NEW LONDON — The U.S. Coast Guard says it’s suspended a search for a missing 62-year-old boater from Thompson, Connecticut.
Coast Guard and local agencies launched an aerial and water search for Daniel Strelczuk on Saturday after being notified that a 30-foot sailboat was seen adrift about 3 miles south of Fishers Island, N.Y., in Long Island Sound.
The Coast Guard suspended the search Sunday around 2 p.m. after officials say rescue crews searched for more than 19 hours covering more than 740 square miles.
“We had some expectations, but we didn’t see anything out there,” said Thomas Lalicki of the New London U.S. Coast Guard Station and part of the rescue effort.
Officials say the search extended beyond the calculated survival time for the conditions.
Strelczuk’s son Andy says his father was sailing on the 30-foot fiberglass sailboat from Spicer’s Marina in Noank after following the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, which embarked on her 38th historic voyage to New London.
He says Daniel was an experienced swimmer, but was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the disappearance.
“He was a really experienced single-handed sailor and had 14 years sailing on this Fishers Island and the sound, and I think it was just an accident,” said Adam Strelczuk in a phone interview.
The Coast Guard doesn’t believe weather conditions played in a role in the disappearance. Wind speeds throughout the day on Saturday were between 10-15 mph, which are considered “normal sailing conditions” by the Coast Guard.
We spoke with one boater who says the area of the Long Island Sound between New London and Fishers Island can be dangerous at times.
“There are currents out there, and there are rocks. You have to watch where you’re going,” said Bid Koral, a New Milford resident who sails his boat in the Noank area.
Coast Guard officials estimate Strelczuk could have survived 14 hours in the conditions, but believe he is still alive.
“We still maintain that he made onto Fishers Island. He was only 4 miles away at the time they found the vessel, so he could have made it into Fishers Island or another boater could have picked him up and does not know the situation,” said Lalicki.