Items from sailboat of missing family found off Florida coast
Florida (Shutterstock)

Crews searching waters off the Florida coast have found life vests and other items belonging to a man and his teenage children, who were reported missing after setting off on a sailboat three days ago, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

Ace Kimberly, 45, two sons aged 13 and 15, a 17-year-old daughter and their 29-foot-sailboat (9-meter) have not been located, Coast Guard Captain Gregory Case told reporters.

The Kimberly family was last seen on Sunday morning, when they set sail from Sarasota, Florida, and were headed to Fort Myers.

Later that day, Ace Kimberly phoned his brother from the boat and told him he was struggling with rough seas and thunderstorms off Englewood, a community about 30 miles south of Sarasota, Case said.

"That was the last that he heard from him," Case said.

The family, who had lived on the vessel for about a year, was traveling to Fort Myers to have the boat repaired, the Coast Guard said.

At first light on Wednesday, the Coast Guard sent an HC-130 Hercules rescue aircrew to resume its search for the missing family.

The debris field spotted midday 33 miles offshore included six life vests, a basketball, propane tank, tennis shoes and several water bottles, which Kimberly's brother identified as belonging to his relatives.

The brother said the group might have had an additional life vest and two kayaks that were not spotted by search crews, which has heartened searchers attempting to find the family alive, Case said.

"We're always hopeful," he said.

The search, which has also involved several state and local maritime emergency responders, will continue throughout the day.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernadette Baum)