Nantucket, MA

Family of missing Georgia fishermen believe they may be off Nantucket

The Inquirer and Mirror

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( Nov. 2, 2023 ) Hope and faith are fueling a family’s search for their missing son and his two friends off the coast off Nantucket.

“It’s never anything that you want to hear. The fear, the scenarios want to try to creep in your head, but my faith is so strong that I just don’t let it,” said Kim Jones, mother of one of the fishermen, Tyler Barlow.

Their boat, the Carol Ann , originally left from a dock in Brunswick, Ga. Oct. 14. But it never returned home. The three men have been missing with no contact for 17 days. The family now believes the boat may have become disabled and carried as far north as Nantucket by the Gulf Stream.

“For me it’s faith. I know they’re out there just waiting to be rescued. We just got to find them,” Jones said.

The Coast Guard ended its initial search in the waters off Charleston, S.C., Oct. 26. The three men were said to be heading to that area to fish.

“Since the Coast Guard stopped their search, I’ve just been concentrated on getting the private search started and keeping it going. Unfortunately for the most part I’ve had to push my emotions to the side,” Chris Barlow, Tyler’s father, said. “Early mornings, late at night when I go to bed is difficult, but during the middle of the day for the most part, I try to stay focused.”

He said hope is keeping him going.

“There’s no type of evidence that points to them not still being out there. There were no signs of the boat sinking or anything found by the Coast Guard in their initial search,” Barlow said. “My son Tyler is as stubborn as I am so he’s not going to give up either.”

Two planes are searching an area 54 miles southeast of Nantucket in search of the boat, one plane sent by Barlow from Savannah, Ga., and one flown by an island pilot.

“I’m not sure exactly what time either of the planes took off this morning, but I know the two pilots had a meeting first thing this morning to collaborate and see who was going to fly in what areas,” Barlow said.

The plane he sent arrived on-island Wednesday night, Barlow said.

Photographers are on board both planes to take pictures of the offshore area where they believe the boat carrying his son and two friends, Caleb Wilkinson and Dalton Conway, is still adrift.

The only information they have to go on is a picture from a buoy camera off Nantucket that was sent to Barlow Tuesday. The picture shows a boat that matches the color and size of the Carol Ann.

Barlow has been working in tandem with a company called Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, which uses federal surplus equipment and volunteers to offer search and rescue services in the New England area for no cost.

He’s been sending them the images taken from the planes to be analyzed.

“The images from previous searches haven’t turned up anything pertinent to our search. They spotted things that were of interest, but they were all ruled out,” he said Thursday. “We haven’t seen any kind of debris or wreckage that matches our boat or anything we’re looking for, so that’s very hopeful.”

The pilots managed to send some images to DEEMI Thursday from their search efforts so far, Barlow said. Those photos are currently in the process of being analyzed, and the rest from Thursday were sent at the end of the day.

“They run them through software and a person actually reviews each and every image as well,” he said.

Barlow also managed to enlist a plane from AIRtec Inc., a company with specialized military-grade imaging abilities, to join the effort. That plane is on its way to the island to help.

He has been turned down by every other aviation company he has tried.

“I’ve never tried to spend so much money and been told no so many times,” he said.

He also hopes some fishermen might step forward to help.

“We're trying to get some fishing boats that we can coordinate with or even hire charter boats up there to get them out on the water,” he said Wednesday.

No fishermen have volunteered yet, he said.

Jones is thankful for those that have stepped up to help thus far though.

“We’re thankful for our supporters, the prayers, the love, the donations. It’s just unreal. This isn’t just Georgia anymore,” he said. “I have friends over in Japan that are hearing this, it’s worldwide. All those that have fallen in love with our boys, we want to thank them for their support. We just want to bring them home.”

Coast Guard Station Brant Point is standing by while Coast Guard Sector New England leads the investigation.

“We’re keeping our eyes out 100 percent. The first we heard about it was yesterday, and we’re just standing by for some guidance,” chief petty officer Jeff Wecal said Wednesday.

“We have no evidence, we just got a call saying that based off a private company’s estimation, the boat could have drifted up here in the Gulf Stream. We immediately contacted our chain of command, and they’re running with it.”

Coast Guard Station Brant Point is standing by while Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England monitors the search passes all information and potential leads related to the Carol Ann case to the Coast Guard 7th District in Miami.

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