A married couple from Virginia has vanished on a sailing trip to Portugal after reporting that their boat had been damaged by rough seas.
Virginia Beach retirees Yanni Nikopoulos and Dale Jones, both 65, went missing after embarking on a 2,700-mile journey to the Azores Islands, the US Coast Guard said Tuesday.
Nikopoulos and Jones left Hampton, Virginia, June 8 on their 36-foot sailboat, Kyklades, to the mid-Atlantic archipelago located about 800 miles west of mainland Portugal, the Coast Guard said.
Five days into their adventure, the pair told Jones’ daughter that heavy weather battered their sailboat and they were returning to Hampton early, the Coast Guard said.
The two were about 460 miles east of Virginia Beach at the time of the call, but no further communications were received, officials said.
On Friday, Jones’ daughter reported to the Coast Guard that she had not heard from them and was concerned for their well-being. No date was set for their return, but Jones’ daughter expected them to be back by Monday, the Coast Guard 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.
HC-130 Hercules crews have conducted two overflights of the approximate area of the missing boaters and the Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast to alert boaters in the area.
The Coast Guard is working with authorities in the Azores, Bermuda and Canada trying to help locate the pair.
“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. “We’re tracking cell phone and radio pings as we work with our counterparts in Bermuda to accurately determine the most intelligent search area for our air crews.
“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.”
Anyone with information about the couple’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Fifth Coast Guard District.
According to a LinkedIn page associated with Nikopoulos, prior to his retirement, he was employed as a marine mechanic.
Jones previously worked for a furniture rental company. She has two grown daughters.
On May 29, Jones shared photos on her Facebook page from an elaborate house party that her daughters had organized for her and her husband to celebrate their 65th birthdays, retirements and recent wedding.
Nikopoulos was gifted a T-shirt featuring the image of a sailboat and the words: “Yes, I Have A Retirement Plan.”
Two weeks earlier, Jones shared a video of a severe storm that had caught them off guard while their sailboat was still docked.
“The wind was so strong it leaned the boat to port side,” she wrote. “I guess it’s a little taste of what to expect on occasion.”
With Post Wires