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Missing Virginia Beach couple found safe after their boat was reported overdue

The pair said their boat was struck by lightning after sailing through stormy weather. They rigged a spare sail and continued back toward Virginia.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After a week-long search, the Coast Guard has safely located two boaters who were reported as potentially missing.

Yanni Nikopoulos, 65, and Dale Jones, 65, left Hampton on June 8, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The couple, who sailed toward the Azores, didn’t come back from their trip as scheduled last week.

A news release from the Coast Guard said Jones’ daughter heard from the boaters on June 13. They said heavy weather damaged the boat, and that they were heading back to Hampton.

At that point, officials said Nikopoulos and Jones were more than 400 miles east of Virginia Beach.

On June 17, Jones’ daughter contacted Coast Guard watchstanders. She was worried about the pair's well-being because she hadn't heard from them.

They had originally told her they planned to return on June 20, the day they were classified as missing.

On June 24, the Coast Guard confirmed that the couple had been found safe roughly 80 miles east of Chincoteague. They reported that they had been struck by lightning during the stormy weather but were able to continue their journey back toward Virginia after rigging a spare sail.

The couple told the Coast Guard they were not in distress and did not need additional assistance.

“We are extremely happy to learn Yanni and Dale are found and are safe," said James Cifers in a statement. Cifers is the operations unit watchstander in the Fifth District Command Center. "It is truly wonderful the pair will be reunited with their friends and family soon.”

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