No Sign of Missing Boat

August 5, 2005

SINCE a fishing boat bearing five passengers,including two U.S. tourists, disappearedin the Pacific off Playa FlamingoJuly 29, Costa Rican searchers have beenjoined by the Nicaraguan coast guard, aU.S. Hercules C-130 military plane fromits base in El Salvador, private anglers,sailors and commercial fishers and cruisesto no avail.“Nothing, absolutely nothing hasappeared,” Flamingo coastguard stationdirector Manuel Silva told The Tico Times.The boat, a 23-ft. deep-hull runaboutcalled the Kingfisher, left Playa Flamingo,in the northern Pacific province ofGuanacaste, early on the morning of the29th with five passengers on board: captainHarold González, 27, mates DaniloGonzález, 23, and Mallel Gómez Alanis,16, all Costa Ricans, and Mark Vockeryand Laura McCloud, U.S. tourists, thePublic Security Ministry reported.Vockery, who has three children, andMcCloud married a year ago and were on adelayed honeymoon when the boat disappeared,a friend of the couple wrote TheTico Times.Some of the couple’s family membersarrived this week to help with the search.The captain’s and mates’ families have alsobeen in the water searching since Saturday.UVERTINA Peralta’s husband,Francisco González, is Harold and DaniloGonzález’s uncle, and was at sea lookingfor his nephews this week. Peralta said sheputs their safety in God’s hands.The U.S. C-130 and a twin-engineplane contracted by the police have beenflying sorties over the water near theNicaraguan and Costa Rican coasts, whilethe Costa Rican coastguard has fieldedradio reports and phone calls fromsearchers, both official and private.The search was stalled Saturday, theday after the ship disappeared, when analleged crank caller told the Coast Guard ashrimping boat had recovered the crew.Searchers returned to shore and the ministryannounced the conclusion of the operation,but after a series of calls to verify theclaim, the Coast Guard soon realized it hadbeen deceived.The search resumed Sunday morning,and the Coast Guard is looking into pressingcharges against the caller, Silva said.SEARCH efforts have also beenplagued by well-intentioned callers unintentionallyproviding misinformation,Silva said, but rescuers pinpointed a spot atsea where eyewitness reports indicated theboat had been last seen, and are followingcurrents from that point.The Coast Guard’s ship and a privateyacht it contracted are now in Nicaraguanwaters after the northern neighbor’s governmentgranted permission to enter, Silva said.High winds and steep waves may havecaused the boat to sink, if that is what happened,according to Jim McKee, area sailboat charter company owner and dualU.S.-Costa Rica citizen.“THE captain called his wife Fridayafternoon on a cell phone, said there werefour other boats out there and the waveswere getting large. The other boats weregoing in, and he either had a fish on orwanted to fish longer, and said he’d go inlater. They were about five miles west ofthe Catalina, 11 miles away fromFlamingo,” McKee said.The captain’s wife was unavailable forcomment.McKee blamed stiff winds picked upthat day and throughout the weekend, in aweather phenomenon he compared to“Indian summer” in the United States.“When the winds blow, it sets up winddrivenwaves out of the gulf of Papagayo.They close together and the faces are verysteep, almost vertical, which makes themvery dangerous, so when they hit the sideof a boat, it’s almost like hitting a solidwall of water,” he said.

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