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4 August 2008, JellyBean @ 7:44 am

An inquest into the mysterious disappearance of the crew of the KAZ II catamaran began in Townsville, Queensland, headed by Queensland state coroner Michael Barnes.

The KAZ II mystery which was reported earlier here on Level Beyond, is one of the strangest cases of crew disappearances in Australian maritime history and is being compared to the mystery of the Marie Celeste.

The inquest heard that the three men Derek “Des” Batten, 56, Peter Tunstead, 69, and Jim Tunstead, 63, had been well prepared for their trip. The planning for the trip had begun 10 weeks prior and underwent training in the lead-up to the voyage.


They also heard that Des Batten had more than 25 years experience with boats and had been a volunteer with Fremantle Sea Rescue for a year and a half. He was well-versed in safety procedures and regulations.

The trio had planned to sail by day,rest at night and had promised not to take any risks on the eight week voyage. At the time of the voyage, all three men were in good health.

Jenny Batten told the inquest that the boat which she had purchased with her husband was an easy one to handle. “I do not believe he would panic he was so safety conscious,” she continued.

The family were critical of the authorities which called off the search after 10 days, following the advice of a “survival expert”. The search involved 10 aircraft and numerous boats.

“I felt they stopped too soon,” Jim Tunstead’s daughter Keryn Mackenzie-Grae said.

The families launched their own search after the official one closed down, but also found nothing.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Julie Wilson told the court it might not be possible to determine the men’s fate.

“It may be that exactly what happened to these men will remain unknown,” she said.

The inquest is continuing and Level Beyond will try to bring you regular updates.

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