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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 6) – An Australian fishing boat operator has told of his crew’s 18-day ordeal drifting at sea off the Solomon Islands as searchers combed a different area of the ocean.

Wolfgang Meiners, 62, and five of his crew motored back into the capital Honiara on their vessel Ability in the early hours of Tuesday morning after their long drift without engine power.

Five other crew members who left the Ability in a fibreglass boat soon after its breakdown made it to land after four days of paddling.

A sixth man was found safe on the weekend after leaving the Ability in a dugout canoe.

The boat was first reported missing on April 13 off the island of Santa Isabel, prompting air and sea searches which included a French naval aircraft from New Caledonia and an RAAF P-3 Orion from Edinburgh in South Australia.

May 9, 2005

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