Charles Daggett, 66, and Thomas Edwards, 68, had taken off March 22 from Clearwater, Fla., in their 35-foot Pearson sailboat named Fly Away. They had planned to be in Panama City the following day before heading toward Corpus Christi, Texas. When they never arrived at their first destination, Daggett’s wife called the Coast Guard two days after their departure, according to a report from the local TV station, WKRG.
On March 27, the Coast Guard sent out a press release informing the public in the area to keep an eye out for a sailboat with a maroon hull, white superstructure and white sails. Two Coast Guard Falcon jets, two search planes and various boat crews from Coast Guard stations in both Florida and Mississippi collectively covered more than 31,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway between Clearwater and Corpus Christi, according to the Coast Guard report.
On March 28, the two men contacted the Coast Guard Station at Destin, Fla., by VHF radio, explaining that the wind had pushed them south after the onboard engine died and they were now heading toward Fort Walton Beach. No indication was given on why the crew did not bother to contact the Coast Guard earlier.
— Elizabeth Ellis