The Coast Guard's San Francisco base received the call Sunday afternoon on a marine radio channel in which someone calmly claimed to be on board a 29-foot sailboat about 60 miles off the Monterey coast with his wife, 4-year-old son and nephew. The caller said they were experiencing trouble in high waves and gale-force winds.
The call triggered an expansive air-and-sea search that covered 22,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. No sign of a sailboat or debris was found and the search was called off Tuesday, the Oakland Tribune reported.
"We want to think every case is legitimate," Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena said. "There is the possibility this is a hoax."
No one has come forward to say four family members are missing, the newspaper said.
The Los Angeles times reported the caller said the boat, possibly named the Charmblow, was taking on water and its electronics were failing. Before the Coast Guard lost contact, the caller said the four were abandoning the boat, possibly in a makeshift life raft.