A Long Island native has been missing in Canada since his sailboat was found Saturday stuck in a shoal on the Ottawa River, one of its engines still running, according to relatives and news reports.
Stephen Cozzette, 57, who grew up in Elwood before moving to Ottawa, was alone on his 35-foot vessel as he went up the river with other boaters, according to Canadian news reports and a Facebook page set up to find him.
Family and friends described him as an avid and skilled sailor, so they have been mystified about what happened.
“He sailed almost all his life,” said his cousin Nicholas Cozzette of East Northport.
Stephen Cozzette’s craft, named Elmo Earleywine, was spotted Saturday afternoon by another boater, who had seen the sailboat earlier in the day lagging behind a group of boaters, then moving in a loop, according to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. In the boat, a medical box was open on a couch, the paper said, and Cozzette’s car was found parked at his sailing club.
Ottawa police divers have been looking for him and an air search was reportedly being planned Tuesday, and his family and friends started a “Help Locate Stephen Cozzette” page on Facebook.
The missing boater’s mother and brother flew to Ottawa Tuesday to help in the search. They could not be reached Tuesday night.
“All I really want is for my cousin to be found,” Cozzette said. “He treated everybody with respect and love.”
Friends and family of the former Long Islander have walked the shores along the route the sailboats took, according to the Facebook page.
“We’ve had quite a few people looking, in the river, on the land, everywhere,” said his friend Darlene McGinnis Tuesday night.
McGinnis, of Ottawa, said she had been one of the contacts with police, calling them three times daily to see if there was news.
She said police do not believe foul play is involved, but she doesn’t think Cozzette had a medical emergency because she considers him “very athletic.”
“It’s hard to say,” McGinnis said. “We’re just waiting for the police to get back to us and let us know what’s going on. . . . The family is still praying.”
She said Cozzette would talk often about his frequent excursions on his boat, especially in his younger days.
“He is the most generous, caring, down-to-earth person you’d probably ever want to meet, very happy and jovial,” McGinnis said. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful man, caring father and loving husband.”