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After a long night of searching, Coast Guard finds missing boaters on Santa Cruz Island

After a long night of searching, Coast Guard finds missing boaters on Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Island (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The frantic call to the Coast Guard came in at about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

A Ventura woman was calling about her husband. Two married friends had sailed down the coast from Bodega Bay, and he had joined them for a boat ride to Santa Cruz Island.

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They were supposed to return around sunset and hadn't shown up. Could someone help find them?

After a full night of searching involving a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, 12 people aboard the Coast Guard cutter Black Tip and the Ventura Harbor Patrol, the missing boaters were found safe on the island early Wednesday.  It turns out they were fine, but their cellphone service was nonexistent.

"It happens all the time," said Danny Phee, a civilian search-and-rescue specialist for the Coast Guard. "One of the most common things we get is overdue calls, and we have to take them seriously because if someone doesn't show up, it gets everyone concerned."

Authorities located the car of the caller's husband' at a Ventura marina Tuesday night and confirmed that the three had not returned. The Coast Guard has not identified those involved in the incident.

They were aboard a 35-foot sailing vessel called Tenacious and had planned to visit the back side of the island, Phee said.

Rescuers found the boat at Albert Anchorage at 5:10 a.m. Wednesday.

The boaters had no cellphone service, and they were not answering radio calls, Phee said. The woman who called the Coast Guard thought they were returning Tuesday night, but they had planned on returning Thursday, he said.

"It was a miscommunication," Phee said. "There's no communication in that area."

Phee said the vast majority of searches for overdue boaters happen that way, and that most come show up on their own.

"It's what we're here for," he said. "If you're lost, we'll find you."

Authorities called the worried wife early Wednesday morning.

"The reporting source," Phee said, "was very relieved."

Twitter: @haileybranson

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