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Coast Guard suspends search for Bethpage boater

A two-day search for a Long Island man believed to be missing in the waters off southern New Jersey has been suspended, the U.S. Coast Guard officials said Saturday.

The missing boater -- whose unoccupied vessel was found nine miles off the New Jersey coast -- was identified as Vincent Tangorra, 56, of Bethpage. Tangorra was towing a water scooter with the 37-foot sailboat Polaris from New York to North Carolina, according to his family, officials said.

The Coast Guard said two helicopters and three boats searched for Tangorra.

"They were doing search patterns through the night," said spokeswoman Petty Officer Cindy Oldham of the Coast Guard station in Atlantic City. "It [the search] has been suspended unless someone reports something that indicates that he's out there still. They are not actively searching anymore."

The search for Tangorra began Friday after a commercial salvage company employee reported an abandoned water scooter floating in Cape May Harbor about 11 a.m.

Using the registration number on the water scooter, Coast Guard officials were able to contact his brother, who confirmed Tangorra was the owner and operator of Polaris.

He also told the Coast Guard he last spoke with Tangorra on Thursday and learned Polaris was experiencing engine trouble.

Using a cellphone number provided by Tangorra's brother, Coast Guard officials used GPS tracking to locate the sailboat, which was nine miles offshore from Avalon, N.J., Coast Guard officials said.

Participating in the search for Tangorra were a 45-foot response-boat crew from Station Cape May, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City and the crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Ibis, homeported in Cape May.

No other agencies were involved in the search, Oldham said.

Raphael Tangorra of Bethpage, the boater's nephew, said, "We are just hoping for the best outcome right now." He declined to comment further.

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