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4 Missing in Waters Off San Francisco
PHOTO: A U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter prepares to search for two adults and two children who were forced to abandon their sailboat when it began taking on water south of San Francisco, Feb. 24, 2013.

The US Coast Guard intensified its search today for a family of four, including two young children, who may be clinging to a life ring and a cooler off the Northern California coast after their sailboat took on water.

A distress call came into the Coast Guard Sunday afternoon that the 29-foot vessel, believed to be named Charmblow, was sinking in choppy waters.

The sailboat's failing electronics system was unable to provide the Coast Guard with clues as to its exact location, which rescuers initially believed was 65 miles from Pillar Point, just south of San Francisco, Lt. Heather Lampert said.

After reviewing radio tapes and making new calculations, Lampert said the search effort today has been shifted slightly south to 65 miles off the coast of Monterey Bay.

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The names of those on board and their destination were unknown, however the missing are believed to include a man and a woman, their 4-year-old son, and his cousin, Lampert said.

A National Weather Service advisory warning of strong winds and choppy waters in the San Francisco Bay Area had been in effect Sunday afternoon when the boat's operator first radioed the Coast Guard.

Lampert said the captain indicated at 4:20 p.m. that the sailboat was "taking on water" and the electronics system was failing.

At 5:30 p.m., the operator reported they were abandoning the sailboat, Lampert said.

After losing communication with the vessel, the Coast Guard sent an urgent broadcast to boaters in the area to be on the lookout.

Crews searched overnight by air and by sea, however they found no signs of the missing family.

"[There were] pretty rough conditions, especially without any lifesaving equipment," Lampert said.

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