Coast Guard officials are scratching their heads after ending a two-day search of the Northern California coast for a reportedly capsized boat that, so far, they are not sure ever existed.
The two-day search for the boat off the Monterey coast near San Francisco was suspended on Tuesday with no signs of debris or any indication that an incident occurred, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.
An air and sea search over a 20,000-mile area of the Pacific Ocean began Sunday evening when a man placed a distress call around 4:20 p.m. saying his 29-foot sailboat was taking on water and having problems with its electronics. Also on board were the man’s wife, 4-year-old son and a young cousin, according to the caller.
About one hour after the initial call, the family of four declared they were abandoning ship.
On Tuesday the Coast Guard released audio of the calls in hopes that a member of the public could identify the man’s voice. The gargled audio is difficult to make out, but officials believe the name of the boat is Charmblow.
"Coast Guard, Coast Guard, we are abandoning ship. This is the (Charmblow), we are abandoning ship," the ship’s operator said in the faint audio.
Problem is, there is no registered owner to a boat by that name, the family has yet to be identified and no one in the area has been reported missing. Officials are not ruling out that the incident may have been a hoax.
And as the Coast Guard called back the patrol boats, planes and helicopters participating in the 42-hour search, officials were turning to the public for help.
“If anyone knows someone who owns a vessel with a similar sounding name, please let us know that,” Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz told NBC BayArea.
Lutz said the family did not have life rafts, but were trying to use coolers and other materials on the boat to use as a makeshift raft.
“Right now we’re asking the public if they know anyone, a friend a relative a neighbor who went out and hasn’t come back that they please call the Coast Guard,” said Lutz.