Coast Guard suspends search for missing boaters

The view to the north from the South Island Ferry Boat Landing / Gerard Jebaily

After six days of searching, the Coast Guard says it has suspended its search for three fishermen from Florence.

The men, Jim Sanders, 67, Steve Sanders, 44, and Andy Murray, 34, left the South Island Ferry Boat Landing last Thursday morning for a fishing trip in the Atlantic.

The Florence men were in a 23 foot long boat.

One of their wives reported them missing Thursday night when they failed to return from their trip.

Coast Guard Lt. Commander Ryan Rhodes says their exhaustive search since the men vanished failed to turn up anything.

You can read our previous updates on this story below.


Earlier story - Family of missing boaters keep hope alive

Family members of three missing boaters keep their hopes up - waiting, praying, encouraging each other - while the search continues.

The men left Georgetown on a fishing trip last Thursday and haven't been seen since.

Meanwhile, other fishermen say, there may be lessons to be learned from the incident.

Jim Sanders, 67, Steve Sanders, 44, and Andy Murray, 34, took off from South Island Ferry Landing in a 23-foot fishing boat Thursday morning.

They were supposed to be back by sunset and were reported missing when they didn't come home that night.

The Coast Guard, SC Department of Natural Resources and Georgetown County sheriff's office are searching off the coast of Georgetown.

So far, crews haven't found any sign of the boaters. Steve Sanders' two daughters are staying hopeful about what that means.

"I kind of think it's good because if they found debris then there might be a sign of the boat capsizing or sinking, so maybe that there is none is a good sign," said Kimberly Carter.

Carter and Jennifer Stone came to Georgetown from their home in Ohio and plan to stay in the area this week, while the search goes on.

The women say they believe the search crews are doing everything they can. Carter and Stone stay close to their grandmother and other family members for support.

"We pray and we keep each other's spirits up, keep hope and just keep everybody updated on what's going on," Stone said.

Charter boat captain Englis Glover says the ocean can be a beast this time of year. He says it's important for boaters to always keep an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB unit, on board.

"It sends a beacon, it's gonna get sent straight to the Coast Guard, it's gonna give them the location where I'm at and it's gonna tell them who the boat is and who it's registered to and they're coming."

Glover says it's also good to call a local marina or a friend before you shove off.

"They're gonna know all the locations I would have been going that day to go fishing, just to make sure that that base is covered."

Monday evening, Coast Guard officials said the search continued by air and boat and there was still no sign of the fishermen. The search was centered about 10 to 15 miles off shore, in the area of Winyah Bay.


Posted Monday:

Eddie Hinson shares an office space on South Irby Street in Florence with Jim Sanders, one of three men missing in the Atlantic Ocean since last Thursday (see original story below).

Hinson said he last talked to Sanders last Wednesday, when Sanders came by the business to talk about his new boat. Hinson told us Sanders bought the boat last Monday and was eager to take it out on the ocean with his son.

According to Hinson, Sanders told him the axel on the boat was bad.

Hinson said Sanders even asked him to go fishing, but Hinson had work that would keep him in Florence. He said Sanders was an avid fisherman and went out in the ocean at least three times a week.

Hinson said Sanders told him he would see him Friday.

Hinson is keeping in touch with Sanders' wife and is praying that he and the others will be found safe and alive.

Jim Sanders owns a pool and spa business in Florence.


Posted Monday morning:

Monday marks the fifth day of a joint search for three South Carolina fishermen who went missing last week.

Jim Sanders, 67, his son Steve Sanders, 44, and their friend Andy Murray, 34 have been missing since leaving at 8 a.m. Thursday morning from South Island Ferry Landing.

A C-130 aircraft, two helicopters and a Coast Guard cutter are currently searching the area near Georgetown where the men's 23-foot boat was last seen, according to Amy Harman with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials say they have been continuously search despite spots of bad weather and low visibility.


Posted Sunday:

Sunday marked day four for a search for three missing fisherman who never returned from a trip.

Coast Guard helicopters, a C-130 aircraft, a cutter and smaller boats are searching by sea and air.

Jim Sanders, 67, Steve Sanders, 44, and Andy Murray, 34 have been missing since departing 8 a.m. Thursday morning from South Island Ferry Landing.

Coast Guard officials say they have been contiuously search despite spots of bad weather and low visibility.

They have still be coming up dry.

No word on if crews plan to search on Monday.


Posted Saturday:

Coast Guard units in Georgetown and Charleston resumed their search Saturday morning for the three men missing off the coast of Georgetown county in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crews began searching at 7:15 a.m. Saturday morning and plan to search all day.

Coast Guard officials say the conditions are deteriorating and visibilty is getting bad.

"At this point though were not at the point where will call it off because of bad weather." Lt. Commander Ryan Rhodes says.

DNR and Coast Guard crews are searching by water and air.


Posted Friday:

The Coast Guard identifies the three missing boaters as Jim Sanders, 67, Steve Sanders, 44, and Andy Murray, 34.

A family member told the Coast Guard the three left South Island Ferry Landing near Georgetown Thursday morning on a fishing trip and planned to return before sunset.

A Coast Guard Station Georgetown 25-foot rescue boat crew, a Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter air crew, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Georgetown County Sheriff's Office searched throughout the evening with no sightings.

Lt. Commander Ryan Rhodes, with Coast Guard Station Charleston, says seas right now are about 3 to 4 feet. The winds are about 5 to 10 knots, and the ocean water temperature is about 43 degrees.

Lt. Commander Rhodes says the search area varies, but for the most part they are searching from Winyah Bay in Georgetown County out about 10 to 15 miles.


Original Story Posted Friday morning:

The Coast Guard confirms three people are missing at sea.

They told NewsChannel 15 they left on a 23-foot sea yacht out of Georgetown Thursday and they were assisted by Sea Tow the same day.

The group left South Island Ferry at 10 a.m. and headed toward Winyah Bay.

The wife of one of the boaters called the Coast Guard at 9 p.m. Thursday to report her husband missing.

The Coast Guard has been searching for the three men, 2 of whom are from Florence, throughout the night and into Friday.

We will continue to update you here on and on Your News at 6 p.m.