By Debbie Carson, Online EditorJACKSONVILLE — An alert crewman on a passing merchant vessel spotted two missing Vero Beach boaters Tuesday afternoon, some 65 miles off the coast of Jacksonville and almost 200 miles from where they had set off on a fishing trip Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The men, who were taken aboard the Turkish vessel Yasa Seyhan, were expected to arrive at the Port of Jacksonville Tuesday evening.
“Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Ross are two very lucky individuals as they didn’t have all their safety equipment aboard their vessel,” said Capt. Drew Pearson, Seventh Coast Guard District chief of search and rescue. “Finding them came down to the alertness of a passing merchant vessel. The lesson learned for all boaters is no matter how short the trip, ensure you have all your safety devices with you while underway.” The two Vero Beach men, Vincent Faulkner, 39, and Eric Ross, had been the object of a widespread search by Coast Guard cutters, helicopters, jets and small boats since they were reported missing Sunday night while fishing in a 14-foot boat off the coast of Fort Pierce. The two had departed from the Black Pearl boat ramps in Fort Pierce.The search area quickly expanded from the waters off Fort Pierce north to Cape Canaveral, but the small boat somehow had been carried considerably farther north.The men were reported in stable condition with no injuries or medical concerns.