U.S. Coast Guard continues search for 2 missing Virginia Beach boaters sailing from Portugal

·2 min read

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for two Virginia Beach natives who failed to return Monday to Hampton from a cross-Atlantic sailing trip to Portugal, coordinating their efforts with Bermuda and Canadian authorities.

Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones, both 65, were reported missing Monday by Jones’ daughter. She contacted the Coast Guard Fifth District command center June 17, reporting that she hadn’t received any communication from her mother since the pair departed June 13.

Nikopoulos and Jones were attempting to sail a 36-foot sailboat named Kyklades to Portugal’s Azores, a cluster of islands in the mid-Atlantic, when they went missing.

Coast Guard spokesperson Breanna Centeno said the pair left June 8 from Old Comfort Point Marina in Hampton. They were en route to Azores, with plans to continue on to Greece, but on June 13, they notified family members that heavy weather had damaged their sailboat and they were turning around to head back to Hampton. The missing boaters were about 460 miles east of Virginia Beach at the time of the call.

While there was not a set return date, Jones’ daughter indicated she was expecting Jones and Nikopoulos to return back to Hampton Monday, Centeno said.

“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.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with First Coast Guard District, and authorities in Azores, Bermuda and Canada to track cellphone and radio pings to narrow the search for air crews, according to a Tuesday evening press release.

HC-130 Hercules crews from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City have conducted two overflights of the approximate area of Jones and Nikopoulos. An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast has been issued by the Fifth Coast Guard District Command Center to alert boaters in the area to the situation.

“In situations like this, where there are so many unknowns, our coordination efforts need to cast a wide and intentional net,” said Chief Brian Gainey, command duty officer. “It’s a lot of detective work, but it’s all in service to finding these two individuals and bringing them home to their families.”

The Coast Guard is asking that anyone with information related to the search for Jones and Nikopoulos to call the Fifth District Command Center at 757-398-6390.

Caitlyn Burchett, 727-267-6059, caitlyn.burchett@virginiamedia.com