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Four boaters, including 2 kids, missing off Calif. coast

2:47 PM, Feb 25, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) A Coast Guard search Monday morning by boats, helicopter and plane failed to turn up signs of four people, including two young children, who abandoned their sinking 29-foot sailboat for a makeshift raft Sunday evening south of San Francisco.

The Coast Guard identified the four as a husband, wife, their 4-year-old son and his cousin, also a child.

Their sailboat, believed to be named "Charmblow," radioed the Coast Guard around 4:30 p.m. local time Sunday that it was taking on water and that its electronics were failing about 60 miles west of Monterey, according to Coast Guard Lt. Heather Lampert.

About an hour later, the Coast Guard lost radio contact after the operator of the vessel reported that they were abandoning the sailboat.

Lampert said they apparently had fashioned a lifeboat out of a cooler and life preserver ring. There were no life rafts or GPS beacons on board, and it was unclear whether there were life vests on the vessel, she said.

The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter, a HC-130 Hercules aircraft, a lifeboat, a Coast Guard cutter and 87-foot patrol boat to search the area, but without results.

The National Weather Service had issued an advisory throughout the weekend warning boaters of strong winds and rough seas around the Bay Area and advising small vessels not to operate in those conditions.

Four people died in April 2012 when their yacht, the Aegean, sank off the coast of Mexico during the annual Newport-to-Ensanada yacht race.

It was the first fatalities in the 65-year history of the race. The Coast Guard initially theorized the yacht was hit by another vessel or hit the rocks of the shoreline about 15 miles south of San Diego.

U.S. Sailing, the sport's governing body, blamed "an inadequate lookout" for the accident and suggested that the vessel was operating on autopilot at the time that it crashed into the North Coronado island in Mexico, according to the Newport Beach Patch.

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

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