Boaters encouraged to assist in rescue

Published on June 22nd, 2022

The US Coast Guard is searching for two 65-year olds who are reported overdue after failing to return from a sailing trip to the Azores, Portugal. Missing are Virginia Beach natives Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones.

Nikopoulos and Jones departed from Hampton, Virginia on June 8 for the Azores on their the 40 foot Endeavor Kyklades. However, they contacted Jones’ daughter on June 13 via an Iridium phone, reporting bad weather, a lost sail and mast, and they were headed back to Hampton.

The missing boaters were approximately 460 miles east of Virginia Beach at the time of the call, with no further communications being received. Jones’ daughter contacted the Coast Guard on June 17 to express her concern about not hearing from her mother.

“In situations like this, where there are so many unknowns, our coordination efforts need to cast a wide and intentional net,” said Coast Guard Chief Brian Gainey. “We’re tracking cell phone and radio pings as we work with our counterparts in Bermuda to accurately determine the most intelligent search area for our air crews. It’s a lot of detective work, but it’s all in service to finding these two individuals and bringing them home to their families.”

Nikopoulos and Jones were expected to return to Virginia around June 20, though no specific date had been set. While the Kyklades has a life raft, it did not have a registered EPIRB. Authorities encourage boaters off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and north of Bermuda to keep an eye out for signs of the missing sailboat.

Two overflights conducted by HC-130 Hercules crews from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City have been conducted of the approximate area of the missing boaters. Meteorologists say the North Atlantic is expected to remain clear of significant storm systems for several days, aiding in search and rescue efforts.

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