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Boat search hampered by wind and choppy seas

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- A Coast Guard search over a 5,000-square-mile area of the Pacific Ocean for a missing 80-foot shrimp boat with five people aboard was hampered by winds and choppy seas.

'The visibility is good but the wind is causing a little problem, making the seas choppy,' Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Hyett said Sunday as a plane, two helicopters and a cutter completed their third day of searching off the southern Oregon coast for the Liebling, a fishing boat based in Astoria, Ore.

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'A little wind causes enough whitecaps that it makes (people) easier to spot, but any choppiness won't help them if they're in the water,' he said.

The search area was expanded Sunday to cover a 5,000-square-mile area to 20 miles offshore, Hyett said. The boat was last seen early Thursday about three miles offshore.

The Liebling, carrying four members of one family from Crescent City, Calif., plus a crewman from Brookings, Ore., was equipped with only three survival suits, Hyett said.

Those aboard the missing boat were identified as Dale Dixon, 40, and his three sons -- Rusty, 18, Jason, 15, and Caleb, 8 -- and crewman Mike Goergen.

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Weather permitting, the search will continue at least until the area is thoroughly covered, Hyett said.

The missing vessel was last seen by the shrimp boat Cape Sebastian about 1 a.m. Thursday, 15 miles south of Cape Blanco and 3 miles offshore.

'They made arrangements to meet 20 miles off the coast early Thursday morning, but they failed to show up,' Hyett said.

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