Details emerged Tuesday about how the Coast Guard re-established contact with a Maine sailboat and crew whose whereabouts were unknown for more than two days.

This 40-foot sailboat, named Dove, was reported missing Saturday about 20 miles south of Mount Desert Island. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard officials said the 40-foot sailboat, Dove, was located Monday afternoon when a family member of one of the three people aboard reactivated a subscription to a communication and navigation device on the boat.

Charlotte Kirby, Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo set off from Mount Desert Island sometime before dawn Saturday without telling family members when they were leaving or where they were going.

An extensive ocean search began after a mainland dispatcher received a garbled 911 emergency call from Kirby’s cellphone around 3 a.m. Saturday. The caller told the dispatcher they were on a boat, just before the cellphone call dropped.

It’s still not clear why the crew made a 911 call at that hour, a call that the Coast Guard characterized as a distress call. On Sunday, a fixed-wing aircraft based on Cape Cod searched 2,700 square nautical miles of ocean between Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Mount Desert Island with no success.

Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Noel, in a telephone interview Tuesday evening, said that once the subscription was activated, the navigation device, which is equipped with a GPS system, allowed the family member to send a message to the crew alerting them that the Coast Guard was searching for the sailboat.

The GPS system also allowed the Coast Guard to determine the Dove’s location Monday – 90 miles south of Montauk, New York.

“Established communications with the 40-foot sailboat Dove, and confirmed they are not in distress. We are standing down search efforts. With outstanding coordination and cooperation with the families we were able to confirm their loved ones are not in distress,” said Search and Rescue Mission coordinator Cmdr. Kelly Denning in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Noel confirmed that Coast Guard investigators want to interview the crew at their next port of call. Unfortunately, Noel said, the crew did not file a plan outlining their destination and potential ports of call.

Noel said the Coast Guard does not know yet how much the search-and-rescue mission cost the government.

 

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