MELBOURNE, Fla. — A family is asking for help to find a missing Melbourne man who disappeared on an ocean sailing trip back to the Space Coast.

  • October 5: Hugh Blankenship left Cape Henry, Virginia for Melbourne 
  • October 24: Coast last pings Blankenship's boat
  • Family says they lost contact with him in the area of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

It's been more than a week since they last heard from 82-year-old Hugh Blankenship, and each day that passes the worry gets worse. Will they see the man known as "Old Salty" again? 


 "It makes it impossible to stay positive, we are just hoping he kind of just pops up," said daughter Iolani Blankenship.

This past week, it's been sleepless nights for Iolani. And unfortunately, it's not just because she’s caring for her newborn boy Carter.

"I think we are all just trying to keep it together for each other," she said.

Hugh Blankenship's sailboat was last pinged by the Coast Guard in the early morning hours of October 24.

His family tells us he had driven up to the Virginia coast three months ago to get a sailboat he bought in an online auction.

During that time, he repaired the 29-foot Catalina named MARTA to make it seaworthy.

On October 5, Blankenship began sailing on the ocean for the nearly 800-mile journey from Cape Henry, Virginia, back to Melbourne.

"All his life he's been a seaman, so it's something he really wanted to do," said Iolani Blankenship.

But the ship had no instrumentation on board, and Blankenship only a handheld radio, cell phone and navigational charts.

The last time his family spoke to him by phone was the afternoon of October 23, in the area of the North Carolina Outer Banks. He hasn’t returned calls or texts since.

"I would like everyone to keep us in your prayers, and keep an eye out for him," his daughter said.

The U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic is searching for Blankenship and his boat, and is asking anyone who spots it to call them.