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No sign of missing boat

JUNE 20 U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard officials Sunday called off their combined searches for the four-person crew of a 41-foot sailboat said to have been in distress about 230 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“Suspending a search is one of the hardest decisions a district commander has to make,” Rear Admiral David Pekoske, a commander with the U.S. Coast Guard, says in a news release.

The sailboat, named Free Spirit, had four people on board when the U.S. Coast Guard received a phone call from the stepdaughter of the captain, 56-year-old Jacek Bielecki, saying the crew was in distress and needed to be rescued, the news release says. Bielecki, a British man said to be living in Newport, R.I., was apparently sailing to Europe when he encountered 23- to 30-foot seas and 50- to 90-knot winds whipped up by the remnants Tropical Storm Alberto.

Coast Guard crews on Friday found debris floating near where Free Spirit was last said to be, according to the release. Items found included a wooden door, bleach bottle and a gasoline can, but they could not immediately be linked to the Free Spirit, the Coast Guard said.

Also on board were Bielecki’s 19-year-old son, Jack; 34-year-old Richard White, who is also from England; and Molly Finn, 21, of Newport, according to the news release. Coast Guard officials say they searched an area larger than 15,000 square miles.

— Jason Fell