One of the three people crewing a sailboat that set off from Down East Maine and was believed to be in distress contacted family Monday afternoon to say they were fine and off the coast of Long Island, New York.

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 personnel called off an extensive air-and-sea search of the New England coast after one of the boaters made cellphone contact with family, Coast Guard Operations Unit Controller Chris Berry said. The Coast Guard was informed by about 2 p.m. and suspended the search that had begun Saturday morning, he said.

“They found themselves,” Berry said. “They started answering their phone. One of them called or texted their parents in reply to their parents’ texts and said they were fine, were off Montauk, and were continuing their trip south.”

Montauk, the easternmost tip of Long Island, juts into the Atlantic about 22 miles south of Mystic, Connecticut.

Charlotte Kirby, Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo set off from Mount Desert Island sometime before dawn Saturday aboard the Dove, a 40-foot sailboat, without telling family exactly when they were leaving or where they were headed.

The search began after an emergency dispatcher on the mainland received a garbled 911 call from Kirby’s cellphone about 3 a.m. Saturday. The person calling said they were on a boat, and then the line cut out, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Nicole Groll said.

The dispatcher could not reach the caller again and called the Coast Guard, triggering a wide-ranging, multiday search with boats and aircraft.

The U.S. Coast Guard tweeted several photos of Charlotte Kirby and Nathaniel Davis.

The Coast Guard initially said the 911 caller asked for help, but Groll clarified on Monday that the caller did not say the word “help” during the brief call. Police pinged the cellphone and determined the call originated about 20 miles south of the coast of Mount Desert Island. The Coast Guard then searched the area of the cellphone ping, but found no sign of the vessel or the crew.

It was unclear why someone aboard the vessel dialed 911. On Monday evening, relatives of Lombardo said they were relieved, but also frustrated.

“We’re breathing again,” Sam Holland, Lombardo’s stepfather, said in a phone interview from their New Jersey home. “Now I’m mad. Now I want some answers. I want to know what the hell happened. We want to know why there was a distress call at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Holland and Wilfredo Lombardo’s mother, Anita Lombardo, said they spent the last two days distraught, imagining that their son, 42, who goes by “Freddy,” was dead and lost.

“We’re just a mess,” Anita Lombardo said during an interview about four hours before her son was located. “Losing your son in the ocean and not knowing where he’s at. I’m not ready to consider it a tragedy yet, we still have hope. We’re trying.”

Anita Lombardo said her son had told her they were planning to leave for Florida, but she did not know his exact plan, and did not know where in Florida he was headed.

Lombardo, 42, is friends with Davis. They had planned to live on the boat while they worked together installing solar panels somewhere in Florida, Anita Lombardo said.

The Coast Guard’s search began Saturday with fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft. Rescue workers scoured the waters up and down the New England coast, and by Sunday at dusk, they had searched 2,700 square nautical miles without finding a trace of the craft or its crew.

The sailboat’s homeport is the John Williams Boat Co. in Mount Desert. It departed from Somes Sound, Groll said. The Coast Guard does not know when the boat left port, she added.

 

 

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