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Coast Guard: 2 boaters overdue after scrubbing Azores trip

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for two people reported overdue after they decided to return to Virginia in their weather-damaged boat instead of continuing their sailing trip to Portugal’s Azores.

Coast Guard officials announced Tuesday that Virginia Beach natives Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones, both 65, were missing.

Nikopoulos and Jones left Hampton, Virginia, on June 8 on the 36-foot (11-meter) sailboat Kyklades for the Azores Islands, a mid-Atlantic archipelago about 800 mi (1,290 kilometers) west of Portugal, the Coast Guard said. But five days later, the pair told Jones’ daughter that heavy weather damaged their vessel and they were returning to Hampton, the Coast Guard said.

The two were about 460 miles (740 kilometers) east of Virginia Beach at the time of the call, but no further communications were received, officials said.

On Friday, Jones’ daughter reported to the Coast Guard that she hadn’t heard from them and was concerned for their well-being. No date was set for their return, but Jones’ daughter expected them to be back by Monday, the Coast Guard said.

HC-130 Hercules crews have conducted two overflights of the approximate area of the missing boaters and the Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast to alert boaters in the area. The Coast Guard is working with authorities in the Azores, Bermuda and Canada trying to help locate the pair. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Fifth Coast Guard District.

“We have not received any signs of distress, however, we encourage the public to keep a sharp eye out for Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Pulliam, the search and rescue mission coordinator in the Fifth District Command Center.

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