The boat belonging to a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier from Carolina Beach, North Carolina, who was first reported missing in November 2021, has been located.
According to a news release from the town of Carolina Beach, the vessel Joseph Johnson was last seen on washed ashore on an island near Portugal last week.
Authorities in São Jorge Island – a small island located in the Azores group of islands in the mid-Atlantic – contacted Carolina Beach police last week when they discovered a 2006 Clearwater fishing boat that washed ashore was registered to Johnson, the release said.
The island is nearly 3,000 miles from Carolina Beach.
Johnson, 44, was not located. He has been missing for seven months, believed to be at sea.
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According to Sergeant Colby Edens with the Carolina Beach Police Department, the boat showed evidence of capsizing and had heavy buildup of barnacles and algae, indicating it had been capsized for "quite some time."
Johnson was last seen leaving Federal Point Yacht Club in Carolina Beach around 11 a.m. on Nov. 22, 2021. He was reported missing shortly after, on Nov. 27, 2021, when he had not returned for a previously arranged fishing trip with a friend.
Edens said cell phone records showed activity from Johnson's phone off the coast of Bald Head Island, just south of Carolina Beach, on Nov. 22, 2021.
Mary Kay Anderson, Johnson's mother, said she and her family are confident he will be found alive.
"It's not just hope," Anderson said. "We know he's alive and are praying for his miraculous rescue."
Johnson is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who served for 24 years with tours in Afghanistan and South America, Anderson said, so she believes he has skills to survive in dangerous conditions and elements.
"We're getting close," she said. "He's almost here, I can feel it."
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In November, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search for Johnson using five vessels and covering nearly 7,500 square miles over 53 hours. The search was suspended when no new information was found.
Carolina Beach police previously reported Johnson – described as a 6-foot-2, 220-pound white male with strawberry blonde hair – was last seen on a 19-foot SeaCraft Center Console fishing boat, but further investigation found it was the now-located 2006 Clearwater boat, Edens said.
According to the news release, Portuguese authorities are assisting Carolina Beach police as they gather evidence and continue their search for Johnson.
Reach Jamey Cross at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jameybcross.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: North Carolina boater missing, as boat washes ashore near Portugal