The British press is reporting that the crew of a pleasure boat taking part in the Atlantic Ocean search for the missing sailboat Cheeki Rafiki has found what could be debris from the boat.
The captain of a catamaran that is assisting the search said details had been passed to the Coast Guard, but he did not know whether the debris was part of the U.K. boat, according to a report by BBC News.
Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that Patrick Michel, skipper of the Malisi, said he spotted the debris in the northern part of the search area in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The debris was a plank of wood and a small piece of floating foam, but there was nothing identifying the Cheeki Rafiki. Obviously it is a possibility, and we are definitely treating it very seriously and incorporating that into our search, but I can’t say for certain that it was from the Cheeki Rafiki,” a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard told the publication.
The 40-foot Cheeki Rafiki was sailing back to Southampton, England, last week after racing in Antigua Sailing Week when it went missing early Friday.
Two 406 MHz personal locator beacons registered to the Beneteau First 40.7 were activated and the boat’s agent in the U.K. told the Coast Guard that the last message it received from the four-man crew on Friday said the boat was taking on water.
For the next two-plus days, Coast Guard air crews from North Carolina, Georgia and Canada, as well as commercial vessels, searched more than 4,000 square miles, according to the Coast Guard.
The sailboat apparently capsized more than 600 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., in 15-foot seas and winds topping 50 knots. Air temperature in the vicinity at the time of the disappearance was 59 degrees and the water was 60 degrees, according to the Coast Guard.