A Virginia couple went missing while sailing to Portugal after they reported their boat had been damaged by rough seas.
The US Coast Guard said Tuesday that Virginia Beach retirees Yanny Nichopoulos and Dale Jones, 65, went missing after embarking on a 2,700-mile trip to the Azores.
The Coast Guard said Nikopoulos and Jones left Hampton, Virginia on June 8 in their 36-foot Kyklades sailboat and headed for the mid-Atlantic archipelago, located about 800 miles west of the Portuguese mainland.
The Coast Guard said that five days into their adventure, the couple told Jones’ daughter that their sailboat had been hit by bad weather and they were returning early to the Hamptons.
The two were about 460 miles east of Virginia Beach at the time of the call, officials said, but there were no further reports.
On Friday, Jones’ daughter told the Coast Guard that she hadn’t heard from them and was worried about their well-being. No date has been set for their return, but Jones’ daughter expected them to return by Monday, the Coast Guard said.
“We have not received any signs of distress, however we urge the public to keep a close eye on Yanni Nichopoulos and Dale Jones,” the lieutenant commander said. Christopher Pulliam, search and rescue coordinator at the Fifth District Command Center.
HC-130 Hercules crews made two overflights of the approximate area of the missing boaters and the Coast Guard issued an urgent maritime information broadcast to alert boaters in the area.
The Coast Guard is working with authorities in the Azores, Bermuda and Canada to try to find a mate.
“In situations like this, with so many unknowns, our coordination efforts must cast a wide and deliberate net,” said Chief of Staff Brian Gainey, on duty at the command. “We are monitoring cellphone and radio calls while working with our colleagues in Bermuda to pinpoint the most reasonable search area for our crews.
“It’s a lot of detective work, but it’s all about finding these two people and bringing them home to their families.”
Anyone with information on the couple’s whereabouts is advised to contact the Fifth Coast Guard District.
According to a LinkedIn page linked to Nikopoulos, he worked as a marine mechanic before retiring.
Jones previously worked for a furniture rental company. She has two adult daughters.
On May 29, Jones shared photos on her Facebook page from an elaborate house party her daughters threw for her and her husband to celebrate their 65th birthday, retirement and recent wedding.
Nikopoulos received a T-shirt with a picture of a sailboat and the inscription: “Yes, I have a retirement plan” as a gift.
Two weeks earlier, Jones shared a video of a violent storm that took them by surprise while their sailboat was still docked.
“The wind was so strong that the boat listed to port,” she wrote. “I guess it’s a small taste of what to expect on occasion.”
With mail wires