backwards where this yacht has actually been in the last few days, and we're hoping that can pinpoint the search area for the missing crew," said Hall.