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Capsized commercial fishing boat off Bodega Bay coast identified as Fort Bragg-based Miss Hailee

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The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its nearly day-long search for a man who went missing after a fishing boat capsized off the Sonoma Coast and is now presumed dead.

The 54-foot commercial fishing boat, Miss Hailee, capsized Saturday evening about 30 miles northwest of Bodega Bay, sending four people into the ocean.

The Coast Guard continued to search for one man, whom officials declined to identify, into Sunday morning after rescuing three other people Saturday night. However, that search was suspended Sunday afternoon, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Chris Greenwood said in a phone interview.

During the 16-hour search, crews covered 386 square miles, according to a Coast Guard news release.

“The decision to suspend a search is extremely difficult, and our thoughts are with the missing man and his family at this time,” Capt. Marie Byrd, the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander, said in the news release.

Fog and choppy seas made for rough conditions for the search, which was initiated after a distress signal at 3:42 p.m., Chief Shane Abold, executive petty officer of Station Bodega Bay told The Press Democrat on Saturday.

After no response from multiple callouts to the Miss Hailee, Coast Guard watchstanders launched an airplane and a helicopter crew, as well as two patrol boats, according to a Coast Guard news release early Sunday morning. Those crews arrived about 6:50 p.m. and were able to rescue three of the four people originally on board the vessel. But they were unable to find the fourth person, who was wearing a life jacket, officials said.

Water temperatures are in the 50s, temperatures at which people are expected to survive for one to six hours, according to Minnesota Sea Grant, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant Program.

Greenwood said officials don’t know if the man lost at sea was wearing a wet suit or a dry suit. “A couple different scenarios could impact survivability time,” he said.

Given the location of the disappearance, it’s unclear whether the man will ever be found.

Miss Hailee was a trolling vessel built in 1970 and registered to the Eugene And Verna Kelley Revocable Living Trust in Fort Bragg. Greenwood said he’s not sure what the boat may have been fishing for Saturday— or even if it was fishing.

Dungeness crab season has been delayed until Nov. 22 due to the ongoing migration of endangered humpback and blue whales in these crab-friendly waters.

It’s possible, Greenwood said, that the Miss Hailee crew was scouting or en route to Bodega Bay or farther south past Point Reyes to get in position for the season, saying that would make sense given the home port of Fort Bragg, which is 100 miles north of Bodega Bay.

Anyone with information regarding the missing man should contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 415-399-3547 or via VHF-FM radio channel 16.

You can reach Staff Writer Tyler Silvy at 707-526-8667 or at tyler.silvy@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @tylersilvy.

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