David McAuliffe

David McAuliffe, captain of the Cape Hatteras, was lost at sea.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s search for the lead captain of the 45-foot Sea Tow boat Cape Hatteras continued through the night Tuesday after the boat went missing after leaving Atlantic City early in the morning.

The Coast Guard was hopeful it would be able to rescue David McAuliffe, 32, of Egg Harbor Township whose boat left Farley State Marina in Atlantic City at about 7:45 a.m. He was the only crew member onboard.

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McAuliffe, a graduate of Lacey Township High School, was traveling to C-Jam Marina in Somers Point, according to the Coast Guard.

At about 10:45 a.m., the Coast Guard received an alert from an emergency radio beacon, but the crew member aboard the boat did not respond to cell phone or radio calls.

The search began near Great Egg Harbor and shifted to the south end of Ocean City by the afternoon.

Multiple offices of the Coast Guard were searching for the boater.

“We were on scene within seven minutes after the initial notification,” Lt. Randy Slusher, a helicopter pilot at Air Station Atlantic City, said in a statement.

“We were returning from a training mission when we heard the EPIRB, and we immediately diverted to conduct search patterns. We had to return to base due to low fuel, but another aircrew had already launched to search before we departed (the scene).”

A woman who answered the phone at McAuliffe’s home Tuesday night declined an interview request.

Ocean City police Capt. Steven Ang cq said that he was told the Coast Guard was looking for an overturned boat about a mile and a half off the southern end of the island. He had no further details.

Coast Guard officials said they believed the boat had survival equipment aboard, including two survival suits and two life rafts. Petty Officer Cynthia Oldham said the hope was that McAuliffe was able to use the equipment and will be found safely.

Oldham said the search will continue throughout the night.

The alert received by the Coast Guard was an EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The beacon transmits a coded distress message when it comes into contact with water.

The recorded water temperature off of Atlantic City at 2 p.m. Tuesday was 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

According to information on Sea Tow's website, Cape Hatteras is suited for "towing, ungrounding, jump starts, fuel drops, crew boat work, survey work, and assisting in search and rescue operations."

The boat can be used offshore and in foul weather, has a range of 525 nautical miles and a cruising speed of 21 knots.

Sea Tow Chief Administrative Officer Kristen Frohnhoefer said the company is supporting the Coast Guard during its search and is hopeful McAuliffe will be found safe.

“We’re very appreciative of all of the Coast Guard’s efforts, and our thoughts are with his family as the search continues,” she said.

Contact Joel Landau:


Follow Joel Landau on Twitter @landaupressofac

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