Authorities have suspended the search for a missing Cape Elizabeth man after scouring Casco Bay with airplanes and boats for a second day Thursday.

Adam Patterson, 30, last spoke with his wife at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and has not been heard from since.

Security video shows him leaving the area near DiMillo’s Marina at 3:25 a.m. Wednesday, piloting the 24-foot boat that he operates for Portland Express Water Taxi. Authorities say he left behind two personal cellphones. Portland police declined to release the video of Patterson leaving in the water taxi, citing the ongoing investigation into his disappearance.

The Maine Marine Patrol launched two boats and a float plane Thursday and the U.S. Coast Guard sent a HC-133 Hercules airplane from Cape Cod to search for Patterson and the boat.

Gene Willard, the owner of Portland Express Water Taxi, described the water taxi as being unsinkable. A few years ago, he hired a boat shop to inject rigid foam into the vessel’s hull. Though the boat – which he refers to as the Eastern – could get swamped during a storm, it will not sink.

“It’s impossible for that boat to sink,” Willard said Thursday night. The water taxi that has gone missing has the words “The Water Taxi” printed on the bow.


The agencies used to search for the boat concentrated on the area between Portland and Seguin Island, off Georgetown, based on information from Patterson’s friends about where he might have gone, said Jeff Nichols, spokesman for the Marine Patrol.

The Marine Patrol also tried to use a company cellphone that was believed to be on board the taxi to locate it, but had no success. Both search boats made contact with fishermen and other boaters to spread the word about the missing water taxi, Nichols said.

The agency will continue to watch for Patterson and the water taxi as part of its routine patrols, but has suspended the search to locate him.

Shirley Conner lives on Long Island. When she was teaching school, she used the water taxi service and got to know Patterson.

“He was a wonderful young man,” said Conner, who retired from teaching 18 months ago. “I’m hoping for a miracle. I hope he turns up OK.”

The Marine Patrol led the search effort while Portland police reconstructed a time line of Patterson’s movements over the past few days as part of a missing persons investigation.


The Coast Guard assisted the Marine Patrol, but did not launch its own search-and-rescue operation because there was no indication of a boater in distress, such as the person being overdue, and there was no approximate area to search, such as a last known location, said Coast Guard Lt. David Bourbeau.

Patterson’s vehicle was found in the DiMillo’s parking lot. Both of his personal cellphones were found aboard a sailboat docked at Long Wharf, where he had been staying for about 10 days after having some marital issues, authorities said.

Kyle Jacobs, another employee of Portland Express Water Taxi, told authorities he was the last person to use the boat and secured it at 11 p.m. Tuesday with about 30 gallons of fuel on board, which would give it a range of 100 to 150 miles, Nichols said. Jacobs told the Marine Patrol that the boat was in good condition. Patterson was not scheduled to operate it, Nichols said.

Capt. Dan Tonini, who operates Sea Tow water taxis, said Patterson’s disappearance is worrisome given that there should have been two radios and a cellphone on the boat that he could have used to call for help if he had run into trouble.

“It weighs ominously on my shoulders,” Tonini said Thursday morning. “I know him from a professional standpoint. I know him to be a good captain and a good guy … very smart.”

Tonini said operating a water taxi carries the same hazards as many other maritime professions, especially at night.


“There is a lot of stuff that can happen out there,” he said. “It can be dangerous.” He noted there were gale warnings Tuesday night, with rain and strong tides. High winds and strong tides can cause the seas to build up, he said, creating hazardous conditions for a small boat.

At dawn Wednesday, winds were from the northeast blowing 20 to 30 mph with 40 mph gusts, Nichols said. Seas were 5 to 8 feet and the National Weather Service had issued a gale warning.

Tonini said that in that kind of weather, a disabled boat would be pushed far south.

“If we consider the wind blowing how it was, he would be halfway to Cape Cod right now,” Tonini said Thursday morning. “I’m very concerned. … I hope for the best.”

The Coast Guard plane searched farther out Thursday morning before returning to its base on Cape Cod.

The Marine Patrol was notified at 9 a.m. Wednesday that Patterson and the boat were missing, Nichols said. On Wednesday, authorities searched offshore waters in the area from Portland to Yarmouth, Phippsburg to Harpswell Sound, and from South Portland to the Kennebunk River.


Portland police say Willard, the company’s owner, reported the boat and Patterson missing at 2 p.m. Wednesday. No one else was believed to be aboard.

Willard said Thursday he couldn’t say much about the search and Patterson until more is known, out of respect for Patterson’s family.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Capt. Adam and his family,” Willard said. He said everyone involved in the search for Patterson has worked hard and done a great job communicating updates on the search.

Patterson’s wife could not be reached for comment, and there was no response to a callback request left at the home of Patterson’s mother Thursday.

The missing water taxi is equipped with a 150-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor. Water taxis typically arrange fares by phone, transporting no more than six passengers between the mainland and the islands of Casco Bay. They also can be chartered for tours and special events.

Staff Writers Joe Lawlor and Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


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