Missing North Carolina man’s boat found 2,700 miles away in Azores

CAROLINA BEACH, NC — The boat of a North Carolina man who has been missing for seven months has run aground in the Azores islands, officials said Monday.

Joseph Matthew Johnson has not been found, Carolina Beach police said in a news release. The 44-year-old Carolina Beach resident was last seen leaving the Federal Point Yacht Club marina Nov. 22 on his boat, police said. He was reported missing five days later by a friend who arrived in town on a previously arranged fishing trip, police said.

Video surveillance from the marina where he lived on Nov. 22 shows the boat departing and Johnson’s last cellphone ping was from the shore of Bald Head Island at 5:17 p.m. that same day, Sgt. Colby Edens said by phone Monday.

The US Coast Guard’s search for Johnson in November covered nearly 7,500 square miles, but was suspended when no new information was found, media reported.

Last week, authorities on So Jorge Island, a small island in the Azores, contacted Carolina Beach police when they discovered that a stranded 2006 Clearwater fishing boat was registered to Johnson, police said in a news release. The island, which is part of a mid-Atlantic archipelago about 800 miles west of Portugal, is more than 2,700 miles from Carolina Beach.

When the boat was found on June 21, there was a heavy buildup of barnacles and algae, indicating that it had capsized at sea for some time, Edens said.

Portuguese authorities are helping the Carolina Beach Police Department gather evidence and continue their search for Johnson.

Johnson’s mother, Mary Kay Anderson, said her family was confident he would be found alive, The StarNews reported. The retired US Army Special Forces soldier served for 24 years with tours in Afghanistan and South America. Anderson therefore stated that she believed he had the skills necessary to survive in dangerous conditions and elements.

“It’s not just hope,” Anderson said. “We know he is alive and we pray for his miraculous rescue.”

Copyright © 2022 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All rights reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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