ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Six missing boaters were found alive and well on their disabled boat Monday about 120 miles off the coast after failing to return from an overnight fishing trip, the Coast Guard said.
One of those on board is an avid fisherman who 21 years ago saved five people whose boat had caught fire and was about to sink, his daughter-in-law said.
The Coast Guard found the boat around 7:15 p.m. after searching a total area of 3,200 square miles.
The 32-foot vessel was to be towed back to shore overnight by a Coast Guard cutter. Because the stricken boat is so far out to sea, it will likely be Tuesday morning before they reach shore.
The boat is to be towed to the Coast Guard Station in Cape May, Coast Guard Petty Officer David Marin said.
It was not immediately clear what happened to the boat or why its crew was unable to contact relatives or authorities. Petty Officer Jonathan Lindberg said none of the six appeared to require immediate medical attention.
"They're all in pretty good shape," he said.
A mayday call from the boat named the Black Magic was picked up at 1 a.m. Monday. The Coast Guard expanded its search as far north as Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, where the signal was received.
The boat left on a weekend overnight fishing trip in search of tuna and was supposed to return to its marina in Forked River, N.J., on Sunday.
"Everyone is just so relieved," said Johanna Silcox, whose father-in-law, Edward Silcox of Langhorne, Pa., was among those rescued. "I don't know why, but we all just had a feeling he was going to be all right.
"In 1989, my father-in-law and my husband rescued five people from a boat that was on fire and sinking," she said. "I guess what goes around comes around."
The boat is owned by Geoffrey McDade, a diesel mechanic, and his 26-year-old son, James McDade, a machinist in the Navy who recently returned from a stint in Iraq. Both men were among those on board the Black Magic when it ran into trouble.
Others on board were Bernie Otremsky, of Haddon Township, and Jerry Lewis and Ray Somerville, whose hometowns were not immediately available.
Thomas McDade said his father and brother were among the group that left Saturday morning on a trip to catch tuna about 85 miles east of Atlantic City. They were to return Sunday morning and when they weren't home by the evening, Thomas McDade said his mother called authorities.
The search for the vessel initially focused on the area near where the men had planned to go fishing.
It was expanded to include Martha's Vineyard after a Coast Guard radio tower picked up a mayday call, though the guard continued to search the area off New Jersey. Two rescue helicopter crews from Atlantic City, a C-130 aircraft from Elizabeth City, N.C., and three Coast Guard boats from ports along the Jersey shore participated in the search.
The weather in the area was mostly calm over the weekend, said Greg Heavener, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's southern New Jersey office.
"The winds were fairly benign," he said. "There were a few spikes where it briefly reached 25 knots, but that was very, very quickly. There weren't any gales out there, and the seas were 3 to 5 feet, nothing out of the ordinary."
Johanna Silcox said her family was worried about Edward Silcox's health. He underwent a triple bypass operation years ago.
"The entire family is probably going to forbid him from ever setting foot on a boat ever again," she joked.
Associated Press Writer Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield contributed to this story.
(This version CORRECTS hometown of Silcox to Langhorne, Pa., not Woodbridge, NJ.)