June 20, 2005 — U.S. Coast Guard helicopters are searching for a missing catamaran after finding the sailboat's emergency locator floating in the French Caribbean sea, officials said Monday.
The 47-foot sailboat initiated a distress signal Sunday afternoon 87 miles west of the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe, said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Eric Willis.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew found the distress beacon — about the size of a shoebox — floating in the sea but found no other sign of the boat, Tortuga, or its two French crewmen, Willis said.
Coast Guard helicopters continued to search the area Monday, although Willis said the beacon may have fallen overboard and accidentally activated itself when it hit the water.
If not in distress, the boat, bound for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., may be in the British or U.S. Caribbean, Willis said.
"We're trying to be realistic. Worst-case scenario, the vessel sank near the emergency locating signal … but there is a realistic assumption this thing went overboard," Willis said.
Willis is asking anyone who sees the boat to report it to the Coast Guard.
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