Vanished: Was the crew of the Kaz II abducted?

Posted by Xavier Ortega | September 24, 2011 17

The sea. Man’s nightmares and curiosities lie within its seemingly eternal abyss. Countless tales and explorations revolve around its mystery. None can capture the great vastness that inhabits the world’s oceans. It leaves the curious to wonder:What monstrous beasts lurk through the depths of the abyss?


  The sea was a bit choppy that afternoon on April 20, 2007. But that didn’t pose a problem for the experienced three-man crew of the Kaz II. Derek Batten was a fifty-six year old yachtsman with 25 years of nautical experience. He had meticulously planned out the route in which his yacht, the Kaz II, was supposed to navigate. He had invited with him his neighbors. Sixty-nine year old Peter Tunstead and his sixty-three year old brother, James. They too were no strangers to the sea. They had been sailing together since teenagers and were very savvy when it came to boat navigation and safety. The brothers also volunteered in the radio rooms of the Volunteer Sea Rescue unit. Suffice to say the Kaz II was no ship of fools.

When police boarded the Kaz II on the evening of April 20th, off the northern Australian coast, they felt as if they had stepped into the Twilight Zone. The Kaz, it was completely soulless! The experienced navigator had left the engines running and was nowhere to be found. And the brothers? Besides  finding James’ sunglasses and shirt, there was no sign of them either. Something was off. As the police investigate the boat for any signs of the men, they find that whatever grim fate the men met, it caught them off-guard. A plate of food was set on the table, a laptop was left turned on and of course, the engines were still on.  Gut feelings told the police that there was no foul play and it seemed to them that the men simply vanished. There were no signs that a rogue wave might have washed the men off the yacht. They did notice something important though. One of the sails was damaged. A big tear that ran vertically through the sail. Torn sail and running engines and missing crew? They might as well have stepped onto the decks of the infamous Mary Celeste.

During the forensic investigation, a video tape surfaced. Recorded on it, were the last moments of the three friends.

The video

The last moments of the men were recorded by James on the morning of April 15th. Which is said to be shortly before their vanishing. The video shows Derek commandeering the vessel. Peter is seen fishing off the Kaz II in a very relaxing manner. From the video, the investigators noted that the engines were not running and that a long rope was trailing behind the boat. Another interesting fact is that James’ sunglasses and shirt are not seen in the location where they were found.

With this information, the investigators were able to understand the approximate location the men were in when they ran into trouble. The coroner ruled out foul play, but was not able to determine what actually happened to the bodies. Piecing together a possible scenario using the video tape, this is what State Coroner Michael Barnes believed happened to those aboard the Kaz II:

“On Sunday, 15 April 2007, at 10:05 A.M., the Kaz II was sailing in the vicinity of George Point. Up to that moment everything was going as planned but, in the following hour, their situation changed dramatically. The men hauled in the white rope that was trailing behind the boat and bundled it up on the foredeck, possibly to dry, next to the locker it was normally kept in. For unknown reasons, James Tunstead then took off his T-shirt and glasses and placed them on the backseat. The report says that since the men’s fishing lure was found entangled in the ship’s port side rudder, an obvious explanation would be that one of them tried to free the lure and fell overboard while doing so. Standing on the boat’s ‘sugar scoop’ platform (a platform at the back of the ship close to the waterline) while the boat is moving is perilous and falling in the water is easy, but getting back aboard almost impossible. One of the other men then came to the rescue of his friend, while Batten, still on board, started the motor and realized he had to drop the sails before he could go back for his friends.

As he left the helm to drop the sails, a deviation of the ship’s course or wind direction could have easily caused a jibe, swinging the boom across the deck and knocking Batten overboard. This could even have happened before Batten was able to untie and throw out the life ring to his friends. A blue coffee mug found near the life ring may support this. Since the boat was travelling before wind and at a speed of 15 kn (28 km/h), it would be out of reach of the men within seconds. The report states: “From that point, the end would have been swift. None of them was a good swimmer, the seas were choppy; the men would have quickly become exhausted and sunk beneath the waves.

–source: Wikipedia



The coroner’s conclusion seems like the most possible scenario. Possible…but it leaves a lot of doubt as well.

What are the chances that three experienced and cautious seamen fall out of a boat trying to save one another? I can understand the brothers falling overboard in an attempt to rescue one another, but why did the Derek, the man at the helm leave the engines on while he himself succumbing to the merciless sea in the last attempt to rescue his friends? How does that explain the torn sail? Could it have been that one of the brothers was climbing to fix the top of the sail and fell overboard, causing the other two to fall in as well in unsuccessful attempts at rescue? Maybe. But then I’d have to ask you: “What tore a gash across the sail?

If you were to ask me, the other-worldly thinker, I’d say that there exists a speck of a chance that this could have been caused by a UFO. Seriously. Hear me out:

What if the men were visited by a UFO, or better yet, a USO –Unidentified Submerged Objects, to the non-geeks– could that possibly explain the men being caught off-guard by the alien craft that glided its way from the abyss? Hovering above their yacht, the craft’s exhaust or radiating force causes the sail to blow open. But what about the men? Abducted. Naw, that’s too wild of a conclusion. Isn’t it?

The fate of the men will never been known. What interrupted the person sitting down to eat a warm meal on the boat’s table is the macabre mystery of the Kaz II. Looking as a place where time stood still, the yacht leaves us with the impression that they men met a scientifically impossible fate. The crew of the Kaz II seem to have completely vanished from this world.

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Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released fall of 2016. Got a question? Drop me a line.

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17 Responses

  • Joe the Waiter

    Coroners conclusion seems the most plausible explanation to me. Before we get into ‘what are the chances?’ let’s just consider what were the chances of Aaron Ralston getting pinned by that rock?. Those guys died in the water IMO and abduction by USO is possible but not probable.

  • Ramon

    I agree with Joe on this one. I am a little bit of a sailing enthusiast and i can confirm that in a string of events things can get pretty nasty. And knowing that they where not the youngest and “flexible” anymore, they can easily fall overboard and drown..

  • jw.clancy

    wrong, they got it wrong. they fucked up. No one listened to us, At the time i was a professional fisherman and our whole crew seen this boat the night before. They were going through a a mad ass channel at LINE reef IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! This is just crazy, they went nowhere for hours as the tide absolutely rips through this channel more or less none stop unless the tide is about to change.
    A couple of hours later the boat started to go back to where it came from, IE, it had turned around, then it just sort of drifted off into the night.
    We were laughing our heads off at these idiots for trying to do this.
    The courts didn’t have a bar off what we were trying to tell them, they just would not listen to us, nor would the AFP.. Apparently there gps said they were never their, cause electronics never lie, do they?
    In our conclusion when they had tried to turn around they underestimated how much run there was and how quick their boat was going to turn around and they all lost their footing and fell straight into the piss. This place is full of bronze whaler sharks. They would have been dead within minutes. And the sail was simply ripped apart by the shear force of the boat turning around in this rip roaring channel.
    that is the simple and only explanation. and before you say im full of shit, i have watched people fall out of there boat in this channel and by the time their able to get their heads back up above water, they are at least 50 metres from where they fell in. i hope the family reads this and finally realises that we did know exactly what happened to them.
    USO’s? i seen plenty of them, but just so you know, they are usually just little balls of bright blue light that go in and out of the water at very high speed and don’t even make a splash when they do this.
    I fished out there for 8 years and not once did i ever get abducted, probed or raped by this things.

  • terry the censor

    This article is a low point for this otherwise fine blog.

  • Terry the censor,

    I beg to differ. I think that i’ve written worse.

  • keltic1

    Could the crew have staged their own disappearance? Bad marriage or overwhelming debt? It is not too uncommon these days. But it would be highly unlikely that three individuals would be of like mind. Besides the Queensland police have ruled this out. What I find most unsettling is that the laptop was displaying the website “Ghost Theory” when it was found! LOL

  • lorraine curran

    I would really like to know,just as the families did, why the police refused to take fingerprints–that is the first thing you do-not the last or forgo altogether–who salvaged this ship-my dad was a mariner. this article was brilliant.

  • Brain cell

    I disagree that this article is a low point. I really enjoyed reading this mystery, until I got to the paragraph that begins with “If you were to ask me…” Then my eyes just rolled up into my head.


  • WolfLarsen

    The most plausible scenario is exactly what the inquest concluded (or some reasonable form thereof). Do experienced men and women sometimes do dumb things? Of course they do. All the time. When three men go sailing the highest likelihood is none will fall in the water. Even less likely is that one will fall in, be pulled aboard by their mates, and made fun of at dinner. And even less likely , one will fall in and another will fall in trying to rescue them, and the third will pull both aboard and make fun of both at dinner. And very, very unlikely one will fall in, another will fall in rescuing the first, and the third either will fall in trying to pull the first two in or fall in running to their rescue, or get hit with a boom and dumped overboard as he runs to their rescue, and the three will watch the boat sail away as they realize their mistake just killed them. The last scenario is a low probability one (of course it is, if it weren’t then the seas would be rife with drifting “Ghost Boats”) but it’s well withing the realm of possibility and is a much better explanation than a supernatural or super-earthly one. Why invoke silliness when a better explanation presents itself?



  • Disgusted

    Well I wonder how it feels to be the family member of one of these men and sit a read such crap. You must remember when you are writing about something that you have no idea about that a family member may read it…..What if it was your family on that boat????

  • Dan

    With all due respect, in the author’s defense, these 3 men disappeared….WITHOUT A TRACE. No bodies, no remains, no DNA. This was in spite of a very valiant and thorough search and rescue. At this point, it’s ALL ABOUT speculation.. so get off your high horse.
    Either these men faked their death and went into hiding, or something paranormal happened here. Scoff in ignorance all you want.

  • ghyui

    Your version of events is somewhat different to the reality,they were not experienced sailors at al,the coroner stated they were “in-experienced”
    Stop making stuff up to suit your nut-job theorys.

  • Chri

    The victims families all said they were experienced at sea, you dumbass.

  • Zeke

    Official story still doesn’t explain the torn sails, or many other things for that matter. Just goes to show how many close minded people just eat up shit someone else says just because it’s deemed an official conclusion

  • Chris

    I’m actually on board with the UFO theory.

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