By Richard Gaines
---- — The U.S. Coast Guard at 5:55 tonight called off the search, in its third day, for the scalloping boat Foxy Lady II, and its crew of two.
Jolena Rogers, first cousin of the captain, Wally "Chubby" Gray Jr., 26, said the families were informed in face-to-face meetings that Gray and his mate, Wayne Young, 50, were presumed "lost at sea."
The Foxy Lady II was homeported in Gloucester. Gray and Young were from Deer Isle, Maine.
Although the search has been suspended, the Coast Guard will investigate to try to determine what happened to the vessel and its crew.
The Foxy Lady II left Gloucester on Saturday for a day trip to Stellwagen Bank. Gray had text-messaged his girlfriend through the morning until around noon; she contacted the Coast Guard on Monday morning when the boat still had not returned. The Coast Guard said the vessel had not issued an SOS or any electronic emergency signals.
The Coast Guard searched Massachusetts Bay Monday through the daylight hours Wednesday.
The decision to end the search was made by the commander of Coast Guard Sector Boston, John O'Connor.
Hopes for the crew dropped when an unopened survival pod from the Foxy Lady II was found in a marsh in Saugus about 5 p.m. Tuesday, but the family maintained hope while the Coast Guard was actively looking for the boat and the crew.
The last signal emitted by the boat's automatic vessel monitoring system came late Saturday from due east of Boston and equidsistant between Gloucester and Provincetowm. The VMS beeps every half hour for law enforcement monitoring, but is not considered by the Coast Guard in search and rescue calculations.
The Foxy Lady II's EPIRB signal — a floating transmitter with an antenna that begins sending signals for search and rescue when it hits the water, but must be afloat — did not activitate, according to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Hall said the search and rescue command was forced to withdraw its two 110-foot patrol boats earlier today due to high seas —up to 12 feet — but the 270-foot cutter Spencer was still at work as the last light disappeared, working with radar and search lights. The search had covered 2,800 miles.
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