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Four rescued from storm-battered sailboat off Atlantic Coast

M. Alex Johnson / NBC News

A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted four people off a sailboat in rough seas off the Virginia coast early Friday — one of five vessels that reported being in distress after storms.

The rescued boaters, who reported they were taking on water and were sick, were flown to an air station in Elizabeth City, N.C. No one was injured, Coast Guard Chief Nyx Canjemi said.

Coast Guard and Navy vessels, supported by military aircraft, responded Thursday night to five distress calls from vessels waylaid by bad weather, but several turned out to be false alarms.

The Navy cruiser Vella Gulf joined an HC-130 Hercules airplane and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in searching for the boats, which were more than 200 miles offshore, the Coast Guard Fifth District Command said in a statement.

The sailboats were in an area where large storms Thursday spun off winds above 25 mph, with ocean swells of 5 to 8 feet. At least two of them were part of the Salty Dawg rally headed for the British Virgin Islands.

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