The report about a family of four sinking in a sailboat off California may be a hoax — that, or the Pacific Ocean swallowed them up, authorities now believe.
Tuesday evening the Associated Press reported the Coast Guard had called off the search after “exhausting” all their resources.
The supposed sinking was of a boat called the "Charmblow" off the coast of Monterey, but no boat of that name nor a family with two children was reported as missing.
“We’ve exhausted the possibilities,” Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz told the AP. After receiving the call on Sunday the Coast Guard went ahead with a search, keeping in mind that it might have been a prank.
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The story had been tugging the heartstrings of coastal residents for two days, but it seems a trickster has fooled them.
The supposed distress call said the 29-foot Charmblow was taking on water and the boat’s electronics were not working.
Though the boat didn’t have a working GPS system, rescuers were able to determine the distress call came from about 60 miles west of Monterey, where there were perilous conditions on Sunday.
According to the AP, forecasters had warned boaters of hazardous weather over the weekend.
In the call, a distressed boater said he was with his wife, 4-year-old son and his cousin. An hour later he said the family was abandoning the ship.
A man’s calm voice is heard saying in the muffled recording, “Coast Guard, Coast Guard, we are abandoning ship. This is the (Charmblow). We are abandoning ship.”
Coast Guard Executive Officer Noah Hudson in Monterey had mixed emotions about the search being called off on Tuesday.
He told the AP:
“It’s tough for me thinking that we had four people out on the water who were in need of rescue, and to think there might have been loss of life in this case, it’s tragic.”
But if it were all a trick, “it’s unfortunate that we were forced to use so many resources for so much time,” Hudson said.
Part of the distress call can be heard on an earlier Coast Guard posting here.