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Mothers of missing teen boaters have faith in sons' skills: 'They're out there'

The mothers of two 14-year-old boys who have gone missing off the coast of Florida on a fishing trip believe they are still out there and have the skills to survive.
/ Source: TODAY

The mothers of two 14-year-old boys who have gone missing off the coast of Florida on a fishing trip believe their skills at sea will mean their safe return despite their young age.

"We live in a boating community,'' Pamela Cohen told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Tuesday. "These children are surrounded by water from the moment that they're born. Perry knew how to swim before he knew how to walk."

The families of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen pleaded for help on Monday in scouring for anything that might lead to their sons, whose 19-foot white single-engine boat was found capsized 67 miles off the shore of Daytona Beach on Sunday. The two boys went fishing on July 24 off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, and have not been seen since, which also has raised questions over whether it was safe to allow them to be out alone at 14 years old.

"They have all of the skills that they need. It's the same thing if you look at a farmer, young kids driving tractors, or young kids going up in the mountains hunting. If you're not surrounded in this community or you don't have it running through your blood, you'll never be able to understand it, but we can assure everyone that these boys are skilled and knowledgeable and strong enough and have what they need to get through this," Cohen said.

Those skills have given their families faith that the boys will survive and come home from the ordeal.

"Austin has been on the water since before he could walk,'' Stephanos' mother, Carly Black, told Guthrie. "This is his fourth boat. This isn't new to them. These boys have been doing's not even second nature at this point. It's in their blood...they're out there."

The boat had multiple life jackets on it when it left but only one was found when the boat was recovered. A Yamaha engine cover and a white YETI cooler also were missing from the boat when it was found by authorities.

The two families plus New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, a friend of the families, are offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who helps bring the two boys home safely. The family also has a fund-raising page set up for anyone who wishes to donate to help pay for resources to assist in the search.

"Our hopes are that they find those children," Namath said Monday.

The Coast Guard announced that it has searched about 28,000 square nautical miles over three days and 36 separate searches all the way up to the area offshore Jacksonville, about 270 miles north of Jupiter and 100 miles north of where the boat was found.

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