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Family missing off Calif. coast

MONTEREY, Calif. — Crews searched by sea and air and sought the public’s help Monday as they intensified efforts to find a husband and wife and two young children who sent a series of distress calls to the Coast Guard the day before.

The couple said Sunday their sailboat was sinking far off the California coast and they were fashioning a raft from a cooler and a life ring.

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The unidentified family had been sailing a 29-foot boat west of Monterey Bay, where strong winds, cold water, and big swells made for perilous conditions. Forecasters issued a weekend advisory warning boaters of rough seas.

The group — which included two children under 8 — made its first distress call late Sunday afternoon, Coast Guard Lieutenant Heather Lampert said. Investigators used the boat’s radio signal and radar to determine the call came from an area about 60 miles west of Monterey, she said.

The boaters reported that their sailboat was taking on water and the electronics were failing.

An hour later, the family members reported they had to abandon the boat and were trying to make a life raft out of a cooler and life-preserver ring, Lampert said. The Coast Guard then lost radio contact.

The agency looked for the family through the night and on Monday, with help from the California Air National Guard.

With no reports of missing persons in the case, the Coast Guard on Monday also released one of the recorded distress calls in hopes it would lead to information that could help in the search.

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