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Coast Guard Finds Missing Family

August 30, 1999

BALTIMORE (AP) _ An Ohio family reported missing at sea two weeks ago was found off the Maryland coast in good condition, unaware that the Coast Guard was searching the Atlantic seaboard for their sailboat.

Coast Guard officials found the Stewart family and their 65-foot boat, the Jolly Joyce, early Sunday 17 miles off Ocean City.

The family discovered they were the subject of the search when they used a cell phone to call their 19-year-old daughter in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday night, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Dionne Short.

The daughter told her family about the search, and then contacted the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard ship reached the boat and towed it to Ocean City.

``They had plenty of food and water,″ said Petty Officer Chris McLain, who was aboard the ship that found the Stewarts. ``There was minor damage to the boat from a storm, but it was definitely a seaworthy vessel.″

Richard and Debbie Stewart, who were sailing with two of their children, had last been heard from nearly four weeks ago.

The sailboat was reported overdue on Aug. 16 by a family friend, prompting a search that covered more than 85,000 square miles from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Maine. The search was suspended Aug. 25 after no trace of the boat was found.

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