ST. AUGUSTINE – On October 14th, 2023, the commercial fishing boat Carol Ann launched from Brunswick, Georgia on a routine trip to sea. The boat was slated to return from its trip on October 19th. On board the boat was three men: 24-year-old Tyler Barlow, 26-year-old Caleb Wilkinson, and 24-year-old Dalton Conway. The boat is 31 feet long, and was reported to be 80 miles offshore.
The boat hasn’t been heard from since the day it launched, and the men are considered to be missing at sea. In the weeks since their disappearance, a frantic search has been initiated by their families, along with dozens of volunteers. That search has made its way to Northeast Florida, after precious bits of possible evidence have been found off the coast.
As of Wednesday, the only hard evidence of the men’s boat was a fishing box found adrift at sea off the coast of St. Augustine. The box is thought to have been from the Carol Ann. The next best piece of evidence is a photo taken from the air near Matanzas Inlet of what appeared to be a life raft. It’s unknown whether the apparent raft is in fact a raft, much less whether it came from the Carol Ann, but it’s a crucial piece of hope as the men’s families approach one month without them.
The United States Coast Guard conducted a six-day search in the wake of the disappearance, according to the Facebook page ‘Bring Our Boys Home’, but found nothing. Volunteers with boats and drones have been sweeping the waters off of St. Johns and Flagler counties searching, but as of yet haven’t found them. The United Cajun Navy, a nonprofit known for their humanitarian work after major hurricanes, has played a crucial role in the search.
As perilous as the men’s situation is, their families are not losing hope. “Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, words of wisdom, and encouragement,” read a statement posted to Bring Our Boys Home on Wednesday. “There are not enough words to express our gratitude for the support you all have provided to our three families.”
The organizers are asking those with the time to do so to monitor beach cameras from Fernandina Beach to Daytona Beach, looking out for potential objects floating off the coast. Those who find something of interest are asked to email email@example.com, along with an image and location. A log for those walking along the beach was provided, to be sent in by those who search from shore. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for the search, which has raised $86,434 as of Wednedsay, out of a $115,000 goal.