A crew member who was seasick, cold and uncomfortable made the 911 call last month that set in motion the massive search for a 40-foot sailboat off Mount Desert Island, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

This 40-foot sailboat, named Dove, was reported missing Nov. 16 about 20 miles south of Mount Desert Island. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

The search for the Dove had covered 2,700 square nautical miles over two days when it was called off after family members made contact with the crew, but the boat ran into trouble a few days later and the crew was rescued off the coast of Virginia on Nov. 19.

Coast Guard officials interviewed the crew of the Dove – Charlotte Kirby, Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo – at the Dominion Terminal Pier in Norfolk, Virginia, on Nov. 22.

The Coast Guard provided details of the interview on Wednesday, including that Charlotte Kirby told them she called 911 because she was not feeling well.

“She was feeling cold, uncomfortable and she was seasick,” Kenneth Stuart, command duty officer for the South Portland Coast Guard Command Center, said during a telephone interview Wednesday night. Stuart said Kirby also told investigators she “was not sure she was going to get warm again.”

Stuart said the sailors will not be fined and the cost of the search mission will likely never be known since it was treated as a legitimate distress call.

“That’s our mission, to respond to all distress calls,” Stuart said.

A mainland dispatcher received the initial 911 call to around 3 a.m. on Nov. 16.

“She told the dispatcher, we’re on a boat,” and the call dropped, Stuart said. That 911 call originated about 20 miles south of Mount Desert Island. Stuart said the crew of the Dove continued on their voyage south, unaware that the Coast Guard was looking for them.

On Nov. 17, the Coast Guard conducted an aerial and water search of the New England coast that covered 2,700 square nautical miles. The search came up empty and the search continued for two days until a family member of one of the crew reactivated a subscription to a communication and navigation device on the boat.

That allowed the family member to send a message to the Dove alerting the crew that the Coast Guard was searching for them. The crew then radioed their location off Montauk, New York, to authorities.

But on Nov. 19, the crew of the Dove had to be rescued off the coast of Virginia by the Jaguar Max, a cargo ship, after the trio reported that it had been demasted, Stuart said, adding that the cargo ship had to divert its course to rescue Kirby, Davis and Lombardo.

Stuart said the crew of the Dove abandoned the sailboat about 200 miles east of Cape Henry, Virginia. The Coast Guard has no plans to retrieve the vessel, and continues to broadcast its location as a safety precaution to vessels in the area.

Stuart said that Davis owns the sailboat.

Once the cargo ship brought the three to shore, they were interviewed as part of the Coast Guard investigation.

The Dove set sail from the John Williams Boat Co. in the town of Mount Desert with Kirby, Davis and Lombardo on board.

The Coast Guard said they set out on their voyage south without telling family members when they were leaving or where they were headed. An island resident recalled seeing them buying hundreds of dollars worth of groceries.

Stuart said that Kirby and Davis told investigators they were heading south on the Dove to spend the winter in the Caribbean, while Lombardo said he planned to work in Miami this winter.

 

 

 

 

 

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