Missing Virginia boaters found safe after extensive search in Atlantic


The Virginia couple that was the focus of an ocean-wide search of the Atlantic are safe and heading home, according to authorities.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that boaters Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones, both 65 and from Hampton, Virginia, told the Coast Guard Sector Virginia command center that they were 80 miles east of Chincoteague and sailing toward Hampton. The couple wasn’t in distress.

“We are extremely happy to learn Yanni and Dale are found and are safe,” said James Cifers, operations unit watchstander in the Fifth District Command Center. “It is truly wonderful the pair will be reunited with their friends and family soon.”

Authorities said that the couple had to rig a spare sail after being struck by lightning while on their voyage to the Azores Islands.

The couple caught the nation’s attention when their suspected disappearance was widely reported this past week.

They originally set sail for the Azores on June 9, but when the boaters were about 460 miles into their trip, they told Ms. Jones’ daughter on June 13 that they had run into some bad weather and were heading home.

Ms Jones’ daughter expected to hear from her mother and Nikopoulos a few days later, but when she didn’t she contacted the Coast Guard on June 17. 

Authorities got in touch with the Coast Guard command in New England, as well as their counterparts in Canada, Bermuda, and the Azores — an island chain about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal — to be on the lookout for the couple. 

The Coast Guard dispatched two HC-130 Hercules crews to fly over the area of the missing boaters and also put out a bulletin for other boaters to keep an eye out for the boaters, but it did maintain that the there was no reason to think the boaters were in trouble.


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