ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Family and friends continued to hold on to hope on the third day of searching for two firefighters lost at sea.
Loved ones gathered Monday evening at Micker's Landing in northern St. Johns County for a prayer and beach walk.
They held hands and stood in a circle as they flooded the ocean and beach with prayers. Then they walked along the beach, looking for any clues offshore that might be linked to the missing boaters.
On Day 3 of the search for Brian McCluney, a firefighter and paramedic with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Justin Walker, another firefighter from Virginia, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that crews had covered 46,800 miles of ocean.
Theresa Scully works with McCluney’s wife, Stephanie. She was among those who prayed and walked the beach Monday night.
“We want to say some prayers, offer up some prayers out into the ocean for Brian and Justin and then just walk the beach again and see if we can see any debris or at least send our spirit out there so that they know that we’re here pulling for them," Scully said.
McCluney and Walker disappeared after leaving on a fishing trip Friday from Port Canaveral. Since then, dozens of boats, multiple aircraft and more than 100 volunteers and surrounding agencies have joined in the search for them, which the Coast Guard said had covered 46,800 miles of ocean as of Monday evening.
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"We're still positive about everything, we're going to be able to find them," said Maria Mullan, a friend of McCluney's wife, who was at the Mickler's Landing gathering.
McCluney's wife posted on her Facebook page about 2 p.m. Monday that her husband's tackle bag had been found 50 nautical miles off the coast of St. Augustine, and she confirmed it was his.
"I wholeheartedly believe this is a bread crumb they (threw) overboard to say, “We are here, come find us,'" Stephanie McCluney wrote.
JFRD said the discovery was made by a volunteer.
“I’m just so convinced that they’re out there still and that tackle bag is just the first sign that we’re going to start seeing from them and I really do hope that we can bring them home safely," Scully said.
Mullan added, "That’s a clue that they’re around there and I hope that they’re still going to be within those miles and nearby and be able to find them right away."
She also shared a message for McCluney's wife.
“We’re right here. We’re praying and we’re very positive that your family is going to be whole again. They’re going to be together. Everybody is going to be here," Mullan said.
Supporters of the McCluney family who gathered at Mickler's Landing didn't find any debris during the beach walk, but with the power of prayer, they believe the two men will be found soon.
Coast Guard crews will be searching overnight. JFRD crews are expected to launch the search again at 7 a.m. Tuesday from the Mayport boat ramp. Volunteers who have boats capable of searching between 30 and 60 miles offshore safely are asked to meet at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the Mayport boat ramp. For those who don't have a boat but still want to help, donations can be made at JFRD.com.